Unencrypted Payment Card Data Found on 63% of Merchant Networks

Nearly two-thirds of merchant computer systems store unencrypted payment card data in violation of the Payment Card Industry Data Security Standard (PCI DSS), according to scans of more than 475 merchant networks of all sizes by SecurityMetrics. This readable card data leaves merchants liable to fines and other penalties in case of card data compromise.

The presence of prohibited card information in 63 percent of merchant systems was discovered in beta testing of SecurityMetrics' just-released PANscan  product, a free patent-pending software tool that searches for unencrypted track 1, track 2 and primary account number (PAN) data on merchant machines to support PCI DSS compliance efforts.

The test findings indicate a large number of merchants use payment application software that does not conform to the Payment Application Data Security Standard (PA-DSS), fail to configure their payment applications properly, neglect to erase old data when new payment applications are purchased, and/or fail to train their employees in proper handling and storage of card data.

"Improper storage of payment card information puts cardholder data at risk. Our testing suggests that the problem remains surprisingly widespread even with increasing industry emphasis on the need for compliance with PCI DSS regulations," said SecurityMetrics CEO Brad Caldwell. "Proactively looking for unprotected data with a tool like PANscan can help close this security gap and potentially thwart future theft incidents."
 

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