How is PCI DSS changing?

Published on August 8, 2023

The Payment Card Industry Data Security Standard (PCI DSS) is a widely recognized set of security requirements that organizations must adhere to when processing, storing, or transmitting cardholder data. 


Developed by the major card brands, PCI DSS helps ensure the protection of sensitive information and the overall security of payment card transactions. With the digital landscape evolving rapidly, the PCI Security Standards Council periodically updates the standard to address emerging threats and challenges. 

The upcoming Version 4.0 of PCI DSS introduces significant changes that reflect the evolving nature of the payment card industry. 

Enhanced emphasis on security culture

One notable change in PCI DSS v4.0 is the increased emphasis on establishing a strong security culture within organizations. Recognizing that effective security goes beyond technical controls, the new version encourages organizations to foster a culture of security awareness and responsibility among all employees. 

This involves promoting security training, accountability, and regular assessments to ensure that security practices are ingrained into the organization’s operations and mindset.

New framework for risk-based approach

PCI DSS v4.0 introduces a new framework for adopting a risk-based approach to security. This approach allows organizations to prioritize security controls based on their specific risks and business objectives. The updated standard provides guidance on assessing risk and tailoring security measures accordingly, enabling organizations to allocate their resources more effectively and focus on areas of highest risk.

Extended requirements for service providers

Recognizing the critical role of service providers in the payment card ecosystem, PCI DSS v4.0 extends its requirements to further enhance the security of these entities. The new version places additional responsibilities on service providers, emphasizing the need for comprehensive risk management programs and ongoing monitoring. 

It also introduces the concept of “Shared Responsibility,” making it clear that both merchants and service providers have a shared obligation to maintain the security of cardholder data.

Enhanced authentication measures

Given the rise in sophisticated attacks targeting user credentials, PCI DSS v4.0 introduces updated requirements for authentication mechanisms. The new version emphasizes the use of multifactor authentication (MFA) and stronger passwords to reduce the risk of unauthorized access. These measures aim to protect against account takeovers and other credential-based attacks that can lead to data breaches.

Secure software development lifecycle

PCI DSS v4.0 places increased focus on secure software development practices. Recognizing the importance of robust coding and testing processes, the updated standard provides more specific requirements for secure software development lifecycles. It promotes secure coding practices, vulnerability scanning, and penetration testing to ensure that applications handling cardholder data are built with security in mind.

Improved reporting and evaluation

To enhance the effectiveness of PCI DSS compliance programs, v4.0 introduces improvements to reporting and evaluation processes. The new version emphasizes the need for organizations to maintain accurate and up-to-date documentation, including their cardholder data environment (CDE) and security controls. It also introduces enhanced testing procedures and requirements for penetration testing and vulnerability management.

Transitioning to Version 4.0

While PCI DSS v4.0 is yet to be finalized and officially released, organizations should start preparing for the transition. It is crucial to stay informed about the upcoming changes and understand the potential impact on your compliance efforts. As the new version is expected to introduce significant updates, organizations should allocate sufficient time and resources to ensure a smooth transition and maintain continuous compliance with the latest requirements.

PCI DSS v4.0 reflects the evolving landscape of the payment card industry and introduces several important changes to enhance security measures. 

By emphasizing the importance of security culture, risk-based approaches, extended requirements for service providers, improved authentication measures, secure software development, and enhanced reporting and evaluation, the new version aims to strengthen the protection of cardholder data and mitigate emerging threats. A PCI DSS QSA can help you make sense of all that PCI DSS covers.

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