Congress Probing PCI, Threatens To Get Involved

Written by Evan Schuman
March 31st, 2009

Hearing a litany of PCI problems, the U.S. Congress threatened to get involved, passing laws making certain provisions mandatory. Although few retailers argue that PCI isn’t in need of serious help, Congressional assistance wasn’t quite the help desired. It’s akin to calling for help because your basement is flooded and having a tsunami respond. Suddenly, the basement flood looks a lot more tolerable.

On Tuesday (March 31), the House of Representative’s Committee on Homeland Security held a hearing where, according to this detailed report from Forbes, committee chairman Rep. Bennie Thompson suggested that the PCI rules were written by card companies to shift blame to retailers and partners rather than actually preventing cybercrime. “I’m concerned that as long as the payment card industry is writing the standards, we’ll never see a more secure system,” Thompson said.


4 Comments | Read Congress Probing PCI, Threatens To Get Involved

  1. Jason Says:

    This couldn’t be more true. The standard is vague in many areas and instead of upgrading the technology where it is the weakest it focuses on areas where the data is stored. If they mandated a better hardware encryption and key management system that required end to end encryption of card data and information, we wouldn’t even need to worry about the rest of the PCI spec. They also need to make cards that can’t easily be cloned.

  2. James Says:

    I truly agree that the PCI DSS standard was created by the card brands to shift risk from them to the acquires and the merchants. And some of this risk should be shifted. However, wouldn’t the industry be better served if 1. All pre authorization data was encrypted end-to-end and 2. that the PAN was no longer needed by the merchant for any reason (charge backs, refunds, etc…) after authorization to the point where storage of the PAN is also considered prohibited.

  3. James S. Says:

    As I understand it, the PCI rules are intended to be technology-agnostic so these “beyond PCI” solutions are just that. If you do store or transmit cardholder data then elements of the PCI standards apply. There’s so many complexities to end-to-end encryption for financial transactions that are just being ignored. David Taylor just scrapes the tip of the iceberg and most these comments are so myopic to regional challenges, technology challenges and may (probably) not be a long-term solution as Mr. Taylor hinted at.

  4. Cranston Snoard Says:

    Someone commented that PCI is technology-agnostic… I would strongly disagree. The wording of most the SAQ checklist questions indicate they are based or focused on WINTEL environments. While the questions do not highlight a specific vendor solution, the wording quite clearly reveals a WINTEL solutions bias.


StorefrontBacktalk delivers the latest retail technology news & analysis. Join more than 60,000 retail IT leaders who subscribe to our free weekly email. Sign up today!

Most Recent Comments

Why Did Gonzales Hackers Like European Cards So Much Better?

I am still unclear about the core point here-- why higher value of European cards. Supply and demand, yes, makes sense. But the fact that the cards were chip and pin (EMV) should make them less valuable because that demonstrably reduces the ability to use them fraudulently. Did the author mean that the chip and pin cards could be used in a country where EMV is not implemented--the US--and this mis-match make it easier to us them since the issuing banks may not have as robust anti-fraud controls as non-EMV banks because they assumed EMV would do the fraud prevention for them Read more...
Two possible reasons that I can think of and have seen in the past - 1) Cards issued by European banks when used online cross border don't usually support AVS checks. So, when a European card is used with a billing address that's in the US, an ecom merchant wouldn't necessarily know that the shipping zip code doesn't match the billing code. 2) Also, in offline chip countries the card determines whether or not a transaction is approved, not the issuer. In my experience, European issuers haven't developed the same checks on authorization requests as US issuers. So, these cards might be more valuable because they are more likely to get approved. Read more...
A smart card slot in terminals doesn't mean there is a reader or that the reader is activated. Then, activated reader or not, the U.S. processors don't have apps certified or ready to load into those terminals to accept and process smart card transactions just yet. Don't get your card(t) before the terminal (horse). Read more...
The marketplace does speak. More fraud capacity translates to higher value for the stolen data. Because nearly 100% of all US transactions are authorized online in real time, we have less fraud regardless of whether the card is Magstripe only or chip and PIn. Hence, $10 prices for US cards vs $25 for the European counterparts. Read more...
@David True. The European cards have both an EMV chip AND a mag stripe. Europeans may generally use the chip for their transactions, but the insecure stripe remains vulnerable to skimming, whether it be from a false front on an ATM or a dishonest waiter with a handheld skimmer. If their stripe is skimmed, the track data can still be cloned and used fraudulently in the United States. If European banks only detect fraud from 9-5 GMT, that might explain why American criminals prefer them over American bank issued cards, who have fraud detection in place 24x7. Read more...

Our apologies. Due to legal and security copyright issues, we can't facilitate the printing of Premium Content. If you absolutely need a hard copy, please contact customer service.