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In between the numbers – Pay Me Now or Pay Me (More) Later

April 14, 2011 at 8:17 pm PST

Maybe it’s because I grew up in the Midwest.   But I just don’t like writing checks to lawyers.

 I’ve lots of friends in the legal profession, and all are lovely people (well, most of them, anyway).

 But as the pragmatic sort, it pains me to spend money to resolve something that might have been settled at a lesser price well before.

 Which leads me to the topic of PCI.

 Just reviewed a 2010 study from the data security experts at The Ponemon Institute that looked at the post-incident cost of data breaches.  Forget, for a moment, the brand humiliation, the CEO news conferences, the critical whiplash in the blogosphere and throughout Facebook.  Ignore, for a moment, that research suggests that 30% of consumers who were victimized by retailer data breaches promise never to patronize the offending brand again.

 The Ponemon research found that 42% of all data breach incidents led to the involvement of a third party (there to provide additional, independent investigation, resolve disputes, and soak up consulting fees.)

 The average cost of that third party involvement in the United States was $1.52 million, with final resolution costs ranging from $750,000 to upwards of $31 million.   That’s on top of lost business estimated at $4.47M per incident.

 Total:  $6M.  Perhaps not fatal to a billion-dollar business, but not a check I’d like to request.

 Yes, I know that active, careful PCI compliance is no guarantee.   And that active, careful PCI compliance doesn’t put revenue on the top line.  And that there’s ongoing confusion about PCI for mobile.  And everyone thinks it’s all too expensive.  And on and on and on.

 But I also know this:  active, careful compliance reduces risk.  Significantly. 

 And that the price of risk is not just a bruised brand. 

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10 Ways to Improve Your Business’s Facebook Security

Brought to you by the Cisco Innovators Program

Small businesses are a growing fan base for Facebook. Seventy percent of U.S. local small businesses interested in online marketing now use Facebook for marketing, up from 50 percent one year ago, according to a February report by MerchantCircle. Many businesses consider Facebook their best friend for low-cost brand marketing. Some also enable shopping on their pages, using Storefront, Payvment, or another ecommerce application.

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Cisco Investigation for TCP Split-Handshake Issue Reported by NSS

Updated May 9th: After a thorough investigation of the TCP Split Handshake issue raised by NSS Labs, Cisco has confirmed that the Cisco ASA firewall is not susceptible to this issue. In all test cases examined, the ASA operates as expected, providing protection in its default configuration against the Split-Handshake as defined in the original TCP Split Handshake paper. As a result, the Cisco PSIRT closed this investigation on May 4th.

Cisco appreciates the extended engagement and data provided by NSS Labs as we’ve worked through these scenarios. During two recent visits to NSS Labs, Cisco was presented with a number of scenarios, including new test cases that deviated from the original Split-Handshake scenario. The Cisco PSIRT collected traces and provided feedback to NSS Labs on all scenarios. In each case, Cisco demonstrated successful network protection through the default ASA configuration or the implementation of firewall policies that are fully supported, documented and used pervasively in enterprise deployments.

As always vulnerability reports should continue to be reported to the PSIRT organization (psirt@cisco.com). Cisco customers are encouraged to contact their account manager with any questions.


Recently there’s been some activity in the press regarding an NSS Labs report on potential vulnerabilities in Next-Generation Firewalls (NGFW). The Cisco Adaptive Security Appliance (ASA) was one of the products mentioned as vulnerable to these attacks. Based on the investigation of this issue to date, the data indicates that Cisco customers are not exposed to this issue. As always, should the vulnerability be confirmed the Cisco Product Security Incident Response Team (PSIRT) will investigate, drive remediation and disclose per our normal communication channels. (PSIRT Vulnerability Policy)

On April 12th, NSS Labs published a report regarding vulnerabilities on a number of firewalls, including Cisco’s ASA product line. The full report has a hefty $3500 price tag, but NSS does provide a free (with registration) “Remediation Guide,” for users of these firewalls.

The NSS Labs Remediation Guide incorrectly lists the Cisco ASA as vulnerable to the TCP Split Handshake attack, and also mentions that there are no steps available to customers to mitigate or remediate this attack.

Following an investigation over the course of several months, involving well over a dozen Cisco engineers from various teams and working in conjunction with NSS Labs, no vulnerability of this nature has been observed on Cisco products. The following products have been investigated:

  • Cisco ASA
  • Cisco IOS Firewall
  • Cisco Intrusion Protection (IPS) Appliances

It’s important to note that the NSS Labs report focuses only on one attack called the TCP Split Handshake, which is a third means to initiate TCP sessions that combines features of both the three-way handshake and the simultaneous-open connection.

However, the goal of this post isn’t to discuss the technical details of TCP handshakes, but rather to present what Cisco has done and is doing to investigate the impact to our products and protect our customers.

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Keeping Your Cards Close to the Vest?

While there is a world of difference between a deck of 52 and a deck of credit cards, it is still wise to hold those payment cards close to the vest. A solid part of protecting those cards from prying eyes is ensuring your insurance firm is compliant with the Payment Card Industry’s Data Security Standard.

Is PCI compliance important to insurers?  Every carrier CTO and CIO I have asked has said , “Yes, it is…and we are working on it now.” I’d venture to say, as with all compliance and risk management it is not a one-and-done effort, as regular reviews are required.

Today, April 14, 2011, Cisco announced its newest work in the area of helping companies across all industries comply with the PCI DSS 2.0 guidelines. And since the PCI DSS guidelines apply to all companies—including insurance—that transmit, process or store credit card transactions and cardholder information, I’ve recorded a video in which I discuss the PCI DSS standard and its applicability to insurance.

Cisco is at the table with its customers when it comes to enabling PCI compliance and is an active member of the Payment Card Industry Securities Standard Council’s Board of Advisors. We completed a new Cisco Design and Implementation Guide that includes 30+ Cisco and technology partner products that have been examined by an auditor.

Technologies involved in the assessment include core routing, switching and wireless, plus collaboration and physical security technologies.

Partners involved with this solution include VCE, HyTrust, RSA, EMC and Verizon Business who is the auditor.

Make sure you don’t show your cards….your credit cards…..at all times.

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What does it take to be PCI Compliant ?

Many people wonder what it takes to be PCI compliant. More importantly, people want to know the difference between PCI, FISMA, DIACAP and STIG. With so much alphabet soup, one has to wonder what it all means, and what is the best way to navigate these waters.

I’m not here to provide you with all the answers, but I can certainly help you to understand where PCI fits into the picture.

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