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Addressing Ongoing Security and Compliance Requirements

Organizations continue to face threats to their brands, reputations, and profits from attacks on their information systems. The Payment Card Industry Data Security Standard (PCI DSS) is designed to protect credit card information. During my five-year tenure at Cisco, I’ve been focused on PCI. The challenge that we have faced when deploying a solution to help customers become compliant and maintain a secure enterprise is the complexity. At the various trade shows that I have attended to discuss PCI, I have encountered a lot of head-shaking and looks of disgust as I bring up the topic of PCI. To help simplify PCI compliance, Cisco has released the latest Cisco Compliance Solution for PCI DSS 2.0 to make it easier for organizations to maintain a secure, compliant network.

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Tools of the Trade: cvrfparse

Prologue

In this article, you will be provided a thorough treatise on an in-house developed tool for parsing and validating CVRF documents aptly named “cvrfparse”. The article is split into two parts. The first part, intended for CVRF document producers and consumers, is a hands-on manual detailing how to use cvrfparse. The second part, intended for burgeoning Python programmers, explores some of the inner workings of the tool.

Introduction

The CVRF parser or “cvrfparse” is a Python-based command line tool that offers simple parsing and validation of CVRF documents. Using it, you can quickly query a CVRF document for any of its contents. For example, let’s say one of your vendors releases a bundle of security advisories encoded in CVRF. There are a dozen individual CVRF documents each with multiple vulnerabilities across hundreds of products. Using cvrfparse, you can quickly ascertain which documents contain vulnerable products you might have installed in your infrastructure. We’ll see how, shortly.

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PCI-related Observations from RSA 2013

As a frequent attendee of the US RSA Conference in the past, this year I had the opportunity to work in the Cisco booth on the exhibition floor. This year’s RSA event was very busy, it seemed like there was a continuous flow of people and energy across the show floor. I had the pleasure of staffing Cisco’s Compliance Solution demonstration where we test people’s knowledge of PCI compliance. This is one of my favorite demos/stations to operate because it rewards people for their hard learned knowledge and skill on the topic with a prize instead of the normal random drawing (if you get the highest score in the shortest amount of time, you’re the winner!). I was surprised by the number of attendees that did not want to take our quiz. Was it a fear of being put on the spot? Or were they just not very knowledgeable about PCI? I consider the RSA conference as a security minded conference and thought a solid business driver like PCI Compliance would be front and center for many security professionals that often have to justify security purchases. Further, given the proliferation of data breaches across all industry segments, this should be a top of mind topic. Many industries outside of retail accept credit cards for payment of services and products (e.g., hospital co-pays, DMV fees, city permits, Insurance payments, hotels, transit stations) so when all three days of the quiz were won by retailers I was a bit surprised. I would have expected a few security vendors or professionals to have won at least one day! Read More »

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Becoming PCI certified…is this within reach?

Anyone who has been involved with compliance knows that simplifying complexity is the key to maintaining a secure and compliant organization. It’s become quite apparent that sustaining compliance is a marathon, and the journey must be travelled with vigilance. This is not something that is an endpoint or a task, that once accomplished, can be shelved and forgotten; therefore, it is very helpful for merchants, who wish to become compliant or maintain compliance, to purchase solutions that are “certified.”

The fact that you are purchasing a product that’s already been validated as secure and “capable” of being compliant reduces the complexity and uncertainty associated with big-ticket items. Adding new credit card readers or a payment application in your stores is expensive, and knowing that these products are validated by the Payment Card Industry (PCI) Council gives merchants confidence that they’re making a wise and secure decision.   Read More »

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Three Transitions Driving Net-Centric Security

When I think about IT security, I don’t immediately start thinking about threats, hackers and countermeasures, but begin with what is happening to IT in general. Right now, the three big megatrends in IT can be summed up in three words: virtualization, collaboration, and mobility. Unfortunately, it’s become something of a Newtonian principle that any action driving information technology forward generates an equal or greater counteraction by hackers to corrupt and exploit the new technology. I also find it disconcerting that at any given time, the most aggressively marketed “solutions” to IT security problems represent a trailing indicator of what cyber criminals are actually doing to raise hell. Read More »

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