Payment Security Insights

November 1, 2017 Jacob Ansari

There are some important PCI DSS deadlines coming up. Let’s start with the SSL/early TLS migration. Why is it important for organizations to migrate away from SSL/TLS?

Jacob Ansari: Using SSL v3.0 (or earlier) or TLS v1.0 comes with significant security risks. There are some fairly complicated reasons why the protocols themselves have fundamental weaknesses, so they can’t get fixed with a patch or a configuration change. Specifically, an attacker who’s monitoring the encrypted traffic can find weaknesses in the values and attempt to extract that key and decrypt the session. This isn’t particularly theoretical either; if the good guys can demonstrate it, the bad guys can use it maliciously. Therefore, it’s high time to move to more secure versions of TLS, namely 1.2. 

What is the deadline? What are some major steps organizations need to be doing to meet the deadline?

Jacob Ansari: The deadline is June 30, 2018 for both merchants and service providers to no longer use SSL and early TLS as a security control. This is different from the provision in PCI DSS Appendix A2 that service providers must provide a secure service offering, which already needs to have happened. This is expressly no longer using the insecure protocols as security controls. Between now and the deadline, organizations that are still using these insecure protocols as a security control need a formal documented transition plan (i.e., a schedule for this transition) and a Risk Mitigation and Migration Plan (i.e., how to ameliorate the risks of using the insecure protocols between now and their deactivation).

Another major update to PCI DSS is the new language around multi-factor authentication. Can you provide a brief overview of what these changes mean for organizations?

Jacob Ansari: The new language calls for multi-factor authentication for all non-console administrative access to the cardholder data environment, even if from the organization’s corporate network. For a long time, many organizations mistook the intent of the original language and implemented two-factor or multi-factor authentication from the Internet to the out-of-scope corporate network, and didn’t require multi-factor authentication from that corporate network into the cardholder data environment. This seems to miss the point of the requirement and the new language supports this idea: administrative users....

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About the Author

Jacob Ansari

Jacob Ansari is a Senior Manager at Schellman & Company. Jacob performs and manages PCI DSS assessments. Additionally, Jacob oversees other Payment Card Industry assessment services, namely PA-DSS, P2PE, and 3DS. Jacob's career spans nearly 20 years of information security consulting and assessment services, including network and application security assessments, penetration testing, forensic examinations, security code review, and assessment of cryptographic systems. Jacob has performed payment card security compliance assessments since the payment card brands operated their own standards prior to the advent of PCI DSS.

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