The Payment Card Industry Security Standards Council (PCI SSC) defines, articulates and enforces security requirements for the payments industry, including PCI Point-to-Point Encryption (P2PE) standards. Through these standards, the PCI SSC details how providers of P2PE solutions can validate their solutions, and how, by leveraging these validated solutions, merchants can reduce the scope of their PCI DSS assessments.
P2PE is a special case of application-level encryption, where encryption is applied selectively within a business application – in this case a retail point-of-sale (POS) terminal. If the point-to-point encryption process is implemented correctly, with account data being encrypted within an approved, secure cryptographic device (SCD), such as a POS terminal, and not decrypted at all within the merchant environment, there is potential for the merchant to be taken almost completely out of scope for PCI DSS.
Strict controls for protection of and access to decryption keys must be in place; in fact, the current guidance requires the use of hardware security modules (HSMs) with an appropriate security rating to protect access to those keys. Acquirers and other players in the payments chain have already begun to market value-added services that exploit P2PE to reduce compliance costs for their merchants. From a PCI DSS perspective, any system that has the capacity to decrypt account data comes into scope immediately, so the ability to insulate merchants by protecting keys within HSMs can have significant benefits for all concerned.
Point-to-point encryption: Thales solutions
Not only can Thales help you become PCI DSS compliant effectively and efficiently, but it also can help reduce your PCI DSS scope, and therefore the cost of compliance, through point-to-point encryption (P2PE). payShield HSMs are independently certified to the FIPS 140-2 level 3 standard mandated by the P2PE guidelines. payShield HSMs create a trusted environment in which key material can be safely generated, stored and managed, and where decryption operations can be performed securely. The use of HSMs in this way is directly analogous to the way HSMs are used to protect user PINs as they pass through the payments network. In both cases HSMs overcome the inherent weaknesses of purely software-based systems that could expose cryptographic keys and processes to memory scanning attacks, runtime monitoring or malicious privileged users.
Whether you choose to encrypt and decrypt account data using the Thales CipherTrust Data Security Platform, your own in-house developed software, or third-party commercial applications, payShield HSMs are easy to deploy and can support innovative technologies, such as Format Preserving Encryption (FPE), to minimise impact on existing business processes. These devices are already certified to integrate directly with products from our industry partners and leading POS manufacturers, assuring you of fast deployments and seamless integration with your existing systems.
By using Thales HSMs you can: