Thursday, 9 March 2017

PCI DSS Fines? Cyber Insurance? How to Estimate the Cost of a Payment Card Breach

How much does a payment card breach cost? How large are the potential fines? What happens if we aren't PCI DSS complaint and suffer a cardholder breach?

Those are common unanswered questions which businesses accepting and processing debit and credit card payments raise, businesses which are required to be compliant with the Payment Card Industry Data Security Standard (PCI DSS). In recent years a growing number of UK businesses are taking out cybersecurity insurance, and are more pressingly wanting to know whether their insurance coverage is sufficient enough to cover the cost of a payment card data breach.

It is not possible to produce a formula or calculator to provide precise payment card breach costs on a per card lost basis, as no two business payment operations are ever the same, and there are just too many factors that can impact the overall cost of a breach.  So instead I have put together the following six pointers to aid the estimation of a payment card breach.

Calculating the Approximate cost of a Payment Card Breach 
1. All Payment Card Data breaches must be investigated by PCI Qualified Forensic Investigator (QFI).  Depending on the technical complexity and scale of the breach, the cost equates to the number of investigator hours and days required, depending that expect to fork out around £20,000 to £100,000 for a QFI. It is worth noting should a business not play ball with the acquiring bank, card brands and card issuers in appointing a QFI, they can remove entire business' capability to take card payments altogether, so there is no choice but to dig deep from the outset upon a data breach discovery.

2. Following the forensic investigation, completion of remediation work and a successful PCI DSS level 1 QSA assessment is required. Remediation work and Qualified Security Assessor (QSA) assessment as a PCI DSS level 1 merchant or processor typically costs up to £100,000, depending on the environment that is in-scope of compliance. This will be a considerable new overhead for environments deemed as PCI DSS level 2, 3 or 4, as these would have previously been self-assessed by the business.

3. The cost per payment card breach is very subjective, however, Verizon's 2015 Data Breach Investigations Report page 30 figure 23, gives a good indication on the "cost per card lost", which I have converted from US dollars.

Optimists should read the left side of the table, pessimists should read the right side of the table.

4. Often there will be a penalty surcharge levied per transaction following a breach, adding an increase to every payment transaction.

5. Reputational damages, loss of customer and client trust in the business and brand, this is a hard figure to quantify, but it is worth noting most cyber insurance policies does not cover any business losses due to reputational damages following data breaches.

6. The Information Commissioners Office (ICO) regards payment card data as Personal Information, which means they can add an up to £500,000 per payment card data breaches. And from May 2018 when the new GDPR data privacy regulation kicks in, potential data protection fines will ramp significantly, especially for large enterprises, with fines of up to 4% of the global turnover of the entire business.

So take the worse case breach scenario, namely a compromise of all payment cards ever stored and processed, apply the above costs, and you should have a worse case scenario ballpark figure. If that number doesn't focus minds and incentivise a robust PCI DSS compliance programme and investment in cyber security, nothing will.



Why Passing a PCI DSS Assesment isn't a 'Get out of Jail Free Card'
No business operating in a PCI DSS compliant state is known to have been breached. Passing a PCI DSS assessment does not mean the business is actually PCI DSS compliant, and it certainly is not a 'get out of jail free' card or carries any weight if a breach occurs. A PCI DSS compliance business means the in-scope of compliance environment and operations meets every single PCI DSS requirement in a continual state of operation, 365 days a year, 24 hours a day, and for every single second.

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