PCI Compliance: When to Implement Two-Factor Authentication
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One big area of IT consulting has to do with using two-factor authentication when remote access across public networks is required. Payment Card Industry Data Security Standards, a.k.a. PCI DSS outlay compliance regulations for those handling payment card information. Information security is of such prime importance at this time that its relevance can’t be overstated. PCI compliance violations bring hefty penalties, so any covered entity along with the principles who store PCI data need to take a “security first” approach and not mess around with data access permissions. Redding, Chico, and Northern California covered entities are no exception to the compliance rules that govern all U.S. companies handling payment card data.

PCI Compliance: When to Implement Two-Factor Authentication

What is Two-Factor Authentication, and Why Do I Need It?

Two-factor authentication, or 2FA, is a security process in which the user provides two different means of identification from separate credential categories. One is typically a physical token, like a payment card, and the companion factor is generally something memorized, like a security code, like a PIN number or passcode. Using 2FA grants the user greater security when accessing databases over unsecure or public networks. The use of it in the Payment Card Industry is a practical mandate, unless failing yearly compliance audits is something a PCI-covered entity aspires to.

Meeting PCI Compliance

Two-Factor Authentication, also called Multi-Factor Authentication (MFA), should be utilized in any instance of remote access of a PCI network. Remote access (RA) can be seen as any connection that crosses public networks to gain access. Between the access source and Cardholder Data Environment, or CDE there can be public networks or ones owned and operated by a different entity, and such access should be considered remote. Exceptions include Virtual Private Networks (VPN), which cause remote networks to act like local networks. Point-to-point VPN technologies can be thought of as local network access, and remote access or client VPN technology platforms should be considered remote access types.

Any organization handling credit and debit card info has to prove they’ve been up to par on meeting all PCI DSS requirements annually, as well as throughout the year. PCI DSS covers everything from data encryption to network segmentation, and requires constant attention, 24/7, not just periodic assessments or yearly audits. Therefore, your IT support or compliance assistance team in Redding, Chico, and Northern CA can or will perform things like the following in order to keep you above water, compliance-wise:

  • A PCI Readiness Assessment – Will help eliminate any surprises by better preparing your organization to pass annual audits.
  • A PCI Compliance Gap Analysis – Helps covered business entities use PCI compliance as the benchmark for creating and implementing a more broad-spectrum information security strategy.
  • A PCI Self-Assessment Questionnaire – Can make compliance an easier prospect for organizations with lower transaction volumes.
  • A PCI Report on Compliance (ROC) – Required by organizations who do a large transaction volume and must be conducted by a Qualified Security Assessor who issues a formal report to the PCI Council attesting that your organization is in full compliance.

Your Northern California Compliance Experts

If your business entity in Redding, Chico, or further afield in Northern CA needs an airtight PCI compliance plan, Apex is a proven leader in providing IT consulting and services in Central and Northern California. Contact one of our expert IT staff at (800) 310-2739 or send us an email at info@apex.com today, and we can help you with all of your PCI compliance needs.