TelstraClear embarks on PCI security project

AUCKLAND – Telecommunications provider TelstraClear is investing more than NZ$1 million (US$645,000) over two years to be one of first ISPs in New Zealand to be compliant with the PCI (Payments Card Industry) data security standards.

The project involves meeting 211 requirements and has two deadlines — June 2009 and September 2010, says TelstraClear CIO Andrew Crabb. By the end of June next year there can be no storage onsite of PIN numbers, credit card numbers or information from the metallic strips on credit cards, he says.

The $1 million investment, which will be mostly put into auditing and verification, aims to tighten online security of credit card details and ensure customers their information is secure, particularly when using Web applications and online self-service, says Crabb.

Internally, the project is not expected to interfere much with the business. The project is about how the organization treats any information or data, and this will be handled in the systems and the network, he says.

“It shouldn’t be visible in the day-to-day work practices,” he says.

TelstraClear is looking to become a PCI “Level 1” merchant and provider, which means that the requirements are “as stringent as they get”, says Crabb. There are different levels of criteria, and not meeting these will incur significant penalties.

The 211 requirements are divided into six main categories. These include building and maintaining a secure network; protection of cardholder data; maintaining an ongoing management program to ensure the organization is not vulnerable; implementation of access control measures; regular monitoring and testing; and maintaining an information security policy, he says.

The organization also needs to make some changes into firewalls to make sure any sensitive data that is transacted is encrypted, he adds.

TelstraClear is also planning to develop, and take to market, products to assist its business customers meet the PCI data security criteria, says Crabb. The standard will hit anyone who wants to take credit card payments, and smaller organizations may struggle to come up with the funds to go through the process, he says.

TelstraClear must have full certification proof of compliance by September 2010. The compliance process is governed by banks, in TelstraClear’s case BNZ, he says.

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