Frequently Asked Question

How do I reduce the scope of a PCI DSS assessment?

Network segmentation of, or isolating (segmenting), the cardholder data environment from the remainder of an entity’s network is strongly recommended as a method that may reduce the scope of a PCI DSS assessment. At a high level, adequate network segmentation isolates systems that store, process, or transmit cardholder data from those that do not. Network segmentation can be achieved through a number of physical or logical means, such as properly configured internal network firewalls, routers with strong access control lists, or other technologies that restrict access to a particular segment of a network.

An important prerequisite to reduce the scope of the cardholder data environment is a clear understanding of business needs and processes related to the storage, processing or transmission of cardholder data. Restricting cardholder data to as few locations as possible by elimination of unnecessary data, and consolidation of necessary data, may require reengineering of long-standing business practices.

Documenting cardholder data flows via a dataflow diagram helps fully understand all cardholder data flows and ensures that any network segmentation is effective at isolating the cardholder data environment.

The adequacy of a specific implementation of network segmentation is highly variable and dependent upon a number of factors, such as a given network's configuration, the technologies deployed, and other controls that may be implemented. You should be validating the scope of your cardholder data environment as part of your annual PCI DSS assessment process, including validation of any network segmentation.
November 2012
Article Number: 1178