Internal Security Assessor

What is an Internal Security Assessor?

An Internal Security Assessor (ISA) is an individual within an organization who is certified by the Payment Card Industry Security Standards Council (PCI SSC) to assess and validate the organization’s compliance with the Payment Card Industry Data Security Standard (PCI DSS). The PCI DSS is a set of security requirements designed to protect cardholder data and ensure the secure handling of payment transactions.

The role of an Internal Security Assessor is to conduct internal assessments and validate the organization’s adherence to the PCI DSS requirements. Unlike external Qualified Security Assessors (QSAs) who are independent third-party entities, individuals with Internal Security Assessor certifications are employees of the organization they assess. This allows organizations to have an ongoing internal resource for maintaining and validating PCI DSS compliance.

To become an PCI certified Internal Security Assessor, an individual must undergo rigorous training and pass an examination provided by the PCI SSC. This training covers various aspects of the PCI DSS and equips the ISA with the knowledge and skills required to assess and validate compliance within their organization.

Responsibilities of an Internal Security Assessor

  • Conducting internal PCI DSS assessments: The ISA is responsible for evaluating the organization’s compliance with the PCI DSS requirements. This involves reviewing policies, procedures, network configurations, security controls, and other relevant documentation. The ISA performs assessments to identify gaps and non-compliance areas, providing recommendations for remediation.
  • Remediation guidance: Once non-compliance areas are identified, the ISA provides guidance and recommendations for remediating the issues. This may involve suggesting changes to policies, implementing additional security controls, or improving existing processes to meet the PCI DSS requirements.
  • Internal stakeholder education: ISAs play a crucial role in educating internal stakeholders about the importance of PCI DSS compliance and the associated security measures. They provide training and awareness sessions to employees, ensuring they understand their responsibilities and the potential risks involved in handling cardholder data.
  • Documentation and reporting: ISAs are responsible for maintaining accurate documentation of the assessment process, findings, and remediation efforts. They prepare comprehensive reports that outline the organization’s compliance status. These reports are shared with management, internal audit teams, and external auditors as required.
  • Stay up-to-date with PCI DSS: ISAs must keep themselves updated with the latest changes, updates, and interpretations of the PCI DSS. They participate in ongoing training and maintain a thorough understanding of the evolving security landscape to ensure their assessments align with the current requirements.

It’s important to note that while ISAs play a critical role in assessing and validating compliance, their assessments are subject to review and validation by external QSAs during the formal PCI DSS compliance assessment process. External QSAs provide an independent assessment to ensure the organization’s compliance with the PCI DSS.


Why should organizations have ISAs?

Organizations benefit from having ISAs because they provide a dedicated personnel for maintaining and validating compliance throughout the year. This helps to identify and address compliance gaps promptly, reducing the risk of data breaches and potential penalties associated with non-compliance.

In summary, an Internal Security Assessor is a certified professional within an organization responsible for conducting internal PCI DSS assessments, validating compliance, providing remediation guidance, and ensuring ongoing adherence to the PCI DSS requirements. They play a crucial role in maintaining a secure environment for handling payment card data and promoting a culture of compliance within the organization.