Click here to close now.


API Journal Authors: Pat Romanski, Liz McMillan, Jason Bloomberg, Elizabeth White, Carmen Gonzalez

Related Topics: Cloud Security

Cloud Security: Blog Feed Post

Complying with PCI DSS – Part 3

Part 3: Maintain a Vulnerability Management Program

According to the PCI SSC, there are 12 PCI DSS requirements that satisfy a variety of security goals.  Areas of focus include building and maintaining a secure network, protecting stored cardholder data, maintaining a vulnerability management program, implementing strong access control measures, regularly monitoring and testing networks, and maintaining information security policies. 

The essential framework of the PCI DSS encompasses assessment, remediation, and reporting.  We’re exploring how F5 can help organizations gain or maintain compliance and today is Maintain a Vulnerability Management Program which includes PCI Requirements 5 and 6. 

To read Part 1, click: Complying with PCI DSS–Part 1: Build and Maintain a Secure Network and Part 2: Complying with PCI DSS–Part 2: Protect Cardholder Data

Requirement 5: Use and regularly update antivirus software or programs.

PCI DSS Quick Reference Guide description: Vulnerability management is the process of systematically and continuously finding weaknesses in an entity’s payment card infrastructure system.  This includes security procedures, system design, implementation, or internal controls that could be exploited to violate system security policy.

Solution: With BIG-IP APM and BIG-IP Edge Gateway, F5 provides the ability to scan any remote device or internal system to ensure that an updated antivirus package is running prior to permitting a connection to the network.  Once connections are made, BIG-IP APM and BIG-IP Edge Gateway continually monitor the user connections for a vulnerable state change, and if one is detected, can quarantine the user on the fly into a safe, secure, and isolated network.  Remediation services can include a URL redirect to an antivirus update server.  For application servers in the data center, BIG-IP products can communicate with existing network security and monitoring tools.  If an application server is found to be vulnerable or compromised, that device can be automatically quarantined or removed from the service pool.

With BIG-IP ASM, file uploads can be extracted from requests and transferred over iCAP to a central antivirus (AV) scanner.  If a file infection is detected, BIG-IP ASM will drop that request, making sure the file doesn’t reach the web server.


Requirement 6: Develop and maintain secure systems and applications.

PCI DSS Quick Reference Guide description: Security vulnerabilities in systems and applications may allow criminals to access PAN and other cardholder data.  Many of these vulnerabilities are eliminated by installing vendor-provided security patches, which perform a quick-repair job for a specific piece of programming code.  All critical systems must have the most recently released software patches to prevent exploitation.  Entities should apply patches to less-critical systems as soon as possible, based on a risk-based vulnerability management program.  Secure coding practices for developing applications, change control procedures, and other secure software development practices should always be followed.

Solution: Requirements 6.1 through 6.5 deal with secure coding and application development; risk analysis, assessment, and mitigation; patching; and change control.  Requirement 6.6 states: “Ensure all public-facing web applications are protected against known attacks, either by performing code vulnerability reviews at least annually or by installing a web application firewall in front of public-facing web applications.”

This requirement can be easily met with BIG-IP ASM, which is a leading web application firewall (WAF) offering protection for vulnerable web applications.  Using both a positive security model for dynamic application protection and a strong, signature-based negative security model, BIG-IP ASM provides application-layer protection against both targeted and generalized application attacks. 

It also protects against the Open Web Application Security Project (OWASP) Top Ten vulnerabilities and threats on the Web Application Security Consortium’s (WASC) Threat Classification lists.  To assess a web application’s vulnerability, most organizations turn to a vulnerability scanner. The scanning schedule might depend on a change in control, as when an application is initially being deployed, or other triggers such as a quarterly report.  The vulnerability scanner scours the web application, and in some cases actually attempts potential attacks, to generate a report indicating all possible vulnerabilities. 

This gives the administrator managing the web security devices a clear view of all  exposed areas and potential threats to the website.  Such a report is a moment-in time assessment and might not result in full application coverage, but should give administrators a clear picture of their web application security posture.  It includes information about coding errors, weak authentication mechanisms, fields or parameters that query the database directly, or other vulnerabilities that provide unauthorized access to information, sensitive or not.  Otherwise, many of these vulnerabilities would need to be manually re-coded or manually added to the WAF policy—both expensive undertakings.

Simply having the vulnerability report, while beneficial, doesn’t make a web application secure.  The real value of the report lies in how it enables an organization to determine the risk level and how best to mitigate the risk.  Since recoding an application is expensive and time-consuming and may generate even more errors, many organizations deploy a WAF like BIG-IP ASM.  A WAF enables an organization to protect its web applications by virtually patching the open vulnerabilities until developers have an opportunity to properly close the hole. 

Often, organizations use the vulnerability scanner report to either tighten or initially generate a WAF policy.  While finding vulnerabilities helps organizations understand their exposure, they must also have the ability to quickly mitigate those vulnerabilities to greatly reduce the risk of application exploits.  The longer an application remains vulnerable, the more likely it is to be compromised.

For cloud deployments, BIG-IP ASM Virtual Edition (VE) delivers the same functionality as the physical edition and helps companies maintain compliance, including compliance with PCI DSS, when they deploy applications in the cloud. If an application vulnerability is discovered, BIG-IP ASM VE can quickly be deployed in a cloud environment, enabling organizations to immediately patch vulnerabilities virtually until the development team can permanently fix the application.  Additionally, organizations are often unable to fix applications developed by third parties, and this lack of control prevents many of them from considering cloud deployments. 

But with BIG-IP ASM VE, organizations have full control over securing their cloud infrastructure.  BIG-IP ASM version 11.1 includes integration with IBM Rational AppScan, Cenzic Hailstorm, QualysGuard WAS, and WhiteHat Sentinel, making BIG-IP ASM the most advanced vulnerability assessment and application protection on the market.  In addition, administrators can better create and enforce policies with information about attack patterns from a grouping of violations or otherwise correlated incidents. In this way, BIG-IP ASM protects the applications between scanning and patching cycles and against zero-day attacks that signature-based scanners won’t find.  Both are critical in creating a secure Application Delivery Network.

BIG-IP ASM also makes it easy to understand where organizations stand relative to PCI DSS compliance.  With the BIG-IP ASM PCI Compliance Report, organizations can quickly see each security measure required to comply with PCI DSS 2.0 and understand which measures are or are not relevant to BIG-IP ASM functions. 

For relevant security measures, the report indicates whether the organization’s BIG-IP ASM appliance complies with PCI DSS 2.0. For security measures that are not relevant to BIG-IP ASM, the report explains what action to take to achieve PCI DSS 2.0 compliance.

BIG-IP ASM PCI Compliance Report

Finally, with the unique F5 iHealth system, organizations can analyze the configuration of their BIG-IP products to identify any critical patches or security updates that may be necessary.

Next: Implement Strong Access Control Measures

More Stories By Peter Silva

Peter Silva covers security for F5’s Technical Marketing Team. After working in Professional Theatre for 10 years, Peter decided to change careers. Starting out with a small VAR selling Netopia routers and the Instant Internet box, he soon became one of the first six Internet Specialists for AT&T managing customers on the original ATT WorldNet network.

Now having his Telco background he moved to Verio to focus on access, IP security along with web hosting. After losing a deal to Exodus Communications (now Savvis) for technical reasons, the customer still wanted Peter as their local SE contact so Exodus made him an offer he couldn’t refuse. As only the third person hired in the Midwest, he helped Exodus grow from an executive suite to two enormous datacenters in the Chicago land area working with such customers as Ticketmaster, Rolling Stone, uBid, Orbitz, Best Buy and others.

Bringing the slightly theatrical and fairly technical together, he covers training, writing, speaking, along with overall product evangelism for F5’s security line. He's also produced over 200 F5 videos and recorded over 50 audio whitepapers. Prior to joining F5, he was the Business Development Manager with Pacific Wireless Communications. He’s also been in such plays as The Glass Menagerie, All’s Well That Ends Well, Cinderella and others. He earned his B.S. from Marquette University, and is a certified instructor in the Wisconsin System of Vocational, Technical & Adult Education.

Comments (0)

Share your thoughts on this story.

Add your comment
You must be signed in to add a comment. Sign-in | Register

In accordance with our Comment Policy, we encourage comments that are on topic, relevant and to-the-point. We will remove comments that include profanity, personal attacks, racial slurs, threats of violence, or other inappropriate material that violates our Terms and Conditions, and will block users who make repeated violations. We ask all readers to expect diversity of opinion and to treat one another with dignity and respect.

@ThingsExpo Stories
The broad selection of hardware, the rapid evolution of operating systems and the time-to-market for mobile apps has been so rapid that new challenges for developers and engineers arise every day. Security, testing, hosting, and other metrics have to be considered through the process. In his session at Big Data Expo, Walter Maguire, Chief Field Technologist, HP Big Data Group, at Hewlett-Packard, will discuss the challenges faced by developers and a composite Big Data applications builder, focusing on how to help solve the problems that developers are continuously battling.
Nowadays, a large number of sensors and devices are connected to the network. Leading-edge IoT technologies integrate various types of sensor data to create a new value for several business decision scenarios. The transparent cloud is a model of a new IoT emergence service platform. Many service providers store and access various types of sensor data in order to create and find out new business values by integrating such data.
NHK, Japan Broadcasting will feature upcoming @ThingsExpo Silicon Valley in a special IoT documentary which will be filmed on the expo floor November 3 to 5, 2015 in Santa Clara. NHK is the sole public TV network in Japan equivalent to BBC in UK and the largest in Asia with many award winning science and technology programs. Japanese TV is producing a documentary about IoT and Smart technology covering @ThingsExpo Silicon Valley. The program will be aired during the highest viewership season of the year that it will have a high impact in the industry through this documentary in Japan. The film...
SYS-CON Events announced today that Luxoft Holding, Inc., a leading provider of software development services and innovative IT solutions, has been named “Bronze Sponsor” of SYS-CON's @ThingsExpo, which will take place on November 3–5, 2015, at the Santa Clara Convention Center in Santa Clara, CA. Luxoft’s software development services consist of core and mission-critical custom software development and support, product engineering and testing, and technology consulting.
Developing software for the Internet of Things (IoT) comes with its own set of challenges. Security, privacy, and unified standards are a few key issues. In addition, each IoT product is comprised of at least three separate application components: the software embedded in the device, the backend big-data service, and the mobile application for the end user's controls. Each component is developed by a different team, using different technologies and practices, and deployed to a different stack/target - this makes the integration of these separate pipelines and the coordination of software upd...
SYS-CON Events announced today that IBM Cloud Data Services has been named “Bronze Sponsor” of SYS-CON's 17th Cloud Expo, which will take place on November 3–5, 2015, at the Santa Clara Convention Center in Santa Clara, CA. IBM Cloud Data Services offers a portfolio of integrated, best-of-breed cloud data services for developers focused on mobile computing and analytics use cases.
In his session at @ThingsExpo, Tony Shan, Chief Architect at CTS, will explore the synergy of Big Data and IoT. First he will take a closer look at the Internet of Things and Big Data individually, in terms of what, which, why, where, when, who, how and how much. Then he will explore the relationship between IoT and Big Data. Specifically, he will drill down to how the 4Vs aspects intersect with IoT: Volume, Variety, Velocity and Value. In turn, Tony will analyze how the key components of IoT influence Big Data: Device, Connectivity, Context, and Intelligence. He will dive deep to the matrix...
When it comes to IoT in the enterprise, namely the commercial building and hospitality markets, a benefit not getting the attention it deserves is energy efficiency, and IoT’s direct impact on a cleaner, greener environment when installed in smart buildings. Until now clean technology was offered piecemeal and led with point solutions that require significant systems integration to orchestrate and deploy. There didn't exist a 'top down' approach that can manage and monitor the way a Smart Building actually breathes - immediately flagging overheating in a closet or over cooling in unoccupied ho...
SYS-CON Events announced today that Cloud Raxak has been named “Media & Session Sponsor” of SYS-CON's 17th Cloud Expo, which will take place on November 3–5, 2015, at the Santa Clara Convention Center in Santa Clara, CA. Raxak Protect automates security compliance across private and public clouds. Using the SaaS tool or managed service, developers can deploy cloud apps quickly, cost-effectively, and without error.
Scott Guthrie's keynote presentation "Journey to the intelligent cloud" is a must view video. This is from AzureCon 2015, September 29, 2015 I have reproduced some screen shots in case you are unable to view this long video for one reason or another. One of the highlights is 3 datacenters coming on line in India.
“The Internet of Things transforms the way organizations leverage machine data and gain insights from it,” noted Splunk’s CTO Snehal Antani, as Splunk announced accelerated momentum in Industrial Data and the IoT. The trend is driven by Splunk’s continued investment in its products and partner ecosystem as well as the creativity of customers and the flexibility to deploy Splunk IoT solutions as software, cloud services or in a hybrid environment. Customers are using Splunk® solutions to collect and correlate data from control systems, sensors, mobile devices and IT systems for a variety of Ind...
SYS-CON Events announced today that ProfitBricks, the provider of painless cloud infrastructure, will exhibit at SYS-CON's 17th International Cloud Expo®, which will take place on November 3–5, 2015, at the Santa Clara Convention Center in Santa Clara, CA. ProfitBricks is the IaaS provider that offers a painless cloud experience for all IT users, with no learning curve. ProfitBricks boasts flexible cloud servers and networking, an integrated Data Center Designer tool for visual control over the cloud and the best price/performance value available. ProfitBricks was named one of the coolest Clo...
You have your devices and your data, but what about the rest of your Internet of Things story? Two popular classes of technologies that nicely handle the Big Data analytics for Internet of Things are Apache Hadoop and NoSQL. Hadoop is designed for parallelizing analytical work across many servers and is ideal for the massive data volumes you create with IoT devices. NoSQL databases such as Apache HBase are ideal for storing and retrieving IoT data as “time series data.”
Clearly the way forward is to move to cloud be it bare metal, VMs or containers. One aspect of the current public clouds that is slowing this cloud migration is cloud lock-in. Every cloud vendor is trying to make it very difficult to move out once a customer has chosen their cloud. In his session at 17th Cloud Expo, Naveen Nimmu, CEO of Clouber, Inc., will advocate that making the inter-cloud migration as simple as changing airlines would help the entire industry to quickly adopt the cloud without worrying about any lock-in fears. In fact by having standard APIs for IaaS would help PaaS expl...
Organizations already struggle with the simple collection of data resulting from the proliferation of IoT, lacking the right infrastructure to manage it. They can't only rely on the cloud to collect and utilize this data because many applications still require dedicated infrastructure for security, redundancy, performance, etc. In his session at 17th Cloud Expo, Emil Sayegh, CEO of Codero Hosting, will discuss how in order to resolve the inherent issues, companies need to combine dedicated and cloud solutions through hybrid hosting – a sustainable solution for the data required to manage I...
Apps and devices shouldn't stop working when there's limited or no network connectivity. Learn how to bring data stored in a cloud database to the edge of the network (and back again) whenever an Internet connection is available. In his session at 17th Cloud Expo, Bradley Holt, Developer Advocate at IBM Cloud Data Services, will demonstrate techniques for replicating cloud databases with devices in order to build offline-first mobile or Internet of Things (IoT) apps that can provide a better, faster user experience, both offline and online. The focus of this talk will be on IBM Cloudant, Apa...
Mobile messaging has been a popular communication channel for more than 20 years. Finnish engineer Matti Makkonen invented the idea for SMS (Short Message Service) in 1984, making his vision a reality on December 3, 1992 by sending the first message ("Happy Christmas") from a PC to a cell phone. Since then, the technology has evolved immensely, from both a technology standpoint, and in our everyday uses for it. Originally used for person-to-person (P2P) communication, i.e., Sally sends a text message to Betty – mobile messaging now offers tremendous value to businesses for customer and empl...
As more and more data is generated from a variety of connected devices, the need to get insights from this data and predict future behavior and trends is increasingly essential for businesses. Real-time stream processing is needed in a variety of different industries such as Manufacturing, Oil and Gas, Automobile, Finance, Online Retail, Smart Grids, and Healthcare. Azure Stream Analytics is a fully managed distributed stream computation service that provides low latency, scalable processing of streaming data in the cloud with an enterprise grade SLA. It features built-in integration with Azur...
SYS-CON Events announced today that HPM Networks will exhibit at the 17th International Cloud Expo®, which will take place on November 3–5, 2015, at the Santa Clara Convention Center in Santa Clara, CA. For 20 years, HPM Networks has been integrating technology solutions that solve complex business challenges. HPM Networks has designed solutions for both SMB and enterprise customers throughout the San Francisco Bay Area.
The enterprise is being consumerized, and the consumer is being enterprised. Moore's Law does not matter anymore, the future belongs to business virtualization powered by invisible service architecture, powered by hyperscale and hyperconvergence, and facilitated by vertical streaming and horizontal scaling and consolidation. Both buyers and sellers want instant results, and from paperwork to paperless to mindless is the ultimate goal for any seamless transaction. The sweetest sweet spot in innovation is automation. The most painful pain point for any business is the mismatch between supplies a...