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QotW #13: Standards for server security, besides PCI-DSS?

2011-11-11 by . 0 comments

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The Question of the week this week was asked by nealmcb in response to the ever wider list of standards which apply in different industries. The Financial Services industry has a well defined set of standards including the Payment Card Industry Data Security Standard (PCI-DSS) which focuses specifically on credit card data and primary account numbers, but neal’s core question is this:

Are there standards and related server certifications that are more suitable for e.g. web sites that hold a variety of sensitive personal information that is not financial (e.g. social networking sites), or government or military sites, or sites that run private or public elections?

This question hasn’t inspired a large number of answers, which is surprising, as complying with security standards is becoming an ever more important part of running a business.

The answers which have been provided are useful, however, with links to standards provided by the following:

From Gabe:

Of these, the CIS standards are being used more and more in industry as they provide a simple baseline which should be altered to fit circumstances but is a relatively good starting point out of the box.

Jeff Ferland provided a longer list:

And as I tend to be pretty heavily involved with the ISF, I included a link to the Standard of Good Practice which is publicly available and is exactly what it sounds like: rational good practice in security.

From all these (and many more) it can be seen that there is a wide range of standards which all have a different focus on security- which supports this.josh‘s comment:

As is often noted in questions and answers on this site, the solution depends on what you are protecting and who you are protecting it from. Even similar industries under different jurisdictions may need different protections. Thus I think it makes sense for specific industries and organizations to produce their own standards.

A quick look at questions tagged Compliance shows discussion on Data Protection Act, HIPAA, FDA, SEC guidelines, RBI and more.

If you are in charge of IT or Information Security, Audit or Risk, it is essential that you know which standards are appropriate to you, which ones are mandatory, which are optional, which may be required by a business partner etc., and to be honest it can be a bit of a minefield.

The good thing is – this is one of the areas where the Stack Exchange model works really well. If you ask the question “Is this setup PCI compliant” there are enough practitioners, QSA’s and experienced individuals on the site that an answer should be very straightforward. Of course, you would still need a QSA to accredit, but as a step towards understanding what you need to do, Security.StackExchange.com proves its worth.

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