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Everything you need to know about PCI Penetration Test!

Everything you need to know about PCI Penetration Test!

Is your business related to handling payment card information? If yes, ensuring PCI Compliance is the right way to exhibit that your entity takes customer data security at its peak importance. And that leads to a significant part of the security regulation – Penetration Testing for PCI DSS. The particular blog navigates through comprehensive detailing of PCI Penetration Testing.

Firstly, what is a PCI DSS Pen Testing?

A PCI Penetration Test is a Testing approach having specific requisites under PCI DSS to inspect cardholder data security. So, you might wonder whether there is any difference between PCI Pen Testing and a normal one. The intention behind both testing approaches marks the actual difference between them.

PCI Penetration Testing intends to uncover security weaknesses or flaws living in the payment system environment. Pen Testing is indeed an ethical hacking exercise, where testers attempt to exploit vulnerabilities and take unauthorized access to your critical systems. It also helps ensure that all your deployed solutions run in line with the compliance requirements.

There are three types of Pen Testing approaches for PCI DSS: –

  • Black-box Assessments – Where the pen tester goes with zero information about the target.
  • White-box Assessments – Where the pen tester gets adequate details about the target, like network and application frameworks.
  • Grey-box Assessments – Where the pen tester gets only partial information about the target security system and not all.

Secondly, who needs a PCI Pen Testing?

PCI Pen tests are mandatory for all Tier-1 dealers, e-commerce traders falling under SAQ A-EP and specialist businesses that come under SAQ -D. Here, you might have a question, what are SAQ A-EP? They are e-commerce merchants who partly outsource payment channels to PCI DSS validated third parties but do not store, process, or handle cardholder data on their systems. However, this kind of testing is not compulsory for all SAQs. Connect our PCI Security Specialist to know if your organization falls under the PCI Penetration Testing scope and its applicability.

How to perform PCI DSS Pen Testing?

Until here, we know what it means by a PCI Pen Test and who needs to conduct it. So, the next ask in your mind would be – How to perform PCI Pen Testing?

The Pen Testing activity shapes up into five stages, namely: –

  • Scoping: – Here, the pen tester will address your PCI compliance assessment prerequisites pointing at your internal network or application to identify the complete scope of the testing.
  • Discovery: – The tester will discover all network components within the defined scope of your CDE.
  • Evaluation: – The feeds in the first two stages help pen testers evaluate and find-out existing security vulnerabilities.
  • Reporting: – The pen tester then evaluates the test results and prepares a finding’s report. It contains the used methodology, vulnerabilities on criticality, and remediation measures for quick mitigation.
  • Retest: – The final phase where gap closures get evaluated once again after the completion of remediation efforts from the client end.

Learning PCI Pen Testing Results

Results of penetration tests can differ and vary. There can be spotted risks that are highly critical, medium, and low. However, every highly critical vulnerability must be immediately resolved, either by complete mitigation or by the deployment of compensatory controls.

The risk ratings rely on different variables from industry standards such as rank, probability, CVSS, ease of use and many more. Even if the vulnerability gets marked as low risk, and if the issue impacts any requirement of PCI DSS, it requires mitigation to acceptable levels before compliance.

The test report should get used as evidence with all other documents given to the QSA (Qualified Security Assessor). In many cases, the information on the test report against a vulnerability may be adequate to correct the issue without any other additional code changes. Eventually, the final decision is up to QSA to decide if the security deployed is capable enough to mitigate risk and prevent future attacks.

What are the different types of PCI DSS Pen Testing?

Now, we know what processes involve in PCI Pen Testing engagement. Next, we head straight toward the various types of pen testing available in this module.

1. PCI Network Penetration Test

A PCI DSS Network Penetration Test detects security issues linked to the server, network design, implementation, and maintenance.

 What security issues get uncovered?
-Configuration issues for firewalls, OS, and software
-Unsafe protocols and legacy operating system faults

2. PCI Application Penetration Test

A PCI Application Penetration Test detects any security issues resulting from unsafe coding practices found in software design or publishing.

What security issues get uncovered?
– Injection vulnerabilities
– Authentication issues
– Broken authorizations

3. PCI Wireless Penetration Test

A PCI Wireless Penetration Test detects the presence of unauthorized access points and other wireless network misconfigurations.

 What security issues get uncovered?
– Insecure encryption standards
– Weak password encryptions
– Unauthorized access points
– Unsupported network topologies

4. PCI Segmentation Control

A PCI Segmentation Control Test detects whether a misconfigured firewall allows access to a secure network.

What security issues get uncovered?
– Misconfigured TCP connections
– Other misconfigured connections

5. Social Engineering Test

A Social Engineering Test Engagement identifies employees not validating individuals, not following procedures or policies, and using potentially unstable devices or technologies.

What security issues get uncovered?
– malicious email clicks
– unauthorized access permissions
– Unsafe device connections

How does Pen testing benefit PCI DSS compliance?

And then the most critical fact to discuss on the topic is the relevance of Penetration Testing in PCI compliance or how PCI Penetration Testing guidance helps PCI compliance. Conducting penetration tests on a regular basis is significant if your organization is constantly looking to improve its security posture. In other words, PCI Pen Testing delivers the needed diagnosis of real-world threats. So, here we enlist the best benefits your organization would have while looking for PCI DSS compliance.

  • A pen test help identify how protected your application, internal or external network is.
  • Enables adequate threat visibility for your IT environment
  • Help defend your organization from an outsider who has access to an untrusted network.
  • Help protect your organization from insider threats with access to trusted networks.
  • Help identify the complete set of vulnerabilities that exists in your applications like cross-site scripting and SQL injections.
  • Pictures if your segmentation and controls are upright, functional, and efficient.
  • Performing pen tests and internal vulnerability scans, including ROCs (compliance reports) and SAQs (self-assessment questionnaires), are critical PCI DSS compliance essentials.

Identifying the right PCI DSS Pen Testing Provider

And to the last section of the blog, how can you identify the right PCI DSS Pen Testing company for your customized testing approach? Quality is what you need to evaluate with a testing entity. Not all testing vendors are qualified or have the experience on their shoulders to address your customized equations. Confirm you have the following ask before signing your testing engagement with a vendor company.

  • Do the pen testing company have worthy experience testing in your environment?
  • What qualification does the testing company have with respect to the engagement to be signed?
  • Whether the vendor company has the trust and vote of other customers?
  • How many successful feathers are on the belt of your chosen testing company?
  • How long have they been in the industry with a proven track record?

Final Thoughts

If the organization’s security approach is upright and the pen tester is independent of the network management team, you can run internal pen testings. Otherwise, a third-party vendor company should be contacted to successfully complete a PCI DSS Penetration Test. More the information you give to your Pen Tester, the higher the value and worth they will dig from the testing approach. In that way, they will also be able to generate a complete threat profile of your environment, contextualize risks and take a tailored approach to discover risks more efficiently. ValueMentor can be your trusted industry partner to perform the PCI DSS Penetration Test with qualified and secured hands addressing all your security requirements in a limited time frame.