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Source Doc: PCI DSS Virtualization Guidelines

Identity, Information Security, Source Doc
Author: Mark Dixon
Wednesday, June 15, 2011
1:41 pm

On June 14th, the PCI Security Standards Council announced publication of the PCI DSS Virtualization Guidelines Information Supplement, which “provides guidance to those in the payment chain on the use of virtualization technology in cardholder data environments in accordance with PCI DSS.”

The introductory section in this document outlines four principles associated with the use of virtualization in cardholder data environments:

  1. If virtualization technologies are used in a cardholder data environment, PCI DSS requirements apply to those virtualization technologies.
  2. Virtualization technology introduces new risks that may not be relevant to other technologies, and that must be assessed when adopting virtualization in cardholder data environments.
  3. Implementations of virtual technologies can vary greatly, and entities will need to perform a thorough discovery to identify and document the unique characteristics of their particular virtualized implementation, including all interactions with payment transaction processes and payment card data.
  4. There is no one-size-fits-all method or solution to configure virtualized environments to meet PCI DSS requirements. Specific controls and procedures will vary for each environment, according to how virtualization is used and implemented.

After giving an overview of virtualization, the report sets forth a detailed review of risks inherent in a virtualized environment and specific recommendations about how to deal with those risks.

The document’s appendix describes in detail how each of the 12 broad PCI security controls that are mandated for logical environments need to be applied in a virtual setting.

I have long thought the PCI DSS specification to be a good example of how an industry regulates itself.  The Virtualization Guidelines document shows once again how the payments industry is in step with recent trends in Information Technology.

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