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12/22/2016
02:30 PM
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More Than 50% Of Biggest Holiday Retailers May Not Be PCI-Compliant

SecurityScorecard warns while the industry has made progress, many are still not covering the basics of security.

Retailers are having a solid 2016 holiday shopping season, and no major data breaches have been reported.

But not so fast: New research by SecurityScorecard indicates that retailers are not nearly out of the woods yet. Just because no serious breaches have been reported doesn’t mean that we all may not collectively wake up with a security hangover early next year.

A first-ever study of the 48 biggest holiday retailers from April 1 through Oct. 31, 2016, reports some unsettling data:

  • 100% of the biggest holiday retailers were found to have multiple issues with domain security.
  • Nearly 80% may not be using intrusion detection or prevention systems to monitor all traffic within the cardholder data environment.
  • All bottom-performing holiday retailers have a D or lower in Network Security, which suggests that their network may have an unaccounted access point ready to be exploited.
  • 62% of the biggest holiday retailers were using end-of-life products in the last month of the study.
  • 83% of the biggest holiday retailers had unpatched vulnerabilities in October 2016.

Sam Kassoumeh, co-founder and COO of SecurityScorecard, says patch management and replacing end-of-life products are the cornerstones of a sound security program and he’s very concerned that so many retailers are still not covering the basics.

“What happens is that companies do what they are mandated to do by PCI, for example, segmenting out credit card transaction data,” Kassoumeh explains. “But what I worry about as a consumer is if the hacker gets my billing address, purchasing transaction history or secret question, much of that information is used persistently on multiple sites.”

Kassoumeh says malicious threat actors can in turn use that PII data to sign on to another web site the victim is registered on and pretend they are that person, in effect taking over that account. Or, they can collect as much PII as possible and sell it on the dark Web or collect enough information to come back and blackmail the victim.

“The threat actors really have many options, we don’t ever really know how they are going to use the data,” he says.

SecurityScorecard runs a security ratings service that collects data available on the public Internet, identifies the specific organization the data belongs to, for example, companies where they find leaked credentials, exposed databases, or lack of firewalls, and then compare that company’s performance to the rest of the industry. They then assign a scored of A, B, C, D, or F.

Another disturbing finding from the report on the biggest holiday retailers was that the group spent more than three months during the study period with a C or lower rating in the following categories: network security, DNS health, IP reputation, and patching cadence.

Here’s a breakdown:

  • Network Security: 69% had multiple entry points for hackers.
  • DNS Health: 73% had misconfigured website domains.
  • IP Reputation: 43% were infected with malware.
  • Patching Cadence: 37% had unpatched vulnerabilities.

The SecurityScorecard report is available for download.

 

Related content:

Steve Zurier has more than 30 years of journalism and publishing experience, most of the last 24 of which were spent covering networking and security technology. Steve is based in Columbia, Md. View Full Bio
 

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Joe Stanganelli
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Joe Stanganelli,
User Rank: Ninja
12/22/2016 | 6:55:40 PM
TJX -- have we not learned?
There's an old adage:

The fool never learns.

The smart man learns from his own mistakes.

The wise man learns from the others' mistakes.

Its applicability here: After the TJX breach years ago, which happened because of the failure to be compliant with the spirit of PCI-DSS and best practices related thereto, this is inexcusable.

For these reasons, I tend to pay with cash almost always.  (And ESPECIALLY this time of year!)

RetiredUser
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RetiredUser,
User Rank: Ninja
12/23/2016 | 2:51:32 AM
Re: TJX -- have we not learned?
Not paying with Bitcoin, Joe? :-)

It's tough knowing what we know and then going out and having to decide how we pay for things.  Personally, while I do try to use caution, I also case the hardware and make eye contact with my clerks when paying with credit.

The question I always ask here is "Who do we hold accountable?"  The vendors for not better promoting secure practices with their hardware?  The companies for not hiring good InfoSec?  Or InfoSec for not getting the message out there better?

Sometimes it feels like we have to have more than regulatory and legal shackles to force security to happen.  Perhaps a cease-and-desist order to close a business that doesn't pass should be implemented.  How many of those will be issued before everyone starts passing their compliance audits.

That this happens again and again is almost rediculous.
ClarenceR927
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ClarenceR927,
User Rank: Strategist
12/23/2016 | 10:49:13 AM
compliance != secure
Having consulted at 4 very large and well known retailers (and countless smaller ones) I can assure you that compliance does not equal secure. Management has always been very concerned about PCI compliance but not really willing to do what is necessary to be secure.  Good enough to pass the audit is good enough. I made things as much better as management was willing to go but none of them is really as secure as we should expect and PCI is mostly window dressing.

When you use your credit card you are simply a wildebeest on the plains. If the lion chooses you, you are as good as eaten.
Dr.T
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Dr.T,
User Rank: Ninja
12/26/2016 | 8:19:02 PM
No security breach yet?
I would wait for a few years to see if there was any security breach during this holiday season, it seem that is how it works these days.
Dr.T
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Dr.T,
User Rank: Ninja
12/26/2016 | 8:20:27 PM
Re: TJX -- have we not learned?
"The wise man learns from the others' mistakes."
Agree. Wiser man put his learning into action.

 
Dr.T
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Dr.T,
User Rank: Ninja
12/26/2016 | 8:21:54 PM
Re: TJX -- have we not learned?
"I tend to pay with cash almost always."

This is a good idea. What I hate is the changes I get back, becomes harder to deal with after a while.
Dr.T
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Dr.T,
User Rank: Ninja
12/26/2016 | 8:22:20 PM
D?
 

I really wonder what D stands for in this case, is it like no firewall in the perimeter?
Dr.T
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Dr.T,
User Rank: Ninja
12/26/2016 | 8:24:36 PM
Re: TJX -- have we not learned?
"Who do we hold accountable"

This is a good question. Unless we put bad guys under enough pressure this will most likely never end.
Dr.T
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Dr.T,
User Rank: Ninja
12/26/2016 | 8:29:01 PM
Re: compliance != secure
"Good enough to pass the audit is good enough."

This is actually a good point. For me passing audit should be resulting into a good level of security measures in the environment.   
Dr.T
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Dr.T,
User Rank: Ninja
12/26/2016 | 8:29:59 PM
Re: scalp psoriasis
I agree, quite informative article and covers very important subject.
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