The PCI SSC considered many things when drafting Version 3.0 of the PCI DSS and PA DSS standards including:

  • What will improve payment security?
  • Global applicability and local market concerns
  • Appropriate sunset dates for other standards or requirements
  • Cost/benefit of changes to infrastructure
  • Cumulative impact of any changes

The nature of the changes reflects the growing maturity of the payment security industry since the Council’s formation in 2006, and the strength of the PCI Standards as a framework for protecting cardholder data. Cardholder data continues to be a target for criminals.

Lack of education and awareness around payment security and poor implementation and maintenance of the PCI Standards leads to many of the security breaches happening today.

The updates address these challenges by building in additional guidance and clarification on the intent of the requirements and ways to meet them. Additionally, the changes in PCI DSS and PA-DSS 3.0 focus on some of the most frequently seen threats and risks that precipitate incidents of cardholder-data compromise. The updated standards will help organizations not by making the requirements more prescriptive, but by adding more flexibility and guidance for integrating card security into their business-as-usual activities. At the same time, the changes will provide increased stringency for validating that these controls have been implemented properly, with more rigorous and specific testing procedures that clarify the level of validation the assessor is expected to perform. Overall, the changes are designed to give organizations a strong but flexible security architecture with principles that can be applied to their unique technology, payment, and business environments.

Version 3.0 updates of PCI DSS and PA-DSS will:

  • Provide stronger focus on some of the greater risk areas in the threat environment
  • Provide increased clarity on PCI DSS & PA-DSS requirements
  • Build greater understanding on the intent of the requirements and how to apply them
  • Improve flexibility for all entities implementing, assessing, and building to the Standards
  • Drive more consistency among assessors
  • Help manage evolving risks / threats
  • Align with changes in industry best practices
  • Clarify scoping and reporting
  • Eliminate redundant sub-requirements and consolidate documentation

Change Drivers

The PCI Standards are updated based on feedback from the industry, per the standards development lifecycle as well as in response to current market needs. Common challenge areas and drivers for change include:

  • Lack of education and awareness
  • Weak passwords, authentication
  • Third-party security challenges
  • Slow self-detection, malware
  • Inconsistency in assessments

Key Themes

Changes planned for Version 3.0 are designed to help organizations take a proactive approach to protect cardholder data that focuses on security, not compliance, and makes PCI DSS a business-as-usual practice. Key themes emphasized throughout Version 3.0 include:

Education and awareness

Lack of education and awareness around payment security, coupled with poor implementation and maintenance of the PCI Standards, gives rise to many of the security breaches happening today. Updates to the standards are geared towards helping organizations better understand the intent of requirements and how to properly implement and maintain controls across their business. Changes to PCI DSS and PA-DSS will help drive education and build awareness internally and with business partners and customers.

Increased flexibility

Changes in PCI DSS and PA-DSS 3.0 focus on some of the most frequently seen risks that lead to incidents of cardholder data compromise, such as weak passwords and authentication methods, malware, and poor self-detection, providing added flexibility on ways to meet the requirements. This will enable organizations to take a more customized approach to addressing and mitigating common risks and problem areas. At the same time, more rigorous testing procedures for validating proper implementation of requirements will help organizations drive and maintain controls across their business.

Security as a shared responsibility

Securing cardholder data is a shared responsibility. Today’s payment environment has become ever more complex, creating multiple points of access to cardholder data. Changes introduced with PCI DSS and PA-DSS focus on helping organizations understand their entities’ PCI DSS responsibilities when working with different business partners to ensure cardholder data security.

Emerging Technologies

PCI Standards provide a strong framework for protecting payment card data, regardless of the technology or platform used to accept or process it. The PCI DSS and PA-DSS are constructed in a way that their principles can be applied to various environments where cardholder data is processed, stored, or transmitted—such as e-commerce, mobile acceptance, or cloud computing. Specific guidance on the use of emerging technologies and how PCI Standards apply are currently addressed via information supplements produced by PCI Special Interest Groups, and separate guidance documents, such as Mobile Payment Acceptance Security Guidelines for Merchants. As the mobile environment develops, the Council will continue to work with industry stakeholders on developing relevant guidance and/or requirements as appropriate. Technologies such as point-to-point encryption and tokenization are being addressed as separate initiatives. For more information, please visit the PCI SSC website.

Change Highlights. Types of changes to the Standards are categorized as follows:

  • Clarification – Clarifies intent of requirement. Ensures that concise wording in the standard portrays the desired intent of requirements.
  • Additional Guidance – Explanation, definition, and/or instruction to increase understanding or provide further information or guidance on a particular topic.
  • Evolving Requirement – Changes to ensure that the Standards are up to date with emerging threats and changes in the market.

Specific PCI Data Security Standard (PCI DSS) 3.0 changes 


PCI DSS Update

Purpose / Need Addressed


Have a current diagram that shows cardholder data flows.

To clarify that documented cardholder data flows are an important   component of network diagrams.


Maintain an inventory of system components in scope for PCI DSS.

To support effective scoping practices.


Evaluate evolving malware threats for systems not commonly affected by   malware.

To promote ongoing awareness and due diligence to protect systems from   malware.


Update list of common vulnerabilities in alignment with OWASP, NIST,   SANS, etc., for inclusion in secure coding practices.

To keep current with emerging threats.


Security considerations for authentication mechanisms such as physical   security tokens, smart cards, and certificates.

To address feedback that requirements for securing authentication   methods other than passwords need to be included.


Protect POS terminals and devices from tampering or substitution.



Implement a methodology for penetration testing, and perform   penetration tests to verify that the segmentation methods are operational and   effective.

To address requests for more details for penetration tests, and for   more stringent scoping verification.


Maintain information about which PCI DSS requirements are managed by   service providers and which are managed by the entity.  Service providers to acknowledge   responsibility for maintaining applicable PCI DSS requirements.

To address feedback from the Third Party Security Assurance SIG.



Clarified that sensitive authentication data must not be stored after   authorization even if PAN is not present.

To ensure better understanding of protection of sensitive   authentication data.


Added guidance for implementing security into business-as-usual (BAU)   activities and best practices for maintaining on-going PCI DSS compliance.

To address compromises where the organization had been PCI DSS   compliant but did not maintain that status. Recommendations focus on helping   organizations take a proactive approach to protect cardholder data that   focuses on security, not compliance, and makes PCI DSS a business-as-usual   practice.


Added guidance for all requirements with content from the former   Navigating PCI DSS Guide.

To assist understanding of security objectives and intent of each   requirement.


ROC reporting section relocated to a separate reporting template.

To simplify and streamline the reporting process.


Enhanced testing procedures to clarify the level of validation   expected for each requirement.

To put more emphasis on the quality and consistency of assessments.


Incorporate security policy/procedure requirements into each   requirement (replaces former 12.1.1 and 12.2).

To address feedback that policy topics should more closely align with   the related technical PCI DSS requirement.


Clarified that changing default passwords is required for   application/service accounts as well as user accounts.

To address gaps in basic password security practices that are leading   to compromises.


Provided flexibility with more options for secure storage of   cryptographic keys, and clarified principles of split knowledge and dual   control.

To clarify common misunderstandings about key management.


Provided increased flexibility in password strength and complexity to   allow for variations that are equivalent. Revised password policies to   include guidance for users on choosing strong passwords, protecting their   credentials, and changing passwords upon suspicion of compromise.

To address feedback on improving password security. Changes focus on   increased flexibility and user guidance rather than new requirements.


Clarified the intent and scope of daily log reviews.

To help entities focus log-review efforts on identifying suspicious   activity and allow flexibility for review of less-critical logs events, as   defined by the entity’s

PCI Payment Application Data Security Standard (PA-DSS) 3.0 changes 


PCI DSS Update

Purpose / Need Addressed


Enhanced requirements for system development processes including   periodic security reviews, verifying integrity of source code, a versioning   methodology, use of application threat-modeling techniques, and a formal   authorization process before final release.

To provide greater assurance regarding PA-DSS vendor development   practices. This will allow for simplified processes for changes to PCI-listed   applications and increased flexibility for vendors.


For inclusion in secure coding practices, update list of common   vulnerabilities in alignment with OWASP, NIST, SANS, etc.

To keep current with emerging threats.


New requirement for application vendor to provide release notes for   all updates.

To help merchants more easily determine whether their application   version is on the PA-DSS list.


New requirement to focus on training of integrators/resellers   (formerly in Requirement 13) and vendor personnel.

To emphasize importance of training for integrator/reseller and vendor   personnel.


Clarify that PA-DSS applications are in scope for an organization’s   PCI DSS assessment.

To address common misconception that use of a PA-DSS application   guarantees PCI DSS compliance.


Added guidance for all requirements.

To assist understanding of security objectives and intent of each   requirement.


Relocated ROV reporting section to a separate reporting template.

To simplify and streamline reporting process.


Relocated information on PA-DSS eligibility and roles and   responsibilities to the PA-DSS Program Guide.

To provide more clarity by removing repetitive information.


Updated testing procedures for verifying contents of PA-DSS   Implementation Guides.

To put more emphasis on quality Implementation Guides.


Removed requirement regarding use of full disk encryption solutions.

To address confusion on inclusion of this requirement in PA-DSS.


Enhanced requirements to ensure that changing of default passwords is   enforced by the application and appropriately validated.

To address feedback that unchanged default passwords are a common   cause of merchant compromises.


Updated requirement to require use of a one-way cryptographic   algorithm with an input variable to render passwords unreadable.

To address feedback that passwords need to be stored and transmitted   more securely.


Relocated two requirements from Requirement 5 and 10 to align them   with other requirements that facilitate a secure PCI DSS environment.

To clarify intent of the requirements for improved understanding.


Clarified the requirement for two-factor authentication applies to   network access originating outside the customer’s network.

To improve understanding of when two-factor authentication is   applicable.


Refocused requirement solely on the Implementation Guide, and removed   requirements for training of integrators/resellers to new Requirement 14.

To put more emphasis on quality Implementation Guides.