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Let's talk about PCI-DSS

Langley Rock published on 2018-02-28T14:30:00+00:00, last updated 2018-02-28T14:52:03+00:00

For those who aren’t familiar with Payment Card Industry Data Security Standard (PCI-DSS), it is the standard that is intended to protect our credit card data as it flows between systems and is stored in company databases. PCI-DSS requires that all vulnerabilities rated equal to, or higher than, CVSS 4.0 must be addressed by PCI-DSS compliant organizations (notably, those which process and/or store cardholder data). While this was done with the best of intentions, it has had an impact on many organizations' capability to remediate these vulnerabilities in their environment.

The qualitative severity ratings of vulnerabilities as categorized by Red Hat Product Security do not directly align with the baseline ratings recommended by CVSS. These CVSS scores and ratings are used by PCI-DSS and most scanning tools. As a result, there may be cases where a vulnerability which would be rated as low severity by Red Hat, may exceed the CVSS’ recommended threshold for PCI-DSS.

Red Hat has published guidelines on vulnerability classification. Red Hat Product Security prioritizes focus of security flaw remediation on Critical and Important vulnerabilities, which provide compromise to confidentiality, data, and/or availability. This is not intended to downplay the importance of lower severity vulnerabilities, but rather, aims to target those risks which are seen as most important by our customers and industry at large. CVSS ratings for vulnerabilities build upon a set of assumptions, factoring in a worst-case scenario (i.e. the CVSS calculator leaves all Temporal and Environmental factors set to “undefined”) possibly resulting in an environment that has no security mitigations or blocking controls in place, which might not be an accurate representation of your environment. Specifically, a given flaw may be less significant in your application depending how the function is used, whether it is exposed to untrusted data, or whether it enforces a privilege boundary. It is Red Hat’s position, that the base CVSS scores alone cannot reliably be used to fully capture the importance of flaws in every use case.

In most cases, security issues will be addressed when updates are available upstream. However, as noted above, there may be cases where a vulnerability rated as low severity by Red Hat, may exceed the CVSS’ threshold for vulnerability mitigation by the PCI-DSS standard and be considered actionable by a security scanner or during an audit by a Qualified Scanning Auditor (QSA).

In light of the above, Red Hat does not claim any of its products meet PCI-DSS compliance requirements. We do strive to provide secure software solutions and guidance to help remediate vulnerabilities of notable importance to our customers.

When there is a discrepancy in the security flaw ratings, we suggest the following:

  • Harden your system: Determine if the component is needed or used. In many cases, scans will pick up on packages which are included in the distribution but do not need to be deployed in the production environment. If customers can remove these packages, or replace with another unaffected package, without impacting their functional system, they reduce the attack surface and reduce the number of components which might be targeted.

  • Validate the application: Determine if the situation is a false positive. (Red Hat often backports fixes which may result in false positives for version-detecting scanning products).

  • Self-evaluate the severity: Update the base CVSS score by calculating the environmental factors that are relevant, document the updated CVSS score for the vulnerability respective to your environment. All CVSS vector strings in our CVE pages link to the CVSS calculator on FIRST's website, with the base score pre-populated so that customers just need to fill in their other metrics.

  • Implement other controls to limit (or eliminate) exposure of the vulnerable interface or system.

Further technical information to make these determinations can often be found from product support, in the various technical articles and blogs Red Hat makes available, in CVE pages’ Statement or Mitigation sections and in Bugzilla tickets. Customers with support agreements can reach out to product support for additional assistance to evaluate the potential risk for their environment, and confirm if the vulnerability jeopardizes the confidentiality of PCI-DSS data.

Red Hat recognizes vulnerability scores and impacts may differ, and are there to help you assess your environment. As a customer, you can open a support case and provide us the feedback that matters to you. Our support and product teams value this feedback and will use it to provide better results.


About The Author

Langley Rock

Langley Rock (aka LeRock) is a Program Manager for Product Security at Red Hat. With over 20 years of combined experience in network, product and data security and compliance, Langley has worked at numerous companies focused on telecom, product security and healthcare. Langley has served as a Se...