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The PCI Lessons From Google’s Employee Data Breach

September 23rd, 2010

The card brands will likely discover the breach using their common point of purchase approach and consider the retailer the source of the breach. The brands may then order a forensic investigation, which the retailer will have to pay for.

If the breach is determined to lie elsewhere, wouldn’t it be great if the responsible party paid instead of the retailer? That payment issue is the kind of thing that PCI Requirement 12.8.2 can do.

The PCI Council doesn’t provide much in the way of specific guidance or scope telling retailers what should be in their service provider agreements. That is up to the individual retailers to negotiate. Some service providers will work with you to comply with 12.8.2. Others are more disappointing. I’ve written about both types of providers.

In defense of service providers, retailers need to understand that they should not expect 100 percent security from a vendor or anyone else. Perfect security doesn’t exist.

But what retailers do have a right to expect—and what PCI compliance requires—is that a service provider will accept responsibility for the data in its control, including its and its employees’ actions.

I wish this requirement came much earlier in the PCI list. One reason is because 12.8 and its four subsections may get short shrift. Many merchants attack the PCI Requirements in order and, as such, Requirement 12 gets left to the tail end of the compliance process.

Another reason I wish 12.8 were, say, 3.8, is that it deals with unpleasant situations, so it can take a long time to get right. After a retailer has spent a lot of time and energy meeting the other 225 requirements, there just is not a lot of enthusiasm (or time until the Report on Compliance is due) remaining to arm wrestle with an uncooperative vendor.

It would be interesting if in every service provider’s Attestation of Compliance, there were a box or blank paragraph where that provider could state “How we facilitate our merchants complying with 12.8.2.” Until that day arrives, however, retailers need to work with their service provider partners individually.

What do you think? What has been your experience in working with your service provider partners to meet Requirement 12.8.2? When you develop RFPs, do you ask questions like “How will you facilitate the company becoming and remaining PCI compliant?” I’d like to hear your thoughts. Either leave a comment or E-Mail me at You can also speak to me personally, if you happen to be at the PCI Community Meeting.


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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...

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