Feeds

Visa's chip-and-PIN exemption rules given cautious welcome

Good news for shopkeepers

Intelligent flash storage arrays

Visa has relaxed its regulatory rules so that European high street merchants who capture at least three-quarters of their take through EMV-enabled chip-and-PIN terminals will no longer have to pass Payment Card Industry Data Security Standard (PCI DSS) audits every year. The programme, which will help high street shops to reduce compliance cost, kicks in from 31 March 2011.

Retail merchants will have to first establish compliance before they can benefit from the newly introduced programme, which means that this status will no longer be reviewed every year, at least as far as Visa is concerned. Mastercard is yet to introduce a comparable scheme, so the move doesn't yet mean that most high street merchants can avoid annual security audits, at least for now. Chip-and-PIN transactions are, of course, irrelevant for online retailers. In addition, the programme only applies in Europe and elsewhere in the world, except the US, where chip-and-PIN as a method to authorise face-to-face credit card transactions in preference to signatures is yet to become commonplace.

Visa describes the move as a validation of proven technology that also lays the groundwork towards the future use of mobile payment technologies.

"EMV chip is a proven technology platform that can offer the industry the ability to facilitate dynamic data as well as enable payment innovations," said Jim McCarthy, global head of product at Visa, in a statement. "In addition, merchant adoption of dual interface contact/contactless terminals will support the emergence of near field communication (NFC) payment form factors, including mobile devices."

Ross Brewer, president and managing director of security compliance and management tools firm LogRhythm, said that although the new rules may reduce the compliancy burdens for some, they will inevitably lead to greater confusion over regulations.

“Visa should of course be applauded for trying to reduce the compliance burden for merchants that are using the latest secure technologies, in this instance, contact or dual contact/contactless chip-and-PIN terminals," Brewer explained. "However, this by no means spells the end of compliance – other card firms, including MasterCard, will still require annual validation that regulations are being met – so appropriate compliance procedures still need to be in place."

Assuring security at a point-of-sale terminal is only part of maintaining a secure retail environment. Encryption of customer details and maintaining secure wireless networks in retail environment are also important. Brewer cautioned that Visa appeared to be sending out a "mixed message" about complying with industry best practices by failing to stress a holistic approach. Brewer said: "Even if point-of-sale security is completely watertight, who’s to say that the credit card details stored elsewhere in the merchant’s IT infrastructure are just as safe?"

"PCI compliance – as burdensome as it sometimes seems – still delivers benefits to merchants, as it helps them achieve best practice," he concluded. ®

Beginner's guide to SSL certificates

More from The Register

next story
You really need to do some tech support for Aunty Agnes
Free anti-virus software, expires, stops updating and p0wns the world
USB coding anarchy: Consider all sticks licked
Thumb drive design ruled by almighty buck
Attack reveals 81 percent of Tor users but admins call for calm
Cisco Netflow a handy tool for cheapskate attackers
Privacy bods offer GOV SPY VICTIMS a FREE SPYWARE SNIFFER
Looks for gov malware that evades most antivirus
Patch NOW! Microsoft slings emergency bug fix at Windows admins
Vulnerability promotes lusers to domain overlords ... oops
Oi, Europe! Tell US feds to GTFO of our servers, say Microsoft and pals
By writing a really angry letter about how it's harming our cloud business, ta
prev story

Whitepapers

Choosing cloud Backup services
Demystify how you can address your data protection needs in your small- to medium-sized business and select the best online backup service to meet your needs.
Getting started with customer-focused identity management
Learn why identity is a fundamental requirement to digital growth, and how without it there is no way to identify and engage customers in a meaningful way.
High Performance for All
While HPC is not new, it has traditionally been seen as a specialist area – is it now geared up to meet more mainstream requirements?
Reducing the cost and complexity of web vulnerability management
How using vulnerability assessments to identify exploitable weaknesses and take corrective action can reduce the risk of hackers finding your site and attacking it.
Saudi Petroleum chooses Tegile storage solution
A storage solution that addresses company growth and performance for business-critical applications of caseware archive and search along with other key operational systems.