How to Know if an MSP is PCI DSS Compliant

Managed service providers (MSPs) provide a valuable service by outsourcing information technology services, but they need to be compliant with the Payment Card Industry Data Security Standard (PCI DSS) – and just because they say they’re PCI DSS compliant doesn’t mean they’re a good fit. Below are our tips to go beyond the PCI DSS logo on an MSP’s website and determine whether they’re truly compliant.

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Protect Your Supply Chain From Security Threats

In today’s increasingly connected environment, businesses rely more on third-party vendors than ever before to help them bring their ideas to life. Those vendors include suppliers, affiliates, contractors and service providers.  Continue reading “Protect Your Supply Chain From Security Threats”

Minimizing Data Risks in 2019

In the world of cyber risk and security, the biggest concerns for chief audit executives (CAEs) in the coming year are risks surrounding data and analytics. According to a Gartner study that surveyed 144 CAEs, Gartner was able to determine the major risks that are facing boards, audit committees and executives in the new year, many of which stem from the growth of digital business models and data usage.

The amount of data being collected and processed at any given moment is increasing rapidly. Studies show that over 2.5 quintillion bytes of data is being created every day – and it’s growing with the inception of the Internet of Things. In fact, 90% of all the data ever created worldwide was generated in just the last two years. With so much data being created in the pursuit of digital business model growth, it comes as no surprise that public and regulatory skepticism and scrutiny is at an all-time high. As a result, CAEs are closely watching the heightened risks around data governance.

Third-Party Risk

The state of modern business and digital initiatives means that organizations rely on third-party vendors. The more partners connected to an organization, the higher the risk due to careless employees or malicious attacks externally and internally. Nearly 70 percent of CAEs report third-party risks as a top concern for their organization.

By having your vendors complete regular security questionnaires and assessments, such as SOC 2 examinations, you can help mitigate risk, increase visibility into third-party operations and be better prepared to combat potential risks.

To manage third-party risk, organizations should develop a robust vendor management program and conduct regular vendor management reviews. Vendor management reviews involve the identification of all vendors, as well as a ranking of the risk that they pose to your organization. This process can help your organization understand when supplemental assessments, like SOC 2 and penetration testing services, can be helpful to better protect your organization. Other ways to combat threats include assigning internal audit teams to investigate third-party data handling regulatory requirements, as well as evaluate third-party contracts and compliance efforts.

Data Governance


The world of data usage and protection has been under scrutiny in recent years thanks to a series of high-profile data breaches and the rise of privacy regulations like the GDPR.

With data creation and usage growing by the day, it is imperative that companies have data governance frameworks to reduce risks and combat security threats. A data governance framework is the model for how data is managed within an organization. The framework aligns policies, requirements, and controls with the needs of users and stakeholders to manage the data within an organization.

Data Privacy

Data privacy remains a top concern for CAEs and end-users, having been highlighted through flaws in data privacy frameworks. To combat this growing problem, a concentrated push is being made by organizations to create policies and procedures to safeguard data and protect companies and consumers. As governments continue to pass stronger data protection laws, it’s imperative to routinely undergo audits, review policies and procedures to ensure that sensitive data is protected and build frameworks with privacy in mind. As we have seen routinely, even companies as expansive as Facebook are not immune to data breaches.

For organizations looking to ensure the privacy of information, SOC 2 Assessments that include the Privacy Trust Service Criterion can exhibit your commitment to the privacy of personal information that is collected, stored, used, transferred, disclosed or destroyed by your organization. ISO 27001 assessments help organizations implement, manage and maintain information security, while ISO 27018 focuses on the protection of personal data in the cloud.

For organizations that handle EU resident data, GDPR assessments can help your organization avoid noncompliance fines, while also assessing your organization’s current data protection and privacy environment and providing a detailed assessment of gaps that require remediation.

Preparing for 2019 with A-LIGN

With years of experience building compliance frameworks for organizations of all sizes, A-LIGN is prepared to help you avoid data and analytics fears. By building a customized compliance roadmap for your business, A-LIGN prepares your organization not only for today’s risks but also provides you with best and next practices to offer a competitive differentiator.

Are you ready to prepare your organization for data and analytics threats?

Contact A-LIGN at 1-888-702-5446 to speak with one of our cybersecurity professionals.

A-LIGN’s Customized GDPR Packages

Experience customized solutions from A-LIGN with General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) packages designed to assist you on your path to becoming GDPR compliant. Continue reading “A-LIGN’s Customized GDPR Packages”

More Passwords, More Problems: A Look into Biometric Authentication

What’s your password? Studies show that you likely use more than 15 different passwords, but more than half of you admit to using a weak password. So how do companies fare with inconsistent password usage and standardization? Even companies with incredible security practices can become vulnerable due to a forgetful employee who leaves their password on a sticky note under their mouse pad, or someone using the incredibly hard to crack password “password”. Hackers are becoming more adept, and as a result, companies must improve their digital security.

While technology has continued to improve, things like the traditional QWERTY keyboard have not changed in decades. Passwords are becoming clunky, laborious things that must be carried in the memory of the user and while two-factor authentication assist in ease, it is typically just a different combination of characters that takes up more time.

We get questions from our clients all of the time: How can we improve our own security? In light of data breaches at eBay (145 million users), Adobe (36 million users), JP Morgan Chase (76 million users), and many, many others – passwords have been at the forefront of the security discussion. Let’s take a moment to look at the future of password and identity protection, and what implications that may have on security.

The Pros and Cons of Biometric Identification

Fingerprint Biometrics

Fingerprint biometrics have gained incredible popularity since Apple unleashed it on the iPhone-using masses (94 million people use an iPhone), but they aren’t the only ones using the technology. Android mobile devices have also adopted the technology, and it is anticipated that approximately 50% of all mobile devices will move towards this technology by 2019. But how secure is the convenient, unforgettable, unduplicatable security? Maybe not as secure as you’d think.
With some technology companies leaving fingerprint data unencrypted, hackers are suddenly able to access print images remotely at a large scale. Phone hackers aside, what happens if your fingerprint data at a government agency is breached and suddenly anyone has access to your prints? You can’t exactly change your prints once they have been compromised, and experts have suggested that a simply high resolution photo of your fingers could be enough to gain entry to fingerprint-protected devices.

Facial Recognition

If we recognize each other through our faces, why can’t our technology learn to do it as well? Some credit card companies were even considering the complete removal of credit cards and moving wholly to facial recognition software.

However easy this technology would make our lives, it is unfortunately one of the least reliable and efficient technologies available at this time for personal identification purposes. A simple tilt in the head angle can throw off the technology, as can sunglasses, a change in hair, items obscuring the face and skin color, to name a few. Outside of the current technological hurdles, hackers are able to trick facial recognition through use of high-quality photographs, similar looking people and the hacking of the entire system.

Iris Scans

In every science fiction movie, there’s a retina scan that unlocks a door. But it may not be just science fiction anymore. Citibank is currently working with partners EyeLock LLC and Diebold in order to develop a card-less, screen-less, self-service ATM. All transactions occur on the mobile phone using near field communication or QR code technology, while the customer is authenticated using the EyeLock iris sensor.


In a similar vein, Microsoft recently released two phones featuring iris scanning authentication. But what are the risks of the new technology? The systems are often fooled by a high-quality image of the eye, making it an easy target for hackers. Until live-tissue verification exists for all of the technologies previously mentioned, it will continue to be easily tricked by hackers with replicated imagery.

Voice Biometrics

“Xbox, on.”

Voice command opens up a hands-free universe where logging into anything is as easy as a few simple words. One of the benefits is that authentication over the phone allows for remote authentication. But how long until a cybercriminal gets you on the phone, talking, to remotely unlock your account for them without your knowledge?

Voice command has other limitations. For example, users may not want to share their actions with those on the bus or in a quiet office. Or, consider struggling to log into an account at a loud rock show. In addition, vocal recordings are able to fool some of the more basic voice biometrics machines.

Where do we go from here?

The options aren’t all bad, but all pose their own risks. But what if you could combine any or all of those authentication factors? Combining factors allows for certain identifiers to be used in certain situations. For example, fingerprint and voice authentication when unlocking your vehicle – use fingerprint when you have your hands free and voice when you have your hands full.

The ability to pick factors that work for your lifestyle and the potential risk offers a glut of opportunity for information security experts to improve data security. Because we would all be better off in a world where the easy account reset questions no longer exist.