By Integrity360 on November 15, 2023

What is new in PCI DSS 4.0?

Industry Trends & Insights

The Payment Card Industry Data Security Standard (PCI DSS) has been the bedrock of cardholder data protection since its launch in 2006. With the implementation deadline of March 31st 2024 rapidly approaching, the standard has undergone a significant transformation since its previous version to address the evolving demands and complex nature of modern cyber threats.  

Exploring PCI DSS 4.0 

PCI DSS 4.0 represents the most current iteration of the Payment Card Industry standard, bringing about pivotal changes in compliance requirements. This version places an emphasis on: 

  • Increased focus on cloud and service providers 
  • Expanded scope of requirements 
  • Emphasis on risk-based approach 
  • Enhanced focus on data protection 
  • Continuous monitoring and testing 

and introduces new technical and operational requirements for achieving compliance. 

The Goals of PCI DSS 4.0 

The update to the standard is driven by four main objectives: 

  • To keep pace with the changing payment industry: As the industry advances, the standards must also progress to maintain relevance. 
  • To promote continuous security: Security must be an ongoing endeavour, not a one-time checklist. 
  • To provide flexibility in maintaining payment security: The standard now recognises the diversity of technologies and processes, allowing for more customisation. 
  • To improve validation methods and procedures: It is crucial that the methods for validating compliance are as strong as the security measures they aim to verify. 

Key Developments in PCI DSS 4.0 

Introduction of the Customised Approach 

The most significant change from PCI DSS 3.2.1 to 4.0 is the introduction of the Customized Approach. This concept allows entities to move beyond the traditional 'Defined Approach', which required strict adherence to the technical controls as specified in the standard. Instead, with the Customized Approach, entities have the flexibility to select controls that they deem most suitable for their environment to manage associated risks. This offers greater adaptability and the ability to embrace innovative solutions. In PCI DSS v4.0, entities have the choice to use either the Defined Approach or the Customized Approach, depending on their specific needs and circumstances. 

Updated and New Requirements 

Alongside the Customised Approach, PCI DSS 4.0 has updated existing requirements and introduced new ones to mitigate emerging threats. Key updates include: 

  • Strengthened authentication controls, with a particular emphasis on multi-factor authentication. 
  • Enhanced password complexity, with the minimum length requirement increased from eight to twelve characters. 
  • New guidelines for the management of shared, group, and generic accounts. 
  • Clearly articulated roles and responsibilities for each requirement. 
  • Authenticated Scans 
  • Payment page script integrity 
  • Encryption of sensitive authentication data (SAD) 
  • Prevention of copying and/or relocating of the primary account number (PAN) when using remote-access technologies 
  • Necessity to detect and protect personnel against phishing attacks 
  • Automated mechanisms to perform audit log reviews 
  • Intrusion-detection/prevention techniques to detect, alert on/prevent covert malware communication channels 

The Self-Assessment Questionnaires and the Report on Compliance template have been greatly expanded in levels of detail and doubled in size. Audited organisations are now under a lot more scrutiny to achieve compliance. 

 PCI DSS 4.0 Implementation Timeline 

 The transition period of 31 March 2024 provides organisations with the necessary time to transition to the new version while retaining the option to comply with the previous version, v3.2.1. Additionally, out of the 64 of the new requirements, 51 are future dated due to their complexity and/or cost of implementation. Certain requirements will be considered best practices until 31 March 2025, after which they will become mandatory. 

Impact on Organisations 

For organisations that are already PCI validated, it is crucial to review the changes in PCI DSS 4.0 and begin planning for the transition. This should involve consulting with a qualified security assessor to understand the implications of the new Customized Approach and other changes. 

Summary of Changes 

The PCI Security Standards Council has made substantial updates to the standard, reflecting the need to stay current with the evolving threat landscape and technological advancements. These changes affect a broad spectrum of requirements and will have implications for all entities that handle cardholder data.  

Are you ready for your PCI DSS v4 assessment?  

Integrity360 has got your back during this transition with: 

  • Quick half-day remote workshops to comprehend core changes and plan your strategy accordingly.
  • In-depth Technical Gap Analysis for a solid understanding of the new standard.


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