What You Should Know About File Integrity Monitoring For PCI DSS Compliance

Integrity Monitoring For PCI DSS

Today all businesses are advised to employ firewalls according to configuration guidelines, use anti-virus software and log records, and monitor their systems. Cybercrime is on the rise, especially since businesses, both large and small, have critical operations and customer interactions online. According to RiskIQ Research, major businesses lose $25 every minute as a result of data breaches that are almost completely preventable, in most cases.

File integrity monitoring (FIM), in this regard, serves as your ace in tracking changes to critical files. FIM software provides you security by alerting you to any tampering with confidential file content. Any change event will be recorded whether or not the change event was made with or without your approval or knowledge. Change tracking documentation is one of the primary reasons why implementation of FIM is a non-negotiable requirement for PCI DSS compliance.

File integrity monitoring can help ensure the protection of private credit card information in the context of PCI compliance. Let’s look at the illustrative example below.

Hackers can break into a system by inserting malicious code into the execution files and tampering with the operating system’s configuration files. Once the host system has been compromised the hacker can obtain credit card information.

Checking those files against the specified baseline will allow an FIM tool to identify modifications. The checking procedure employs a secure hash method,similar to making and checking a unique fingerprint. The process makes sure that even minor file modifications result in a hash value that is significantly different from the original value. Because of this, FIM essentially eliminates the possibility of malicious changes being inserted into legitimate system, execution, or data files without being noticed.

In this blog, we will explore why file integrity monitoring is essential for PCI DSS compliance and the benefits of using such software in the long run.

An Overview of the PCI DSS Compliance Requirements Ideal Characteristics of a File Integrity Monitoring Software  

In order to guarantee the protection of cardholder data, the PCI DSS Compliance standard of technical and operational security requirements was developed in 2004. Any organization that accepts, processes, utilizes, stores, manages, or transmits credit card information must comply with this  security framework.

PCI DSS addresses two kinds of data:

  • General information on the cardholders, such as account numbers, names, service codes, and card expiration dates; and,
  • Sensitive authentication information, such as card verification values (CAV2/CVC2/CVV2/CID), magnetic-stripe data, or its chip equivalent, PIN blocks, and PINs

To ensure that both general as well as sensitive information remains safe, the PCI DSS standard implements 12 basic requirements. To know more about these, and how they help in safeguarding confidential information, click right here.

File Integrity Monitoring Requirements Concerning PCI DSS Ideal Characteristics of a File Integrity Monitoring Software  

The following conditions are outlined by the Payment Card Industry Data Security Standard (PCI-DSS) pertaining to file integrity monitoring:‍

According to requirement no. 10.5.5, file-integrity monitoring or change-detection software on logs is to be used to verify that current log data cannot be modified without generating alerts (but new data being added should not produce an alarm).

And, as per requirement 10.5.5, file-integrity monitoring or change-detection systems scan for modifications to essential files and alert when such changes are found. An entity often monitors files that don’t change frequently but when they do, they suggest a potential compromise for file-integrity monitoring purposes.

The PCI Guidance for Requirement 11.5 states that “Change-detection solutions, such as file-integrity monitoring (FIM) tools, check for modifications, additions, and deletions to essential files and alert when such changes are identified. A malevolent entity may add, remove, or change the contents of configuration file contents, operating system programmes, or application executables if the change-detection solution was not deployed properly and its output was not being monitored. If undiscovered, unauthorized changes could render current security controls ineffective, and lead to the theft of cardholder data with no discernible impact on regular operations.”

In accordance with this, requirement no. 11.5.1 dictates to “install a procedure to handle any alerts the change-detection solution may generate.”

High-level security is facilitated by the use of File Integrity Monitoring (FIM) in PCI DSS since it sends notifications in the event that a file is changed or modified. For the protection of systems and data, using FIM security is regarded as a best practice in the industry. The PCI DSS criteria specify that FIM software must be set up to run weekly key file comparisons. More people should make advantage of the technology to support infrastructure security. Using the technology also aids in fulfilling additional PCI DSS standards, such as —

PCI DSS Requirement 1: Create and enforce standards for firewall and router setup

PCI DSS Requirement 3: Guard saved cardholder information

PCI DSS Requirement 6: Create and keep secure systems and programmes.

PCI DSS Requirement 7: Limit cardholder data access to those who require it for business purposes

PCI DSS Requirement 10: Keep track of and keep an eye on all network resource and cardholder data access.

PCI DSS Requirement 11: Continually test security procedures and systems‍

File Integrity Monitoring (FIM) software simplifies the process of fulfilling the aforementioned requirements and greatly reduces costs. 

Ideal Characteristics of a File Integrity Monitoring Software  Ideal Characteristics of a File Integrity Monitoring Software  

  • Provides updates and reports in real-time;
  • Provides  thorough documentation on key information  including  the identity of the change-makers;
  • Grants choices to view both a forensic report and a condensed summary of the file changes;
  • Offers thorough side-by-side comparisons of the files before and after the update;
  • Delivers associated warnings for security incidents and important events;
  • Gives technological support across all target environments and platform types; and,
  • Detects both planned and unexpected modifications;

What Types of Data Should be Monitored?Ideal Characteristics of a File Integrity Monitoring Software  

File Integrity Monitoring (FIM) software is used to track data changes in the following locations:

  1. System files and Libraries
  2. System Configuration files: such as those that manage the operations of a device and a host operating system.. The Windows registry and text-based Linux configuration files serve as examples.
  3. Application files: like database storage files, antivirus software, firewalls, application configuration and execution files, etc.
  4. Log files: that keep track of events, including access, transaction, and error information. The event viewer is where system log files are accessed in Windows operating systems. However, on UNIX-based systems, they are often located in the system’s /var/log directory.


PCI DSS Compliance with Akitra! Ideal Characteristics of a File Integrity Monitoring Software  

Establishing trust is a crucial competitive differentiator when courting new business in today’s era of data breaches and compromised privacy. Customers and partners want assurances that the organizations with whom they do business are doing everything possible to prevent disclosing sensitive data and putting them at risk. Compliance certification fills that need.‍

Akitra offers an industry-leading, AI-powered Compliance Automation platform for SaaS companies. Using automated evidence collection and continuous monitoring, together with a full suite of customizable policies and controls as a compliance foundation, our service helps customers become certified for PCI DSS, along with other frameworks like SOC 1, SOC 2, ISO 27001, HIPAA, GDPR and NIST 800-53. Our compliance and security experts will also provide you with the customized guidance you need to confidently navigate the end-to-end compliance process. 

The benefits of our solution include enormous savings in time, human resources, and money — including discounted audit fees with our audit firm partners. Customers achieve compliance certification fast and cost-effectively, stay continuously compliant as they grow, and can become certified under additional frameworks using a single compliance automation platform.

Build customer trust. Choose Akitra TODAY!‍

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