What You Should Know About PCI Gap Assessment?

We know how complicated and resource-consuming it can be to comply with the standards set up by the PCI (Payment Card Industry) Security Standards Council. It’s not surprising that less than 1 in 5 businesses (around 18%) assess their PCI DSS controls more frequently than is required by the regulation. However, things become a lot easier and streamlined with PCI DSS gap assessment.

The PCI Gap Assessment or analysis not only highlights your current security posture but also the security expectations that need to be fulfilled by your organization. In this blog, we will try to answer how a PCI gap assessment works, the benefits and the steps involved. But before we move on to all of that, let’s first understand what PCI Gap Analysis actually means.

What is PCI Gap Analysis?

PCI Gap assessment or analysis is the analysis, identification and documentation of the regions of non-compliance of an organization with the standards set up by the Payment Card Industry Data Security Standard (PCI DSS). The gap analysis is usually the first step followed in the PCI compliance process. The gap assessment helps businesses and merchants understand where their compliance standard stands and prepares their security posture to achieve compliance. 

PCI gap assessments are generally performed by security service providing companies whose security experts go on-site to inspect and prepare the businesses for an onsite assessment by PCI DSS officials themselves.

Good Read: What is SOC 2 and TSC along with Compliance and Certification

Purpose of Gap Analysis

The basic purpose of a PCI gap analysis is to prepare your cybersecurity infrastructure and make it ready for an onsite PCI DSS audit. It is further utilized to fulfil the following purposes:

  • PCI gap analysis can help determine efficient ways to implement the required security controls to meet PCI guidelines.
  • It can be used by businesses to assess their readiness for any upcoming PCI audit.
  • A gap analysis can help you identify vulnerable security controls that could potentially cause a failure during a PCI audit.
  • Expert advice during a PCI audit can also prevent consequences after an audit failure for organizations.

Benefits of Gap Analysis

In order to comply with the PCI DSS standard, it is essential to first conduct a PCI gap analysis. It not only eases up the whole process but also helps merchants fill the gaps in their security posture before going forward for an onsite PCI audit. Here are some of the other benefits of a PCI gap analysis:

  • It helps determine the scope for meeting the PCI DSS Compliance.
  • Assesses the security posture of your PCI environment and highlights vulnerabilities.
  • Helps identify areas that require attention on priority.
  • Guides your business through the process of a PCI DSS Compliance Program.
  • Enhances the ability of your organization to comply with the evolving security standards.

Once the assessment is complete, the experts provide a detailed report that highlights the key elements of the analysis and also explains the status of the security controls and a breakdown of further steps to be followed for remediation.

Good Read: What Businesses Need To Follow To Be Compliant With PCI DSS?

Key Requirements of PCI-DSS

Key Requirements of PCI-DSS

PCI DSS has set up a list of 12 key requirements that must be fulfilled by organizations that plan for PCI compliance. The gap analysis conducted by your organization must align with these 12 key requirements:

  • Install a firewall and maintain its security configuration in order to protect cardholder information.
  • Refrain from using vendor-supplied defaults in case of system passwords and other security controls.
  • Implement the required security measures to protect cardholder data.
  • Use encryption during the transmission of cardholder information across public networks.
  • Constantly update anti-virus software and take required steps to protect systems against malware.
  • Develop and maintain secure applications and systems.
  • Restrict cardholder data access to only the required parties.
  • Use authentication measures for access to system components.
  • Control physical access to cardholder information.
  • Monitor and track all access to network resources and cardholder information.
  • Use methods like penetration testing to regularly test security systems and processes.
  • Maintain a security framework that addresses information security issues for all business stakeholders.

Appknox's Engagement Process During PCI Gap Analysis

Appknox's engagement process during a PCI gap analysis focuses on understanding how ready your business is for its PCI audit and also the identification of any vulnerable controls which might impact PCI DSS compliance.

The engagement process usually involves our security experts meeting with your security teams who oversee PCI DSS compliance and also the teams involved in network administration and cardholder systems. The engagement process consists of the following key steps:

1. Scoping:

During the scoping exercise, our experts critically examine the security infrastructure and other system components and assess the scope required to fulfil the necessary PCI DSS standards.

2. Pre-assessment Information Gathering:

In this step, we gather all the other information regarding the processes involved, people, and other system components to validate the scope identified for PCI compliance.

3. Analysis and Assessment:

In the next step, we conduct an elaborate assessment of the overall process along with interviewing the business stakeholders, reviewing the policy documentation and a detailed analysis of the involved security controls.

4. Reporting and Remediation:

In this step, we provide a detailed report on the whole assessment highlighting your compliance status and how you can improve your security posture by taking the necessary corrective actions.

Final Thoughts

Complying with standards like PCI DSS can be tedious and time taking. A PCI gap assessment, on the other hand, can make your compliance journey much easier and efficient. It provides directions to the right path to follow and helps businesses make informed decisions and streamline their process to become compliance-ready. 

Appknox helps you stay on top of your PCI compliance gaps by proactively securing your PCI environment and helping you attain the much-coveted PCI DSS compliance with ease. 

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Published on Dec 1, 2021
Subho Halder
Written by Subho Halder
Subho Halder is the CISO and Co-Founder of Appknox. He started his career researching Mobile Security. Currently, he helps businesses to detect and fix security vulnerabilities. He has also detected critical loopholes in companies like Google, Facebook, Apple, and others


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