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PCI Compliance on AWS: What You Need to Know

Published on: November 1, 2022

<strong>PCI Compliance on AWS: What You Need to Know</strong>

PCI compliance on AWS is a necessity for companies that handle credit card data. With the expansion of AWS as a cloud services provider, security concerns have flared up about the possibility of data breaches and other security incidents. PCI DSS (Payment Card Industry Data Security Standard) is a set of requirements designed to protect credit card data from being stolen or compromised.

In this blog post, we will discuss why PCI compliance on AWS is important, who needs to be PCI compliant, and what the primary requirements are for PCI compliance. We will also talk about the benefits of getting PCI compliance on AWS, and how to go about doing it. Finally, we will provide some tips for securing your data in AWS.

What is PCI DSS? 

PCI DSS is a set of security standards that were created by the major credit card companies (Visa, MasterCard, American Express, Discover, and JCB) to reduce the risk of credit card fraud. The PCI DSS requirements cover areas such as network security, data storage, and access control. PCI compliance is required for any company that processes, stores, or transmits credit card data.

Why is PCI compliance on AWS necessary? 

AWS is a popular choice for businesses that need to store and process credit card data. However, PCI compliance on AWS is not automatic – you must take steps to secure your data and meet the PCI DSS requirements. PCI compliance on AWS is important because it helps to protect your customers’ credit card data from being stolen or compromised. In addition, PCI compliance can help you avoid costly fines and penalties if your data is breached.

Who needs PCI compliance? 

PCI compliance is required for any company that processes, stores, or transmits credit card data. This includes companies that use AWS to store and process credit card data. PCI compliance is also required for any company that accepts credit card payments online.

If your organization cope with cardholder information, PCI compliance is a must. This demand extends to companies of any size or number of transactions – even those with low numbers. (Remember: debit, credit, and prepaid customer cards all count as cardholder data.)

Companies that use third-party providers for card processing are still responsible for compliance, even though the provider manages the card data. The business needs to maintain compliance regardless of how or where they accept payments (e.g., in person, online, or over the phone). Although working with a third party does lower risk somewhat, it doesn’t excuse the merchant from having to follow industry regulations. 

Primary requirements for PCI compliance 

The rules set out by the PCI SSC – which focus on protecting cardholder data –  are both operational and technical in nature. In order to be PCI DSS compliant, you must meet the following 12 requirements:

  1. Always have a firewall set up to protect your customers’ data
  2. Never use the same password or other security information that your vendors provide by default
  3. Keep your customer’s credit card information safe
  4. Use encryption to protect cardholder data during transmission across public networks
  5. Ensure that your anti-virus software is always up to date
  6. Create and manage safe systems and programs
  7. Companies must limit access to cardholder information
  8. Give every person who uses a computer their own unique ID
  9. Keep cardholder data away from physical access
  10. Track and monitor all access to network resources and cardholder data in order to protect against unauthorized use
  11. Test your security systems and processes on a regular basis
  12. Have a rule in place that covers everyone’s safety when it comes to handling information

Before you can determine if your business is meeting the requirements for PCI DSS compliance, you need to understand how to define the PCI DSS scope. Reducing the size of what’s included in your PCI DSS audit scope will help lower both your compliance and operation costs, as well as any risks that come with handling payment card data.

Why is AWS pentesting important for PCI compliance? 

The PCI DSS requires companies storing and processing payment card data to conduct thorough, manual penetration testing of their assets including the payment gateways and other segments of the data pipeline.

A comprehensive AWS pentest ensures that the logical errors in the cloud configuration are detected. A pentest helps you secure the data in the cloud, create reports that might help auditors, and get rid of vulnerabilities that could hinder your chances of getting PCI compliance on AWS.

AWS users are always expanding and the company is releasing new services, so the system has become more complex over time. This complexity creates opportunities for attackers to exploit undiscovered vulnerabilities. The situation gets worse when you include human error as a factor. To combat these expanding challenges, cybersecurity professionals need to perform AWS pentesting on a regular basis.

Below are the primary reasons for conducting an Amazon AWS pentest:

  • The security groups in this environment are set too broadly, resulting in weak security.
  • Many people falsely believe they are not at risk because of the ‘shared responsibility model,’ when in reality, this misunderstanding leads to more exposure.
  • If businesses don’t educate their employees about credential theft and social engineering, then those workers may not understand the importance of multi-factor authentication.
  • If companies don’t maintain compliance with AWS, they could face huge consequences, like being unable to process credit card transactions or store sensitive data. To stay safe, these businesses need to run an AWS pentest application periodically to check for potential issues and take steps to fix them.
  • Vulnerabilities are discovered on the same day that a patch is released.

Always have an AWS pentesting policy, no matter the size of your company. This will ensure that your security meets all expectations.

Although Amazon has expanded its AWS pentest approval processes to users, it is still best if organizations hire security professionals to conduct the pentests. This is because security professionals will know which simulations require Amazon’s approval.

Benefits of getting PCI compliance on AWS

Builds customer trust

Any e-commerce transaction requires trust between the customer and the business. Customers must be confident that they will receive the right items and that their payment details are protected. Additionally, by meeting international standards for payments, businesses gain both protection and credibility.

Prevents data breaches

Proper organization and data protection should be a central part of your IT infrastructure if you are handling delicate customer information. Customers increasingly expect businesses to have stronger security, like firewalls with encryption, and not store cardholder details on file. Not only does this make it less likely for hackers to target your network, but there also won’t be any valuable data for them to steal!

Helps you to meet global standards

To ensure that all merchants provide a minimum level of security to consumers when handling cardholder data, the 5 leading credit organizations worldwide established the PCI DSS regulations. By taking the required steps for PCI compliance, you join other businesses that have made protecting consumer data a priority.

Puts security first

In order to be PCI DSS compliant, you are required to have state-of-the-art firewalls as well as an IT security strategy that can effectively identify any vulnerabilities in your network. Some of the ways you can become PCI compliant include implementing endpoint security, using advanced WatchGuard firewalls or conducting a vulnerability audit.

Provides a baseline for other regulations 

Being compliant with PCI DSS not only satisfies the industry standards for customer data security, but goes beyond the guidelines set by GDPR, ISO, and other international organizations. Because PCI DSS puts importance on reducing the amount of sensitive information you have stored, it is simpler to meet multiple regulations simultaneously.

3 pentest companies that can help you with PCI compliance on AWS

Astra

AWS penetration testing is an intricate process that can take a lot of time. If you don’t feel confident about trying to do a full security audit on your own, we’re here to help! Astra will provide direction throughout the entire ordeal so that youAWS penetrate successfully. 

Keep your website safe from data breaches with our AWS security audit program. Our comprehensive approach will protect your business and give you the peace of mind that comes with knowing your site is secure.

Astra will help you find any potential vulnerabilities in your cloud configuration through comprehensive penetration testing and analysis. Once they identify the issues, their team of security experts will work with you to resolve them.

Reveal Cloud Vulnerabilities That Other Pentests Routinely Overlook

  • Have Astra’s security experts review your cloud configurations from the inside.
  • By adhering to International standards like CIS benchmarks and OWASP, Astra guarantees that your business is using the best cloud security practices.
  • Astra’s security engine is always updating, so you can be confident that your website is protected against new threats.

Comprehensive Cloud VAPT

  • Having a cloud infrastructure analysis can help prevent any misconfiguration that could lead to a data breach.
  • Adopt all major security standards, such as CIS, CSA, OWASP, SANS, CERT, CREST and SOC2 to name a few.
  • Fix critical vulnerabilities with our easy-to-follow guide.

Security Gap Analysis

  • Thoroughly investigate your cloud system for any vulnerabilities in security or efficiency.
  • Request opinions about security controls from those who will be using them.
  • Derive the most benefits from your cloud system

Solid Cloud Security Measures

  • We make sure that you limit access to those who need it and that different people have different responsibilities.
  • At web Application, your cloud networking’s security is our top priority. We test readiness to ensure the isolation of sensitive workloads and

Proper Encryption of Network Traffic

  • By examining how virtual machines are set up, we can guarantee their safety.
  • Have complete control over your vulnerabilities by managing, monitoring, and assigning them all from a single software.
  • You will be able to get information about all aspects of vulnerabilities, including risk scores and ROI so that you can prioritize them.
  • Find easy remediation by collaborating with security experts

Qualys

Qualys is an authorized PCI Security Standards Council provider and our cloud-based solution can help you comply with the council’s standards via quarterly scans. In addition, this process is streamlined and secure so that you can have peace of mind about your compliance.

With Qualys, you experience:

  • Disruption-free: Qualys PCI does not interfere with the cardholder data system when conducting a scan
  • No stealth software installations: Qualys PCI will never install software on your systems unannounced or without prior approval from you.
  • No dangerous tests: Qualys PCI will never overload your system or cause an outage during a test.
  • Conforming reports: Qualys PCI provides merchants with reports that follow the requirements set forth by the standard.

Cobalt

Cobalt has a thorough PTaaS platform that helps you conduct automated and manual penetration testing. In turn, it helps you meet the requirements for PCI compliance.

Automation is the best way to stay compliant while keeping business flowing uninterrupted. With the right tools, controls for PCI-DSS such as user access reviews, vulnerability scanning, and change management can all be automated easily provided your organization’s internal processes are not too complicated.

AWS security best practices

PCI compliance on AWS is important, but it’s only part of the larger security picture. In order to keep your data and applications safe, you should also follow general security best practices for AWS.

Some of these best practices include:

  • Use IAM to control access to your AWS resources
  • Use encryption for data at rest and in transit
  • Use Amazon CloudWatch for logging and monitoring
  • Use AWS Config to track resource changes
  • Keep your software up to date
  • Follow the principle of least privilege when configuring permissions

To Conclude

PCI compliance on AWS is important for businesses that handle sensitive credit card information. There are a number of requirements that must be met in order to be compliant, but following general security best practices for AWS is a good place to start. Astra can help you assess your compliance status and identify any vulnerabilities that need to be addressed. Qualys and Cobalt also offer solutions that can help you automate PCI compliance scanning and testing.

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Saumick Basu

Saumick is a Technical Writer at Astra Security. He loves to write about technology and has deep interest in its evolution. Having written about spearheading disruptive technology like AI, and Machine Learning, and code reviews for a while, Information Security is his newfound love. He's ready to bring you along as he dives deeper.
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