PCI Security Standards Council Publishes Merchant Guidance On Skimming Prevention

PCI Security Standards Council Publishes Merchant Guidance On Skimming Prevention

September 11, 2014

3 Min Read


ORLANDO, Fla., 10 September 2014 – Today, at its annual North American Community
Meeting, the PCI Security Standards Council, an open global forum for the development of
payment card security standards, released an update to its guidance for merchants on
protecting against card skimming attacks in point-of-sale (POS) environments. Skimming
Prevention: Best Practices for Merchants educates organizations on how to prevent the
unauthorized capture and transfer of payment data to another source for fraudulent purposes,
known as skimming. The guidance supports PCI Standards, controls and approved devices for
maintaining POS security and a secure terminal environment.

Card skimming continues to be a highly profitable enterprise for criminals, with the United States
Secret Service estimating it costs consumers and businesses at least $8 billion annually. While
commonly associated with external electronic devices placed on ATMs, skimming can
compromise many different payment forms including, POS terminals, wireless networking
technologies such as Bluetooth and Wi-Fi and even EMV chip cards. With advancements in
payment technology and new skimming techniques, merchants especially continue to be at risk.
In response to this need, the Council formed an industry taskforce to update its guidance on
skimming to address a wide range of common targets and new attack vectors, including: data
capture from malware and memory scrapers or compromised software; overlay attacks that take
advantage of the advances in 3D printers; mobile device weaknesses and attacks against EMV
chip cards.

Security best practices outlined in the guidance can help businesses:
 Identify risks relating to skimming - both physical and logical based
 Evaluate and understand vulnerabilities inherent in the use of POS terminals and
terminal infrastructures, and those associated with staff that have access to consumer
payment devices

 Prevent or deter criminal attacks against POS terminals and terminal infrastructures
 Identify any compromised terminals as soon as possible and notify the appropriate
agencies to respond and minimize the impact of a successful attack
Organizations can also reference appendices in the document to assess vulnerability risks, and
in their efforts to meet PCI DSS Requirement 9.9 for ensuring proper inspection of POS devices
and limiting the attack vector by implementing simple daily routines and training employees.
“Skimming is highly profitable and appeals to a wide range of criminals because it allows them
to capture massive amounts of data in a short amount of time, with low risk of detection,” said
Troy Leach, chief technology officer, PCI SSC. “Retailers and other organizations can use this
guidance document to educate themselves on how to identify and prevent against this type of

For quick and easy reference, a high-level overview of the guidance is available as a separate
document on the PCI Council’s website:

As with all PCI Council information supplements, the guidance provided in this document is
supplemental and does not supersede or replace any PCI DSS requirements.

About the PCI Security Standards Council
The PCI Security Standards Council is an open global forum that is responsible for the
development, management, education, and awareness of the PCI Data Security Standard (PCI
DSS) and other standards that increase payment data security. Founded in 2006 by the major
payment card brands American Express, Discover, JCB International, MasterCard and Visa
Inc., the Council has more than 650 Participating Organizations representing merchants, banks,
processors and vendors worldwide. 

To learn more about playing a part in securing payment
card data globally, please visit: pcisecuritystandards.org

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