Top Five Pitfalls Identified for Securing Retail Cardholder Data

Cloakware Inc., the provider of proven software solutions for securing consumer and enterprise digital assets, today identified the top five pitfalls that the retail industry needs to be aware of when it comes to protecting their most valuable asset -- cardholders' personal data.

"Many retailers have neglected to secure their payment systems and processes," said Richard Stiennon, founder of security advisory firm IT-Harvest. "Without a diligent approach to managing credentials and privileged access, retailers leave themselves vulnerable to data loss incidents, which are happening far too frequently."

Recognizing the need for stronger protection against security threats, the Payment Card Industry (PCI), a consortium of retail and credit card leaders, published Data Security Standard Version 1.2 (PCI DSS V1.2), outlining best practices for protecting privileged card data. Understanding the intricacies of PCI guidance, Cloakware has outlined the top five common missteps retailers fail to address, leaving them susceptible to data breaches:

1. Using Vendor-Supplied Default Passwords -- With access to internet search engines, hackers and insiders can download manufacturers' default passwords and gain access to company's vital information. Retailers must make sure to change passwords upon program installation and update these passwords regularly.

2. Unsecured Access to Cardholder Data -- Often, companies keep a master spreadsheet with all administration passwords, making it easy for unauthorized individuals to access cardholder data and take advantage of unsuspecting customers. They need to eliminate the use of insecure password storage in favor of a secure, managed password management solution.

3. Over-Assignment of Rights -- Typical access control systems lend themselves to the over-assignment of rights in order to simplify individual administrator rights management. At a minimum there needs to be a separation of duties based on groups and roles to restrict access among employees. Not all IT staff members should have access to every application and database.

4. Lack of Traceability -- Shared account usage eliminates the ability to trace activity to an individual. The assignment of unique IDs solves this issue but multiplies the number of accounts that must fall under management. The adoption of an automated password management approach solves this issue.

5. Leaving Access Unmonitored -- Putting access controls in place is not enough -- companies need to actively monitor access to make sure that no one is illegally gaining access to their cardholder data. Actively monitoring access is an appropriate control to help minimize the extent of a potential breach.

Heartland Payment Systems' recently announced that tens of millions of credit and debit card transactions were compromised, signaling the worst breach in the Payment Card Industry history, which brought customer data protection to the forefront of issues facing retailers and consumers.

"These pitfalls are far too common and they make it easy for illicit access to occur," said David Canellos, president and chief operating officer, Cloakware. "With consumer confidence low and new breaches hitting the front page on almost a daily basis, retail organizations must ensure that they are complying with PCI DSS regulations and taking steps to protect vital customer information. Cloakware's Password Authority solution provides retailers with the critical protection they need to safeguard against unwanted access, protecting competitive and proprietary data against external and internal threats."

Using Cloakware's Password Authority solution, with its patented white-box security techniques, enables Fortune 2000 retailers to protect the entire datacenter, including critical customer and company information from data loss incidents. Unlike other solutions, Password Authority's unique architectural flexibility allows retailers to scale the solution as the business quickly changes, guaranteeing a secure, productive and competitive environment despite economic uncertainty.

Cloakware, an Irdeto company and part of the Naspers group, provides innovative, secure, proven software technology solutions that enable customers to protect business and digital assets in enterprise, consumer and government markets. Cloakware's two main product lines include; Cloakware Datacenter Solutions which help organizations meet governance, risk management and compliance (GRC) objectives for privileged password management while ensuring business continuity and the security of mission-critical data and IT infrastructure. Cloakware Consumer Product Solutions protect software and content on PCs, set-top boxes, mobile phones and media players. Protecting more than one billion deployed applications, Cloakware is the security cornerstone of many of the world's largest, most recognizable and technologically advanced companies. Headquartered in Vienna, VA and Ottawa, Canada, Cloakware has regional sales offices worldwide.

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