Perimeter
8/24/2011
09:47 AM
Commentary
Commentary
Commentary
50%
50%

PCI QSA Status Revocation A Shot Across The Bow For QSAs?

The PCI Security Council's move spells trouble for unscrupulous QSAs and shows that the Council means business in enforcing its quality standards

The Payment Card Industry Security Standards Council's recent revocation of the status of a Qualified Security Assessor as part of the Council’s quality assurance process. Was this a one-time event a sign that the Council is cracking down on QSAs that are sloppy or too lenient in their assessments, or a warning signal to QSAs that there really is a sheriff in town and that they had better clean up their acts?

It's probably a bit of both. Effective August 3, 2011, the PCI Security Council revoked the QSA and PA-QSA status of CSO for failing to follow processes that “ensure consistency, credibility, competency and professional ethics.” According to the PCI Council’s letter on the subject, the revocation follows a process where the Council required remediation of deficiencies in CSO’s practices, but were not completed to the Council’s satisfaction. Clearly, this is not what either CSO or the Council wanted.

What does this mean to CSO and its customers?

As a result of the revocation, CSO is no longer allowed to validate merchants’ and service providers’ security practices, nor can it validate products for compliance with the PA-DSS. The Council was careful not to revoke the validated status of CSO’s customers that had completed the process. However, that doesn’t mean that those customers in the midst of the validation process are so fortunate. Companies assessed by CSO and in the quality assurance queue awaiting confirmation are out of luck. They need to find a new QSA.

What about customers of CSO’s customers?

The revocation calls to question the methods used by CSO and the effectiveness of the company’s techniques used to evaluate the organizations and products it assessed in the past. This casts doubt on the security of the products and organizations, even if they continue to appear on the list of validated vendors and products.

The Council recommends to all of CSO’s customers that they find a new QSA (or PA-QSA) to review their practices and ensure that deficiencies in CSO’s processes do not result in real security weaknesses. The problem is a customer of one of CSO’s validated customers can’t know for certain whether the product or service is truly flawed, and the beneficiary of a weak assessment process or the unfortunate victim of an undisciplined assessor. The hope is that product and service weaknesses with be exposed and addressed quickly as a result of PCI’s annual assessment requirement.

What does this mean to other QSAs?

The QSA community should see the revocation as a wake-up call. QSAs who take shortcuts, do not follow the assessment process thoroughly, or interpret the rules in the most lenient way, will have a higher probability of getting caught. The damage to the QSA’s reputation might be devastating to the its entire business (most QSA companies are involved in more than just assessments).

The result may be that assessments may become more expensive, but the improvement of quality and consistency will benefit consumers, merchants, service providers, and the honest assessors who have had a hard time competing on price with organizations that take shortcuts.

Richard Mackey is vice president of consulting at SystemExperts Corp.

Comment  | 
Print  | 
More Insights
Register for Dark Reading Newsletters
White Papers
Cartoon
Current Issue
Flash Poll
Title Partner’s Role in Perimeter Security
Title Partner’s Role in Perimeter Security
Considering how prevalent third-party attacks are, we need to ask hard questions about how partners and suppliers are safeguarding systems and data.
Video
Slideshows
Twitter Feed
Dark Reading - Bug Report
Bug Report
Enterprise Vulnerabilities
From DHS/US-CERT's National Vulnerability Database
CVE-2014-8891
Published: 2015-03-06
Unspecified vulnerability in the Java Virtual Machine (JVM) in IBM SDK, Java Technology Edition 5.0 before SR16-FP9, 6 before SR16-FP3, 6R1 before SR8-FP3, 7 before SR8-FP10, and 7R1 before SR2-FP10 allows remote attackers to escape the Java sandbox and execute arbitrary code via unspecified vectors...

CVE-2014-8892
Published: 2015-03-06
Unspecified vulnerability in the Java Virtual Machine (JVM) in IBM SDK, Java Technology Edition 5.0 before SR16-FP9, 6 before SR16-FP3, 6R1 before SR8-FP3, 7 before SR8-FP10, and 7R1 before SR2-FP10 allows remote attackers to bypass intended access permissions and obtain sensitive information via un...

CVE-2015-1170
Published: 2015-03-06
The NVIDIA Display Driver R304 before 309.08, R340 before 341.44, R343 before 345.20, and R346 before 347.52 does not properly validate local client impersonation levels when performing a "kernel administrator check," which allows local users to gain administrator privileges via unspecified API call...

CVE-2015-1637
Published: 2015-03-06
Schannel (aka Secure Channel) in Microsoft Windows Server 2003 SP2, Windows Vista SP2, Windows Server 2008 SP2 and R2 SP1, Windows 7 SP1, Windows 8, Windows 8.1, Windows Server 2012 Gold and R2, and Windows RT Gold and 8.1 does not properly restrict TLS state transitions, which makes it easier for r...

CVE-2014-2130
Published: 2015-03-05
Cisco Secure Access Control Server (ACS) provides an unintentional administration web interface based on Apache Tomcat, which allows remote authenticated users to modify application files and configuration files, and consequently execute arbitrary code, by leveraging administrative privileges, aka B...

Dark Reading Radio
Archived Dark Reading Radio
How can security professionals better engage with their peers, both in person and online? In this Dark Reading Radio show, we will talk to leaders at some of the security industry’s professional organizations about how security pros can get more involved – with their colleagues in the same industry, with their peers in other industries, and with the IT security community as a whole.