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Splunk for PCI Compliance

February 11, 2016 | Susan Bilder

PCI is an acronym that stands for "Payment Card Industry" and PCI Compliance is a specific and rigid set of requirements that all businesses that process credit or debit cards as a form of payment must follow.  The intent of PCI requirements is to ensure that sensitive personal information is protected and that there is an audit trail to investigate data breaches if security protocols fail.  For businesses this means archiving large quantities of network and security data and retaining that data for at least one year.

Splunk is an affordable log collection, analysis, and archiving solution designed to help you maintain PCI compliance and protect your customers from the ramifications of insecurity in the digital age.

The Importance of PCI Compliance

If your business is found to be in violation of PCI compliance security standards you could be subject to fines by the company that you're using as a credit card payment processor. Additionally, if your business is unfortunate enough to suffer a data breach where customer credit card information is actually stolen you could be hit with significantly larger fees from banks, credit card issuers and more.

Failure to maintain PCI compliance is not a secret that you can keep.  Mandiant’s 2104 Threat Report noted:

In each of the incidents we investigated, a third party — typically one of the major banks or card brands — had notified the retailers of the compromise. But in some instances, federal law enforcement notified the victims. The threat actors maintained access to the compromised systems for up to six months. (page 11)

When a data breach occurs the victims will investigate unauthorized activities and that will be traced back to the compliance failure.  Maintaining compliance means not only earning and retaining the trust of your customers, but also avoiding the types of monetary fines and fees that could cripple even the strongest businesses in a way that they may never recover from. 

Compliance Means Protection

Failure to maintain PCI compliance doesn't just mean that your business could be subject to catastrophic fines although that is very much a concern. PCI compliance isn't designed to purely be a "watchdog" - these rules are in place to protect your business and your customers from cyber security issues.

According to the experts at Reuters, the average cost of a data breach in 2015 was $3.8 million dollars. This was an increase from $3.5 million dollars in 2014. This number only represents the cost to get your business back up and running again.  It does not take into account the goodwill nor the revenue lost from customers who no longer trust your business with their important personal and financial information. Splunk is designed to help you maintain the trust and loyalty of your customers, all while acting as a premiere performance monitoring and reporting solution at the same time. 

Automating Compliance

PCI standards require log review and incident investigation when suspect entries are discovered.  Splunk’s data collection and log analysis tools can automate the repetitive search for known threats, providing dashboards and alerts that allow users to focus on investigation.

Splunk includes features designed to help you maintain PCI compliance at all times.  Data indexers can be clustered to provide scalability, redundancy and high availability.  Splunk’s built in search and analysis tools, and user customizable alerts and dashboards provide the ability to automate log review and speed up incident investigation.  Splunk can be configured to automatically archive older data to long term storage to comply with PCI data retention requirements.

Splunk also includes native tools that allow you to meet requirements of other governing bodies beyond the PCI compliance standards, including both FISMA and HIPAA, as well.

Want to learn more?

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