PCI Vulnerability Scanning

By Fortra's Digital Defense

Accepting credit card payments is an everyday task all small business owners and merchants must perform when conducting transactions. However, if you handle consumers’ credit card information, there are inherent data security risks to manage and mitigate.

Security holes in your payment processing system can result in stolen client information or identity theft, and you’ll have to pay your bank a hefty fine. You may also lose the trust and business of your customers. 

All businesses that accept credit cards must comply with the Payment Card Industry Data Security Standards (PCI DSS). The PCI Security Standards Council (PCI SSC) developed PCI DSS, or PCI for short, as regulations businesses must follow to ensure cardholder data security.

PCI DSS consists of 12 requirements your businesses should meet to maintain a PCI-compliant website. Through the implementation of PCI DSS, you can develop a robust vulnerability management program and protect the cardholder data you process, including credit card numbers and other payment information.

Many business owners find PCI compliance to be daunting and technical. If you don’t have a background in PCI data security, identifying vulnerabilities and determining your compliance may seem challenging.

With the Security as a Service (SaaS) solutions from Digital Defense, adhering to compliance regulations is quick, easy, and cost-effective. As an Approved Scanning Vendor (ASV), we offer several vulnerability scanning services as a subscription with various tiers for optimal flexibility. Our solutions allow for internal and external vulnerability scanning, penetration testing, and PCI scanning.


Protecting Cardholder Data with PCI Compliance Validity Scans

According to requirement 11 of the PCI standards, you have to schedule vulnerability scanning and penetration testing every quarter.

A PCI vulnerability scan and penetration test involve a self-assessment of public-facing applications, including web APIs. Vulnerability scans are a PCI DSS requirement, but you can do it yourself without the scanning services of an ASV. However, you need a scanning service provider such as Digital Defense to approve your network and external vulnerability scans.

Using vulnerability scans and penetration tests allows you to detect the following security issues:

  • Vulnerability in the transmission of credit card data on a web application
  • Cross-site scripting, SQL injection, and other security vulnerabilities
  • Exposure of sensitive data, including credit card data, IP addresses, or the payment cardholder’s name
  • Issues regarding access and authentication on any web application
  • Security vulnerabilities in your company web servers, systems, or network
  • Upgrade requirements of third-party systems, website plug-ins, security products, or content management systems
  • Any external vulnerability that leaves your company network and its systems susceptible to a security breach
  • Any security features lacking in a website hosting provider 

After completing the vulnerability scan and penetration testing, you can generate a compliance report. A PCI compliance report contains all the information your company and security service providers need to understand the impact of internal and external vulnerability on your business network.

The vulnerability scan and penetration test report also helps you formulate a solution to ensure compliance with PCI regulations.


The Need to Automate PCI Compliance Scanning

PCI standards require that you run scans and penetration tests every 90 days. However, if you have an extensive network or sales volume or conduct transactions in several physical locations, you have to increase your scan frequency.

The more scans you conduct, the quicker you can identify vulnerabilities in your network and protect sensitive data. Frequent vulnerability scanning and self-assessment also ensure PCI compliance at all times, which takes the pressure off your business.

Automation is critical if you want to increase your vulnerability scanning frequency successfully. The cloud-based compliance solutions from Digital Defense provide your business with a quick, easy, and cost-effective way to ensure compliance with PCI standards.

Fortra Vulnerability Management solutions provide you with a seamless vulnerability scanning workflow and allow for:

  • Vulnerability identification in the early development stages
  • Automatic vulnerability scan triggering on code commits
  • Automatic posting of identified vulnerabilities on tracking systems
  • Compliance without the need for expensive outside services
  • Detailed instructions to eliminate vulnerabilities
  • Auto-submission of scan reports to the banks

Automating vulnerability scanning increases your scanning frequency but lowers the burden on your team. Manually verifying results can take days and requires extensive technical experience. However, with the solutions from Digital Defense, you have the support of a highly qualified team of experts.


Ensure Your Web Applications are PCI DSS Compliant

Fully complying with PCI and HIPAA regulations can go a long way in ensuring cardholder data and web application security. However, it is still possible for hackers to identify and exploit security flaws and vulnerabilities within your company network, which is why it is critical to develop your own data security best practices.

Many business owners do the bare minimum to comply with CPI regulations and avoid penalties. However, every quarter, these businesses are under pressure to eliminate vulnerabilities, and they may have one or more failing scans in the process. 

If your company develops its own best practices and security standards, it will make a big difference in your information and network protection. Increasing the number of scans is significant in the implementation of a new security standard.

In addition to quarterly scans, you should run scans when:

  • Installing a new system component
  • There are changes in the network topology
  • Modifying the firewall rule
  • Upgrading products and software

Digital Defense is a leading name when it comes to PCI. Our solutions allow your company to:

  • Identify coding mistakes that can result in a security breach
  • Flag all complex and second-order vulnerabilities, including SSRF
  • Pinpoint web server and system component misconfigurations that can cause a cardholder data leak
  • Check any web application, web application programming interface (API), and web service
  • Generate various reports, including approved reports for banks and other stakeholders

Your business has to meet all PCI standards to pass a PCI scan. If there are vulnerabilities or security issues within your system, you will get a failing scan, requiring you to remedy the issue before rescanning.

With the PCI solutions from Digital Defense, you can keep a finger on the pulse of all your payment systems, ensuring your business is always PCI compliant.


People Also Ask

Who Has to Be PCI Compliant?

The PCI standards apply to any business that stores, accepts, or transmits cardholder data, regardless of its transaction volume or size. For example, if you are a sole proprietor who accepts a credit card payment once per year, you must comply with PCI.

Where Can I Find the PCI Standards?

The Payment Card Industry Security Standards Council lists the latest PCI standards on its website. Staying up to date on these standards is critical to remain compliant.

My Company Uses an External Payment Processor. Do I Have to Be PCI Compliant?

Using a company’s services makes it easier to meet the PCI requirements and can reduce your company’s risk of exposure. However, your company must also adhere to the PCI standards, even if you outsource payment processing.

About Digital Defense

Our SaaS platform supports Fortra Vulnerability Management, Web Application Scanning, and Active Threat Sweep that together provide:

  • Asset discovery and tracking
  • OS and web application risk assessment
  • Targeted malware threat assessment
  • Machine learning features that leverage threat intelligence
  • Agentless & agent-based scanning
  • Penetration testing for networks, mobile applications, and web applications
  • Compliance management. One of the world’s longest tenured PCI-Approved Scanning Vendors

Our SaaS platform virtually eliminates false-positives associated with legacy vulnerability management solutions, while also automating the tracking of dynamic and transient assets and prioritizing results based on business criticality.

About the Author

Mieng Lim, Vice President, Product Management has served as a security expert for Digital Defense, Inc. since 2001. Mieng takes a consultative approach to security having held prior roles in Operations, Quality Assurance and Sales Engineering. Mieng seamlessly blends technical expertise with real world scenarios to provide an entertaining and educational cyber security perspective. Mieng serves a mentor and STEM advocate encouraging young women to pursue careers in security and technology and volunteers with BSides San Antonio as a staff member. Mieng holds a Bachelor’s Degree in Computer Science with Minor in Sociology from Trinity University. 

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