3Delta Systems Offers Best Practices for Safeguarding Credit Card Data

3Delta Systems, a leader in online credit card processing solutions and a pioneer in safeguarding confidential payment data through tokenization, kicked off its observance of National Cyber Security Awareness Month by releasing a free white paper containing best practices for preventing cyber criminals from gaining entry to data centers where personally identifiable information, medical records and credit card numbers are often stored.

The white paper, entitled, "Stopping Data Cyberthieves in Their Tracks," explores proven technologies and techniques for thwarting those who try to hijack, steal or destroy sensitive customer credit card and purchase-card information housed at corporate or government data centers.

"Hackers have a built-in advantage when it comes to compromising data," said Aaron Bills, founder and chief operating officer of 3Delta Systems. "They think day and night about how to invent and execute a clever attack, and they gravitate to pathways that offer the least resistance for the greatest payoff. Many work for organized crime syndicates. Yet most companies don't have full-time security defense teams with the same intensity and focus on deterring hackers. So the odds of a successful breach are in the hacker's favor."

According to the Ponemon Institute's U.S. Cost of a Data Breach Study, data heists during 2009 cost companies an average of $6.75 million, or $204 per compromised customer record - up from $6.65 million, or $202 per record, in 2008. When the Institute conducted its first data breach study in 2005, the average was $138 per record. In just five years, the cost of dealing with the consequences of a breach rose nearly 48 percent. The same study found that breaches from malicious attacks and botnets doubled from 12 percent to 24 percent between 2008 and 2009 and cost 40 percent more than those caused by human negligence or IT system glitches.

Any organization that accepts or processes credit cards or p-cards cards online, in a store, by phone or by mail must protect and restrict access to that data in accordance with 12 specific Payment Card Industry Data Security Standards (PCI DSS) established by the major credit card brands that make up the PCI Security Standards Council.

"Because every point at which credit card data is handled must be secured, conforming with PCI rules as well as building and defending one's own data fortress can be extraordinarily difficult and prohibitively expensive," Bills explains. "Organizations that collect and store that data themselves often find the process to be a huge headache with potentially significant liabilities rather than a convenience for their customers. Transferring sensitive credit card and payment transaction data off site, where it is encrypted and stored at highly secure, PCI-compliant processing centers, is often the best solution."

3Delta Systems, which has met the strictest PCI compliance requirements for payment data security seven years in a row, pioneered a tokenization technology in 2003 called CardVault® that enables merchants to exchange their customers' confidential card data for randomly generated payment "tokens," a process that safely replaces real card numbers with a string of characters which then become useless to would-be hackers. Merchants use only the token key reference for each customer transaction while the real card data remains offsite at 3DSI's secure processing centers.

"By assuming that perpetrators will gain some form of access, you must plan for a layered, deep-defense approach to secure your system so that if one safeguard fails, other countermeasures can detect and respond to an attack," Bills added. "Toward that end, tokenization can be a formidable tool in your defense arsenal."

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