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Addressing the PCI DSS with Integrated Vulnerability Management

PCI Testing: A Mandate for Cardholder Security

It’s no secret that cardholder data presents a tempting target for cybercrime. That’s why the major credit and debit card providers have established the Payment Card Industry Data Security Standard (PCI DSS), which applies to all merchants and service providers that store, process or transmit cardholder data.

The PCI Standard mandates basic security best practices that include implementing and ensuring the effectiveness of defenses and procedures including firewalls, anti-virus applications, security patches, intrusion detection and prevention systems (IPS and IDS), and end-user awareness and incident-response programs.

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Security Testing for PCI Validation and Compliance

The PCI DSS Standard V2.0 requires the same set of security measures for all merchants and service providers, regardless of transaction volume or card acceptance channel (e.g., in-store vs. e-commerce). Organizations must not only implement these measures but also validate that they are working effectively to achieve PCI compliance.

Core Security offers solutions to follow both the letter and spirit of PCI security mandates. Proactively testing your security measures is one of the easiest things you can do to comply with and validate multiple PCI requirements. Core solutions enable you to run regular, controlled and safe data breach attempts against your network, endpoint and web application security infrastructure. As a result, you can quickly and easily demonstrate whether your security defenses and response plans are in-place and working as mandated by the PCI Standard. What’s more, regular, automated and scalable testing helps ensure the ongoing efficacy of your overall security posture and offers actionable risk assessment back to the auditors and the business.



Fulfill the Penetration Testing Requirement and More …

PCI DSS Requirement 11.3:

Perform penetration testing at least once a year and after any significant infrastructure or application upgrade or modification.

Many Core Security customers rely on CORE Impact® Pro as a key component of their regular penetration testing initiatives and recognize the solution’s role in their successful fulfillment of PCI DSS Requirement 11.3. 

With CORE Impact, you can conduct automated, repeatable, and documented penetration tests across all systems that handle payment card data. This simplifies the compliance process, whether you need to complete the PCI Self-Assessment Questionnaire or prepare for an external audit by a Qualified Security Assessor.

CORE Impact can also be used to validate compliance with a number of additional PCI mandates (see table).


PCI DSS Requirement How CORE Impact can help

Requirement 11.3
Perform penetration testing at least once a year and after any significant infrastructure or application upgrade or modification.

CORE Impact Pro can be used as a key tool for complying with the network-layer penetration testing section of Requirement 11.3. It also assists with the mandate’s web application testing elements, offering real-world assessment capabilities that address all OWASP Top 10 vulnerabilities, including SQL Injection, OS Command Injection, Cross-Site Scripting, and others.

*The PCI Standard allows you to perform in-house penetration testing, regardless of your merchant or service provider level.

Requirement 11.1
Test for presence of wireless access points and detect unauthorized wireless access points on a quarterly basis. 

CORE Impact Pro offers many capabilities for identifying and assessing wireless networks, including:

  • Discovery of both known and unauthorized Wi-Fi networks and access points
  • Information gathering on network strength, security protocols and connected devices
  • Attack and penetration of networks encrypted with WEP, WPA-PSK and WPA2-PSK
  • Automated traffic sniffing for finding streams of sensitive data
  • Capabilities for joining cracked networks and testing backend system

Requirement 11.2
Run internal and external network vulnerability scans at least quarterly and after any significant change in the network.

Scanning applications provide a key component to the vulnerability management process by offering an understanding of your organization’s potential vulnerabilities. Penetration testing with CORE Impact Pro builds on this process by identifying which vulnerabilities are real and determining if and how they can be exploited. Test results are presented in Impact Pro’s Vulnerability Validation report, which can help you prioritize remediation efforts, effectively allocate security resources, and satisfy auditing requirements.

Requirement 11.4
Use network intrusion detection systems, host-based intrusion detection systems, and intrusion prevention systems ... Keep all intrusion detection and prevention engines up-to-date.

While intrusion detection and prevention systems can detect and block unwanted network traffic, they require ongoing, custom configuration and regular updates (e.g., new attack signatures) to be effective. CORE Impact Pro allows you to test the effectiveness of these defensive technologies and gives you the information you need to configure them to properly detect and protect against the latest threats.

Requirement 1.1.1
A formal process for approving and testing all network connections and changes to the firewall and router configurations.

Your security posture constantly shifts as store, franchise and e-commerce infrastructure evolves. With CORE Impact, you stay on top of potential security exposures created by new network connections and changes to firewalls and other defensive infrastructure.

Requirement 2.2 
Develop configuration standards for all system components and assure that the standards address all known security vulnerabilities and are consistent with industry accepted system hardening standards. 
CORE Impact Pro is continually updated with the latest commercial-grade exploits designed to safely test your organization’s exposure to newly discovered vulnerabilities in operating systems and services. Each exploit tests as many target OS configurations and methods of attack as possible. You can also test live cardholder systems with confidence, since exploits are designed to prevent service disruptions or alert you when disruptions could occur. 
Requirement 5.1.1 
Ensure that all anti-virus programs are capable of detecting, removing, and protecting against malicious software.

Requirement 5.2 
Ensure that all anti-virus mechanisms are current, actively running, and generating audit logs.
You can test the effectiveness of your entire security infrastructure, including anti-virus programs and other PCI-mandated applications, with CORE Impact Pro. In addition, the product makes it easy to tune security applications by testing them against specific attacks and generating reports that help you identify necessary patches and configuration issues. Impact Pro also documents each test with audit trails that you can compare against those from security applications to determine if attacks are being detected as expected. 
Requirement 6.1 
Ensure that all system components and software are protected from known vulnerabilities by having the latest vendor supplied security patches installed.  Install critical security patches within one month of release.
CORE Impact Pro gives you confidence in the integrity and effectiveness of all patches. After installing a patch, you can test its effectiveness by using CORE Impact to safely execute the attack that the patch was designed to stop. In addition, you can ensure that customer data remains protected by re-testing your entire network for new vulnerabilities potentially exposed by the patch.
Requirement 6.2 
Establish a process to identify and assign a risk ranking to newly discovered security vulnerabilities. Notes: Risk ranking should be based on industry best practices. 
CORE Impact makes it easy to pinpoint, document and track critical vulnerabilities in your environment. Impact vulnerability reports include industry-standard rankings such as the Common Vulnerability Scoring System (CVSS), which can inform your internal risk rating system. In addition, CORE Impact offers industry-leading post-exploitation, evidence gathering, and pivoting capabilities that can reveal the true business risk of specific vulnerabilities in your environment.
Requirement 6.5.1 
Injection flaws; particularly SQL injection. Also consider OS Command injection, LDAP and Xpath Injections flaws as well as other injection flaws.

Requirement 6.5.7 

Cross site scripting

Requirement 6.5.9 

Cross-site request forgery

CORE Impact Pro offers web application penetration testing capabilities that address elements of all OWASP Top 10 vulnerabilities, including those listed in this Requirement:

  • SQL Injection - Traditional and Blind (OWASP A1)
  • OS Command Injection (OWASP A1)
  • Cross-Site Scripting (OWASP A2), including reflective, persistent and Adobe Flash XSS vulnerabilities
  • Cross-Site Request Forgery (OWASP A5)

Requirement 6.6 
For public facing web applications address new threats and vulnerabilities on an ongoing basis and ensure that these applications are protected against known attacks by either of the following methods.

  • Reviewing public facing web applications via manual or automated application vulnerability assessment tools at least annually and after any changes.
  • Installing a web application firewall in front of public facing web application.
CORE Impact Pro enables you to proactively assess your web applications, plus firewalls and other defenses, against today’s most pressing threats, including those referenced in the OWASP Top 10 Web Application Vulnerabilities. In addition to replicating actual attacks against your web applications, Impact reveals the implications web application vulnerabilities by uncovering what data and backend infrastructure would be exposed if the vulnerability were to be compromised.
Requirement 12.9.2 
Implement an incident response plan and test it annually.
CORE Impact enables you to simulate a full range of data incidents and evaluate how defensive infrastructure, employees and contractors react.

Next Steps

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