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The Coalfire Blog

What's Next in Retail IT? The Convergence of Mobile, P2PE and the Cloud

January 15, 2013, Rick Dakin, CEO, Co-founder and Chief Security Strategist

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Rick Dakin

Greetings from the Javits Center in New York City, the site of the National Retail Federation’s Big Show.  This year, the theme of NRF is “Next”.

When it comes to Retail technology – and in particular, security and compliance, the most talked about “next” things are:

  1. Mobile
  2. Point-to-Point Encryption (P2PE)
  3. Cloud

These are big trends in their own right, and they are converging. Several manufacturers are demonstrating mobile devices that address payment risk via encryption.  Imagine taking payments many new ways, stripping out toxic cardholder data, and having your data stored in and accessible from  a cloud.   It promises to be convenient, relatively secure and much less expensive to deploy and operate.  

As a QSA, we are also encouraged that merchants and vendors are innovating and making progress in advance of the PCI Compliance reporting curve.  As you probably know, there is a shortage (actually absence) of validated P2PE solutions, but smart merchants are still considering the solutions. In fact, several of our clients are piloting and deploying those systems already, and we are working through their Reports on Compliance (ROCs) and self-assessment questionnaires (SAQs) with these solutions in the mix.  PCI Compliance validation is still a best practice, and it’s helping them invest wisely.

But buyer beware of un-validated payment applications!  Only a select few technologies have gone through PA-DSS validation, and this is going to pose a challenge for PCI compliance efforts. We are seeing a lot of iPad and other mobile POS platforms on the show floor, and many of them will never get PA-DSS validation under the Council’s current guidelines.  This isn’t stopping eager merchants from acquiring the devices, but those merchants could face compliance penalties if they aren’t careful.  Our recommendation: work with your QSA to investigate solutions and compliance implications before your dive in too deeply; it will save you time, money and aggravation.


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