Coming March 2024: How to Prepare for PCI DSS Version 4.0 Compliance

a person using a laptop with compliance related icons surrounding it

Full compliance rates for PCI DSS remain low. A 2022 Verizon report claims that only 43% of assessed organizations maintained full compliance in 2020. With the March 2024 deadline fast approaching, businesses that process and store card data are racing to implement the 13 new requirements in Phase I of PCI DSS 4.0. Today, we’ll explore how impacted organizations can leverage continuous controls monitoring (CCM) to better align with Version 4.0’s vision to promote security as a continuous process that we discussed in the first blog of this two-part series.

As part of the PCI DSS 4.0 compliance process, organizations will want to ensure their security controls and processes align with the listed requirements. At a very high level, these could range from anti-malware and vulnerability scanning to web app firewalls and security awareness programs.

However, there are challenges with traditional, point-in-time manual testing and reporting:

  1. Organizations will lack the resources to do this on a continuous basis. There’s simply too much data being generated and too many controls to monitor.
  2. Organizations could fall out of compliance at any moment and therefore expose themselves to the risk of a serious data breach or regulator fines.

Instead, they need to follow the new stated goal of PCI DSS 4.0: Security as an ongoing process, which means continuously evaluating posture, and improving security processes and controls. This is where continuous controls monitoring (CCM) solutions come in. CCM solutions offer security and risk management (SRM) and IT teams automated capabilities to collect data from different sources, test the effectiveness of controls and report the results to relevant stakeholders. They could also initiate remedial actions to fix any issues and bring controls back into compliance—all in near real-time.

How can continuous controls monitoring (CCM) streamline PCI DSS 4.0 compliance efforts?

Continuous controls monitoring (CCM) tools play a pivotal role in streamlining PCI DSS 4.0 compliance efforts by transforming the approach from periodic assessments to a dynamic, ongoing security framework. Here’s an expanded view of how CCM aligns with and enhances PCI DSS 4.0 compliance:

  • Compliance Oversight: CCM enables continuous monitoring of the Cardholder Data Environment (CDE). Instead of intermittent assessments, it actively tracks compliance with a multitude of PCI DSS requirements. This ongoing evaluation ensures that compliance isn’t just a snapshot but a consistently upheld standard.
  • Automated Data Analysis: CCM tools leverage automation to gather data from various sources across the organization’s infrastructure. They continuously assess the effectiveness of security controls, helping identify and highlight potential vulnerabilities or non-compliance issues promptly. This automation reduces the burden on resources and ensures that a vast amount of data is processed efficiently.
  • Immediate Remediation Actions: One of the significant advantages of CCM is its ability to not only detect issues but also trigger immediate remedial actions. When a control falls out of compliance, CCM tools can initiate automated responses to rectify the problem, ensuring swift mitigation and bringing controls back into compliance swiftly.
  • Adaptability to Evolving Requirements: PCI DSS requirements are subject to change and evolve over time. CCM tools provide flexibility by adapting to these changes seamlessly. They continuously evaluate controls against the updated standards, ensuring that organizations remain compliant even as the requirements evolve.

For those organizations that are required to meet these updated cardholder data security requirements, leveraging automated technology can reduce the workload for under-pressure SRM teams, minimize compliance gaps and breach risks, and optimize security for the long term.

The Noetic difference

Noetic provides a robust solution that equips teams with the insights they need to better implement and enforce applicable controls and processes across the organization.The Noetic platform is designed to provide comprehensive visibility and management of the data within your existing security, IT management and GRC tools and the relationship between all cyber assets in your environment.

To summarize, here’s how the Noetic platform stands out in how it supports PCI DSS:

  • Structured collection of diverse data sources: The Noetic platform collects data from a wide array of sources, including data from network devices, servers, applications, security tools, IAM systems, and more. This diversity ensures a truly comprehensive view of the organization’s operations and security landscape. The platform doesn’t gather raw data, but takes a structural approach to correlate, aggregate and deduplicate security data to ensure meaningful insights can be derived.
  • Automation for audit preparation: Noetic caters to PCI-DSS compliance monitoring needs by enabling users to create specific reports and workflows tailored to relevant controls. By continuously and automatically collecting compliance-related data, the platform streamlines audit preparation. This eliminates the need for manual data hunting and minimizes the risk of missing crucial information during audits.
  • Schedule compliance drift alerts: Automated processes collect evidence from assets and the relevant technical context and aligns this against PCI DSS 4.0 requirements. SRM teams can then build recurring queries to track the status of their assets/controls and get alerts on compliance drift.

    For example, the platform could help to automatically identify and correct coverage gaps in multi-factor authentication (MFA) usage, based on various sources of identity data such as Active Directory, Okta deployments or cloud accounts. Or it could identify key assets that have not been patched as required by PCI DSS. In fact, Noetic’s automated workflows can be configured to automatically run and report vulnerability scans on a regular basis, and validate pen testing, to support continuous risk management.
  • Enables proactive security and risk measures: One of the critical aspects of PCI DSS 4.0 is the emphasis on security as an ongoing process. Noetic facilitates continuous assessment of controls, enabling organizations to swiftly detect any deviations from compliance standards. When non-compliant issues are identified, CCM tools can trigger automated remedial actions or alerts, allowing for immediate resolution and bringing controls back into compliance promptly.

Beyond PCI DSS

CCM and the Noetic platform can do much more. Continuous monitoring and remediation of control anomalies and gaps is a fundamental best practice to managing risk across the entire attack surface. Yes, it can help to validate compliance with various frameworks, standards, and regulations. But in so doing, it can also minimize the chances of a serious breach—and the reputational and financial damage that can result.

PCI DSS 4.0 is all about encouraging a more holistic approach. Rather than enabling a “check box” approach, Noetic’s CCM capabilities align with the overarching goal to replace traditional manual, point-in-time checks. By leveraging automation and continuous monitoring, Noetic empowers teams to adopt a dynamic, continuous understanding of their security posture. Through our comprehensive approach to understanding and acting on your security data, teams gain the ability to continuously assess, adapt, and fortify their defenses. This proactive stance not only ensures compliance, but evolves into a robust security strategy that adapts to the ever-changing threat landscape.

With Noetic, organizations can manage multiple compliance frameworks from a single platform whilst continuously measuring and improving risk posture. That’s a firm foundation on which to build any growth-oriented business. See the platform in action in our on-demand demonstration with Chris Neely, Director of Sales Engineering.

See the Noetic platform in action.

Noetic screenshot, alerts dashboard

Watch our demo led by Chris Neely, Director of Sales Engineering to: 

  • Discover the Noetic Cyber difference
  • Get an insider’s look at how users experience immediate time to value with intuitive, out-of-the-box dashboards.
  • Dive deeper into some of the core supported use cases, including coverage gaps and vulnerability prioritization.
  • Learn how to streamline existing security processes with Noetic’s powerful automated workflows.