Connect with us


PCI Compliance & Network Segmentation

Last updated by



If you need to comply with the Payment Card Industry Data Security Standard (PCI DSS), then you have to start with network segmentation. This crucial process involves the development of controls that will improve the security of your firm’s data.

You should strive to convince the PCI auditors that you comprehend the purpose and objectives of the standards to ease your compliance process.

The Card Holder Data Environment (CDE)

When your firm is dealing with sensitive data from clients, the PCI DSS requires that you establish measures to guarantee its safety.

The Cardholder Data (CD) may contain crucial data, including the name, service code, primary account number, expiration date, and other private authentication data.

Due to the sensitivity of this information, you are obliged to ensure that no unauthorized person access the data, which would lead to theft and other fraudulent activities.

The CDE include all the networks that come into contact with the client’s private data. This includes the network system and all the computers that processes, transmits, and stores the data. Also, the CDH involves all the applications, servers, computing devices, virtual components, and anything connected to the cardholder data environment.

Network Segmentation As Defined by PCI DSS

This concept aims to ensure that all the stakeholders understand the movement of data within the firm’s established system. The CDE has several access points which should be monitored thoroughly to ensure that only authorized individual can access sensitive data.

PCI DSS interprets connectivity to include wireless, virtualized, or physical systems, all of which can directly affect the security of the data. For example, the data can enter the system using different methods, including USB drive (physical connectivity) or wireless connectivity (including wireless LANs and Bluetooth). On the other hand, the virtualized connectivity may include resources such as virtual firewalls and virtual machines.

The PCI DSS requires that all these entry points are secured to prevent the data from being tapped for fraudulent activities. You must provide tangible measures to secure your compliance certificate which will boost your trust levels and enhance your business significantly.

How do Businesses Scope Systems?

According to PCI DSS, the scoping process requires that you critically evaluate all the points in the cardholder environment where data can be accessed.

The first step of this crucial process involves establishing a catalog that details the methods you apply to acquire the cardholder data. In addition, the PCI DSS assessment demands that you explicitly explain where you obtain the data from and indicate how you intend to protect it.

You will achieve this by ensuring that you highlight all the payment channels and the cardholder data acceptance methods. You will also need to define the route that the data will follow after collection and seal all the loopholes that may cause leakage.

The next crucial step involves identification and documentation. The PCI DSS requires well-documented data on the process and locations involved in the processing, storing, and transferring the data collected.

You must candidly show an understanding of the handlers of the data, technologies used, and the process used to transfer data through the cardholder environment. Once you convincingly describe this, you will be required to incorporate the processes, components, and individuals involved in the entire process. You should give special attention to the people who will manage the CDE.

After reviewing the CDE, you should establish controls to protect the data. You should develop security measures, including encryption and firewalls, to monitor data entry and exit data from the system. After the implementation phase, you should monitor the systems to initiate modifications that will continually protect the data even as the data environment changes.

Out of Scope Systems

Based on the PCI Security Standard Council, out of scope systems can be defined as those that have been proven to have no access to any CDE in your firm. However, you’ll realize that it is not easy to find these systems! If you’re to meet the PCI standards, you must identify the out of scope systems and ensure that they do not access or influence security controls linked to CDH.

Before you declare them to PCI, you should research to ensure that you only provide those that will not be required anywhere during the processing, storage, and transfer of data.

Can I Transfer Risks to Third Party Organizations?

All the services providers that you engage in your firm, as well as other third-party firms, are regulated by your PCI DSS. They may directly get involved with your client’s data and can expose it to risk. As such, the risks that the third-party organizations carry will directly impact your firm.