Amazon Web Services offers retailers a versatile platform to market and sell their wares to millions of prospective buyers online. But while the sophisticated platform allows merchants deliver content, receive payment and store customer data, it also exposes sensitive card payment information to fraudsters. To mitigate such risks, you are required to ascertain that your business systems are PCI compliant.
PCI Compliance- An Overview
AWS merchants handle numerous transactions involving branded credit cards that are often used by buyers. PCI data security standards are set regulations that merchants must abide by to guarantee healthy and trustworthy payment card transaction. PCI DSS is administered by PCI DSS council which was founded by Discover Financial Services, American Express, MasterCard Worldwide, JCB International, and Visa Inc.
Areas Covered by PCI DSS Compliance
Overall, PCI DSS entails putting in measures that safeguard any stored data that result from a customer using a credit card in a transaction. While there are many pain points covered in a PCI DSS compliance manual, the following are the stand out areas:
- As a merchant, you must maintain secure network firewalls
- Always encrypt data to be transferred
- You must create access controls
- A merchant must establish vulnerability management processes
- You must continuously monitor networks with testing
As a merchant, you have a right to transfer the management of risks to a third party if it guarantees efficiency and better security.
Why it’s Important to be AWS PCI Compliance
The fact that Amazon Web Service is as a Cloud Service Provider means that no CHD is processed, stored or even transmitted on this platform. Using AWS thus minimizes the risk of cyber-attack or data loss.
Even then, the AWS platform is still vulnerable to new-form attacks. As a merchant, you have a responsibility to incorporate the necessary checks in your systems to ensure that any user data is encrypted correctly and that there is a limitation on the volume of data that can be transferred to AWS cloud. You should also ascertain that your system features role-based access controls.
The above measures make it easy for you to detect and respond to attacks or even prevent them in entirety.
Common Points of Attack in System
Breaching often happens at points of capturing data and during transmission within a system. The following are thus the most vulnerable points and which need reinforcement:
- Card readers
- At store networks
- In wireless access routers
- During storage of payment card data storage
- In data transmission points
- On shopping carts or at online payment application points
How to Achieve PCI Compliance on AWS
Amazon’s Virtual Private Cloud
This is a section of the AWS cloud which allows you, the merchant, to set up a private network which you can then use as cardholder storage area. The section safeguards user data from threats that may affect your business’ IT system. In essence, the segment removes cardholder data from the easily accessible areas in your system and secures it in a different but secure location.
How the Virtual Private Cloud Works
Besides securing the CHD into a different, more secure segment, the VPC also adds layers of protection to a system through Secure Sockets Layer (SSL) Transport Layer Security (TLS) layers. Through these layers, computers exchange data in encrypted format thus making the transmitted data safer.
The downside of SSL and TLS layers is that they allow the exchange of large volumes of data which can slow down transmission over time.
Elastic Load Balancing (ELB)
This automated security feature distributes incoming application requests to multiple terminals on networked processes so as to speed up data transmission. The terminals may include IP addresses, containers, and Amazon EC2 instances. To improve the security of information within your systems, ELB features three faults tolerant, high availability load balancers that further boost the security of data in transmission. These loaders include:
Application Load Balancer (ALB)
The ALB provides advanced routing of traffic to containers, EC2 instances, and IP addresses depending on the kind of request. The ALBs are ideal for load balancing HTTP and HTTPS traffic as it simplifies application and boosts their security.
Network Load Balancer (NLB)
The NLB operates at layer connection. It mainly routes incoming connections basing on the IP protocol data. The NLB can handle thousands of requests in a second and at ultra-low latencies. It is ideal for handling volatile traffic patterns as it only needs a single static IP address.
Classic Loader Balance (CLB)
CLB offers basic load balancing on multiple Amazon EC2 instances. It operates at both connection level and request level making it ideal for applications built within the EC2-Classic network. The main advantage of CLB is that it has high availability, it’s secure, and it also allows for SSL offloading.
Incorporating AWS Services into your Company
Amazon Machine Image allows merchants to set up virtual versions of their computer where they can run Amazon EC2 instances. Through the virtual display, you can initiate transactions by availing shopping carts. You can also alter CHD details such as customer name and residence.
Your customers can also leverage the AWS cloud service to customize their operating system thus easing their online undertakings. By using the provided application programming interfaces, you can package your products and services to meet the needs of your customer.
AWS is PCI DSS compliant as it offers 58 PCI DSS compliant services that include the SageMaker and AWS CloudTrail. You can be assured that whenever you are using AWS, your business transactions are secured. This guarantees customer trust and thus continued growth.
Learn more about AWS and PCI Compliance at Reprocitylabs.com.
Ken Lynch is an enterprise software startup veteran, who has always been fascinated by what drives workers to work and how to make work more engaging. Ken founded Reciprocity to pursue just that. He has propelled Reciprocity’s success with this mission-based goal of engaging employees with the governance, risk, and compliance goals of their company in order to create more socially minded corporate citizens. Ken earned his BS in Computer Science and Electrical Engineering from MIT.