PCI DSS Requirements for Tokenization


Tokenization is designed to defend against the types of confidential information of possible fraud or system piracy, which can also cause many problems for the company and the customer. Along with the integration of the tokenization service, companies are also reminded to remember that they must meet the requirements of the industry (PCI DSS). And this technology is a great option for this purpose, as it substantially reduces costs to comply with industry standards.

PCI DDS for tokenization

What does PCI mean in tokenization?

PCI DSS is a set of industry rules that companies that accept payments must follow. The key demand states that companies are required to provide secure storage of user information, especially those related to CHD (cardholder data). The main task is to ensure that personal information of customers will not be disclosed to unauthorized persons.

The tokenization process means that we replace all original information with non-confidential units: tokens. And the best part is that the tokens have no value outside of their environments, which means they can’t be used by thieves.

Therefore, the key benefits that a company can get are:

  • Businesses reduce the amount of data they need to store securely, which in turn reduces the cost of matching PCI
  • Companies minimize the risk of being sanctioned or fined by the industry regulator

Implementation of PCI tokenization

As mentioned, data protection is the main goal of tokenization. We consider some options when we can consider tokenization solutions for PCI.

Companies can expand their platforms by:

  • Provide periodic validation to check how efficient tokenization works when it comes to protecting personal information to prevent it from being revealed outside of your environments, or even from fields, that are not under PCI scope.
  • Inspecting tokenization solutions to ensure they work properly and provide a high level of security.
  • Minimize various risks related to tokenization, such as deployment, deTokenization, encryption process, and so on.

If we pay attention to how tokenization is implemented and make sure it works as it should, we can facilitate compliance with the requirements and also avoid confidential information such as exposure to CHD or PII.

Cybersecurity update

Main PCI requirements

The reason behind the industry standards that companies must follow is to safeguard the CHD during all the processes in which they can participate.

While performing the tokenization, we must ensure that:

  • No confidential data would be exposed during both the tokenization and deTokenization processes.
  • All the elements involved in tokenization are kept within internal networks, which are also highly protected.
  • There is a secure communication channel between each of the environments.
  • CDH is secured and protected with encryption while stored, and also when transferred over networks, especially if these are public.
  • All necessary steps have been taken to provide only authorized access control.
  • The system has solid configuration standards to avoid vulnerabilities and possible exploits.
  • CHD can be safely removed when needed.
  • All processes are monitored, accident reports are activated and, when problems occur, the system has an adequate response to solve them.

By implementing recommendations, companies can minimize the risk of piracy and comply with industry regulations.

Sheets and maps

Once we know what tokenization is, let’s take a closer look at its main elements: tokens. These units act as a representation of the original information, which was replaced. At the same time, cards are mapped, without exposure, as they are random symbols, numbers, letters, etc.

The system creates tokens using different functions, which can be based on cryptographic methods, or hashing and indexing.

In the process of creating files, we should also comply with the rules of the sector, some of which include:

  • Units that have replaced the original information (PAN) cannot be reconstructed with tab knowledge.
  • The inability to predict complete information with access to witness pairs in PAN.
  • The tokens should not reveal any information or values ​​if they were hacked.
  • Authentication data cannot be represented in any way.

Another part of witness compliance is their mapping. As with the creation process, once the token is generated and linked to the information it has replaced, there is also a set of rules for the mapping process. This includes:

  • Map tools can only be accessed through authorized parts.
  • The process of replacing the original information with a linked witness should be monitored to prevent authorized access.
  • All components of the mapping process comply with the PCI guidelines.

Token Vault

As with map systems, storage, where the original CHD is stored, should also match the PCI rule set.

Once the token is created, the actual information behind it reaches the vault and is mapped to a corresponding token.

According to the guidelines, companies should ensure high security standards for the vault, as all confidential information is stored here. Thus, in the case, when storage is hacked, the protection provided by tokens is no longer useful.

Key management

Key management

To avoid potential vulnerabilities, all components involved in the tokenization process, such as data creation, use, and protection, must be properly managed with robust encryption.

Cryptographic key management includes rules such as:

  • There should be high security controls on the vaults, where PANs and tokens are stored.
  • Ensure that keys, which are used to encrypt PANs, are generated and stored securely.
  • Both token creation and deTokenization processes are protected.
  • All tokenization components are only available in defined environments within the PCI scope.

Tokenization solutions to meet the requirements

The main reason for tokenization is to provide secure environments, preserve and transmit data, and meet the demands of the industry. With proper tokenization, companies can feel free from their security systems and the possibility of being penalized by regulators.

It is recommended to make sure that the tokenization provider complies with the PCI guidelines before signing the contract, as you are the one who pays for the breach and has full responsibility to the regulators.



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