Dark Reading is part of the Informa Tech Division of Informa PLC

This site is operated by a business or businesses owned by Informa PLC and all copyright resides with them.Informa PLC's registered office is 5 Howick Place, London SW1P 1WG. Registered in England and Wales. Number 8860726.

Risk //

Compliance

checkLoop 1
11/12/2019
05:15 PM
50%
50%

Companies Increasingly Fail Interim Security Test, But Gap Narrows

Stability of PCI DSS helps companies cope and create more mature security programs, but some parts of the Payment Card Industry's Data Secure Standard continue to cause headaches.

The share of companies passing their interim security tests under the Payment Card Industry's Data Security Standard (PCI DSS) — a practice run to help firms meet full compliance — dropped to 37% in 2018, the lowest level in five years, according to Verizon's "2019 Payment Security Report," published Nov. 12.

The decline in successful interim security audits is steep. In 2016, more than half of companies — 55% — taking a practice run through the painful compliance process mandated by PCI DSS passed the interim compliance audit. The ability to pass the assessment is a measure of the stability of a company's compliance processes and security controls, says Ciske Van Oosten, senior manager of global intelligence for Verizon's Security Assurance Consulting practice.

In the past, companies seemed on a path to improving their processes every year, but after 2016, companies started failing more often, Van Oosten says.

"We thought the growth was going to continue forever," he says. "But we now see that full compliance needs to be sustainable in the long term and not just at a point in time."

The news is not all bad. While a smaller share of companies maintained their security controls between compliance tests, the amount by which the average company fell out of compliance remained stable or declined. In 2018, the average gap between full compliance and the interim assessment for companies that failed to pass was about 10%, six percentage points less than four years ago, Van Oosten says.

The quarterly interim testing helps companies identify places where they have fallen out of compliance with security requirements and gives them a chance to fix the issues before the actual compliance testing.

"Organizations are required to not only achieve 100 percent full compliance with the PCI DSS, but also to maintain it," the report stated. "This means having all applicable security controls continuously in place and functioning as intended."

The Payment Card Industry's compliance regime has been a major headaches for companies, requiring significant amounts of investment and resources. Yet with breaches continuing to plague businesses and third-party risk becoming much more of a concern, PCI DSS has become the preferred way to test whether partners and vendors are meeting their security obligations, Van Oosten says.

"We had a lot of attention in the media [in the past], but that is not driving the attention on compliance," he says. "The driver for PCI DSS seems to be business to business, where a company will not do business with a partner unless they can show that they handle the data correctly."

The reason for the decline over the past two years in interim compliance is not obvious, says Van Oosten.

The PCI DSS requirements organizations most often failed to maintain include No. 11 ("Test Security Systems and Process"), No. 6 ("Develop and maintain secure systems"), and No. 8 ("Authenticate access"). A third of companies — the largest portion — failed to run regular network and vulnerability scans (requirement 11.2), according to Verizon's report. Twenty-eight percent of companies failed to protect software components and applications from known vulnerabilities (requirement 6.2), and 27% failed to recheck security control flagged by penetration testing to ensure that issues were fixed (requirement 11.3.3).

"The largest compliance drop occurred against Requirement 6, as organizations struggled to maintain effective vulnerability management, software development and change processes," the report stated. "It is then perhaps not too surprising that Requirement 11 remained the poorest performer—both in overall compliance and control gap—as organizations struggle to sustain compliance with security testing requirements year after year."

Van Oosten urged companies to have a security program in place to guide the implementation of necessary security controls. In addition, companies need to have a way of generating metrics to measure their progress in implementing the controls, he says.

"Security controls are all that stand between you and attackers out there on the Internet," Van Oosten says. "You need to manage PCI-DSS compliance as a program."

Related Content:

Check out The Edge, Dark Reading's new section for features, threat data, and in-depth perspectives. Today's top story: "What a Security Products Blacklist Means for End Users and Integrators."

Veteran technology journalist of more than 20 years. Former research engineer. Written for more than two dozen publications, including CNET News.com, Dark Reading, MIT's Technology Review, Popular Science, and Wired News. Five awards for journalism, including Best Deadline ... View Full Bio

Comment  | 
Print  | 
More Insights
Comments
Newest First  |  Oldest First  |  Threaded View
Data Leak Week: Billions of Sensitive Files Exposed Online
Kelly Jackson Higgins, Executive Editor at Dark Reading,  12/10/2019
Register for Dark Reading Newsletters
White Papers
Video
Cartoon Contest
Write a Caption, Win a Starbucks Card! Click Here
Latest Comment: Our Endpoint Protection system is a little outdated... 
Current Issue
The Year in Security: 2019
This Tech Digest provides a wrap up and overview of the year's top cybersecurity news stories. It was a year of new twists on old threats, with fears of another WannaCry-type worm and of a possible botnet army of Wi-Fi routers. But 2019 also underscored the risk of firmware and trusted security tools harboring dangerous holes that cybercriminals and nation-state hackers could readily abuse. Read more.
Flash Poll
New Best Practices for Secure App Development
New Best Practices for Secure App Development
The transition from DevOps to SecDevOps is combining with the move toward cloud computing to create new challenges - and new opportunities - for the information security team. Download this report, to learn about the new best practices for secure application development.
Twitter Feed
Dark Reading - Bug Report
Bug Report
Enterprise Vulnerabilities
From DHS/US-CERT's National Vulnerability Database
CVE-2019-19777
PUBLISHED: 2019-12-13
stb_image.h (aka the stb image loader) 2.23, as used in libsixel and other products, has a heap-based buffer over-read in stbi__load_main.
CVE-2019-19778
PUBLISHED: 2019-12-13
An issue was discovered in libsixel 1.8.2. There is a heap-based buffer over-read in the function load_sixel at loader.c.
CVE-2019-16777
PUBLISHED: 2019-12-13
Versions of the npm CLI prior to 6.13.4 are vulnerable to an Arbitrary File Overwrite. It fails to prevent existing globally-installed binaries to be overwritten by other package installations. For example, if a package was installed globally and created a serve binary, any subsequent installs of pa...
CVE-2019-16775
PUBLISHED: 2019-12-13
Versions of the npm CLI prior to 6.13.3 are vulnerable to an Arbitrary File Write. It is possible for packages to create symlinks to files outside of thenode_modules folder through the bin field upon installation. A properly constructed entry in the package.json bin field would allow a package publi...
CVE-2019-16776
PUBLISHED: 2019-12-13
Versions of the npm CLI prior to 6.13.3 are vulnerable to an Arbitrary File Write. It fails to prevent access to folders outside of the intended node_modules folder through the bin field. A properly constructed entry in the package.json bin field would allow a package publisher to modify and/or gain...
checkLoop 2