Perimeter
8/24/2011
09:47 AM
Commentary
Commentary
Commentary
Connect Directly
RSS
E-Mail
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
Partner Perspectives
What's This?
In a digital world inundated with advanced security threats, Intel Security seeks to transform how we live and work to keep our information secure. Through hardware and software development, Intel Security delivers robust solutions that integrate security into every layer of every digital device. In combining the security expertise of McAfee with the innovation, performance, and trust of Intel, this vision becomes a reality.

As we rely on technology to enhance our everyday and business life, we must too consider the security of the intellectual property and confidential data that is housed on these devices. As we increase the number of devices we use, we increase the number of gateways and opportunity for security threats. Intel Security takes the “security connected” approach to ensure that every device is secure, and that all security solutions are seamlessly integrated.
Featured Writers
White Papers
Cartoon
Current Issue
Dark Reading's October Tech Digest
Fast data analysis can stymie attacks and strengthen enterprise security. Does your team have the data smarts?
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-2014-4448
Published: 2014-10-22
House Arrest in Apple iOS before 8.1 relies on the hardware UID for its encryption key, which makes it easier for physically proximate attackers to obtain sensitive information from a Documents directory by obtaining this UID.

CVE-2014-4449
Published: 2014-10-22
iCloud Data Access in Apple iOS before 8.1 does not verify X.509 certificates from TLS servers, which allows man-in-the-middle attackers to spoof servers and obtain sensitive information via a crafted certificate.

CVE-2014-4450
Published: 2014-10-22
The QuickType feature in the Keyboards subsystem in Apple iOS before 8.1 collects typing-prediction data from fields with an off autocomplete attribute, which makes it easier for attackers to discover credentials by reading credential values within unintended DOM input elements.

CVE-2012-5242
Published: 2014-10-21
Directory traversal vulnerability in functions/suggest.php in Banana Dance B.2.6 and earlier allows remote attackers to include and execute arbitrary local files via a .. (dot dot) in the name parameter in a get_template action.

CVE-2012-5243
Published: 2014-10-21
functions/suggest.php in Banana Dance B.2.6 and earlier allows remote attackers to read arbitrary database information via a crafted request.

Best of the Web
Dark Reading Radio
Archived Dark Reading Radio
Follow Dark Reading editors into the field as they talk with noted experts from the security world.