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Don't Get Salted: Why API Inventory is Key to PCI DSS 4.0 Compliance (and How Salt Security Can Help You Achieve It)

Amanda Fitzsimmons
Jun 21, 2024

The Payment Card Industry Data Security Standard (PCI DSS) is the gold standard for protecting cardholder data. With the recent release of version 4.0, the focus on securing APIs has intensified. But what does this mean for your organization, and why shouldn't you take API security with a grain of salt (pun intended)?

Inventory: The Foundation of API Security - Powered by Salt Security's API Discovery

PCI DSS 4.0 emphasizes the importance of secure software development practices throughout the lifecycle (Requirement 6). This includes maintaining an inventory of all custom software components, explicitly mentioning bespoke and custom applications in Requirement 6.3.2. APIs, as a form of custom software, fall under this requirement.

Here's where Salt Security's API Discovery and its suite of PCI DSS Posture Rules come in.

Fig1.  Example of Salt Security’s PCI DSS Posture Rule

Salt’s API Discovery automatically discovers all your APIs, including shadow APIs, providing a clear picture of your entire API landscape. It also analyzes API traffic to understand the data they handle. This comprehensive inventory is the foundation for effective API security management and serves as the springboard for fulfilling several PCI DSS requirements, as we'll explore in the next section. The suite of PCI DSS Posture Rules is always expanding, and Salt will automatically identify any gaps in your API environment’s compliance with the PCI DSS requirements.

Without a complete inventory, you might miss undocumented APIs or those developed outside of your organization's security protocols. And without Salt’s PCI DSS posture rules, ensuring each of your APIs complies with the PCI DSS requirements would be an unwieldy proposition. All of this creates vulnerabilities that could be exploited by malicious actors.

Fulfilling PCI DSS Requirements with Salt Security

Now let's dive deeper into how Salt Security can help you address specific PCI DSS 4.0 requirements related to API security:

Requirement 6.1: Implement a Vulnerability Management Program

Having a complete picture of your APIs is crucial for effective vulnerability management. Salt Security's API Discovery offering goes beyond just identification. It automatically discovers all your APIs, including shadow APIs, and analyzes API traffic to understand the data they handle. With Salt’s suite of PCI DSS posture rules, you are able to easily understand where your APIs fall short of compliance and obtain actionable guidance on how to make them compliant. This comprehensive inventory, combined with the application of Salt’s PCI DSS posture rules suite, allows you to prioritize vulnerability scanning efforts, focusing on critical APIs that process sensitive data.

Salt Security complements this by offering In-Depth API Security Testing. This goes beyond basic vulnerability scans, identifying critical weaknesses and potential exploits specific to APIs. By pinpointing these vulnerabilities, we take you one step past compliance, allowing you to better prioritize remediation efforts and ensure your APIs are patched and protected.

Requirement 6.2: Secure Development Practices

Salt Security doesn't replace your existing secure development practices. However, the Salt API Security Platform integrates seamlessly with your development lifecycle. It provides real-time security feedback throughout the development process, helping developers identify and fix potential security issues early on. This integration ensures that security best practices are followed throughout the API lifecycle, from design and coding to deployment and ongoing maintenance.

Requirement 6.4: Implement Change Control Processes

Maintaining an accurate API inventory is an ongoing process. Salt's API Discovery offering continuously monitors your API landscape, automatically detecting any changes or additions, and the application of the PCI DSS posture rules suite automatically detects whether those changes or additions are in compliance with PCI DSS requirements. This allows you to stay up-to-date on your API inventory and implement proper security reviews and updates before new versions are deployed. This proactive approach ensures change control requirements are met and potential security risks introduced by changes are mitigated.

Requirement 6.5: Conduct Periodic Risk Assessments

A comprehensive API inventory is essential for effective risk assessment. Salt Security's API Discovery offering provides deep insights into your API landscape, including the data each API handles, and lets you know exactly how your APIs fall short of PCI DSS compliance. This critical information feeds directly into your risk assessment process. By understanding the potential impact of a security breach on each API, you can prioritize which APIs require the most stringent security controls.

Requirement 8: Implement Strong Authentication Mechanisms

While Salt Security doesn't directly manage authentication, it integrates with your existing systems to enforce strong authentication mechanisms like multi-factor authentication (MFA) for API access. This additional layer of security, aligned with PCI DSS requirement 8, makes it significantly harder for unauthorized users to gain access to your sensitive data through APIs.

Requirement 4: Protect Cardholder Data at Rest and in Transit

PCI DSS 4.0 mandates encryption of cardholder data at rest and in transit using strong cryptographic protocols like TLS 1.2 or higher (Requirement 4). Salt Security's API Discovery can identify APIs that handle cardholder data, and the PCI DSS posture rules take it one step further, flagging when that cardholder data is being transmitted over an unencrypted channel. This allows you to prioritize encryption efforts for those critical APIs.

Building a Secure API Ecosystem with Salt Security

By implementing a comprehensive API security solution like Salt Security alongside a well-maintained API inventory, you can build a robust API security posture that meets PCI DSS 4.0 requirements and protects your sensitive data. Remember, PCI DSS is a framework, and the specific tools you choose will depend on your organization's needs.

Taking the Next Step

Don't wait until a breach forces you to take action. A secure API ecosystem starts with a clear understanding of what APIs you have and how they interact with your data. Embrace a comprehensive approach to API security with Salt Security as your trusted partner! Our API Security specialists are standing by to help you with your PCI DSS projects. You can contact them here or visit the Salt Security website for more information.

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