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Point-to-Point Encryption (P2PE) Solutions

Reduce PCI DSS scope by securing transactions with validated Point-to-Point Encryption (P2PE)

Point-to-Point Encryption

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.

  • Challenges
  • Solutions
  • Benefits

Point-to-Point Encryption: Today's Challenge

  • Organizations that do not protect account data with point to point encryption may fail to comply with PCI DSS mandates, risking fines and damage to the business.
  • Attackers can steal customer account data from many places within a typical organization since it can enter intentionally or unintentionally through numerous channels (web sites, call centers and helpdesks, email systems, etc.) and it can rapidly and widely propagate throughout the organization, driving up costs of countermeasures and compliance reporting.
  • Encryption can reduce the risks but organizations must take steps to manage keys appropriately. Keys that exist in purely software-based systems are vulnerable to attack and often fall short of compliance obligations.
  • While PCI DSS has not mandated the use of point to point encryption (P2PE), organizations that do not take advantage of this point-to-point encryption approach to reduce their PCI DSS scope can incur unnecessary compliance costs.

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 minimize 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:

  • Deploy PCI DSS compliant Point-to-Point Encryption (P2PE) to protect account data and reduce compliance costs.
  • Accelerate implementation projects; payShield HSMs are pre-qualified to integrate with the CipherTrust Data Security Platform products from leading encryption vendors.
  • Take advantage of a choice of performance levels and form factors—deploy exactly what you need and only what you need, and upgrade easily as your needs change.
  • Take advantage of leading edge FPE to minimize the impact on existing systems that are now exposed to encrypted rather than plain text account data.