If you’re responsible for storing sensitive data, you’re more than likely using a data vault or the vaulting services of a third party to protect it. A data vault is a secure database consisting of a pair of linked tables used for warehousing information. Typically the data remains in the vault until it needs to be retrieved to make a payment, identify an individual, or serve a variety of other purposes. Once the retrieved data has fulfilled its function, it can then be returned to the vault for further secure storage.
In the instance of tokenization, data vaults are often referred to as token vaults, and they can be located either on-premise or in the cloud. TokenEx’s preferred method of vaulting is cloud-based due to its lower overhead, fewer access points, and smaller attack surface. Vaulted tokenization utilizes a vault to store a mapping between the tokenized sensitive data—such as a credit card number—and the corresponding token. The token is then returned to the customer to be stored as a placeholder in its internal system until the original, sensitive data is needed.
TokenEx’s vaults are housed in our secure data center environments across the United States and Europe. Each facility is fully redundant, meaning data is continually synced between facilities to ensure data availability, and we require each center to receive annual audits by an independent third party.
Additionally, our vaulted tokenization enables you to secure any data element, supports batch tokenization, significantly reduces the scope of PCI DSS compliance, and offers the ability to de-identify PII, PHI, and personal data.
For the purpose of this blog, we’ll be looking at how credit card vaults store credit card information and why it’s useful to deploy tokenization and cloud-based storage for the protection of sensitive cardholder data.
Benefits of Credit Card Vaulting
Credit card vaults store your customers’ credit card data in a secure database, separate from your payment provider until it needs to be retrieved to make a payment, identify an individual, etc. Here’s a rundown of nine reasons how you can benefit from a credit card vault.
1. Credit card vaults securely store cardholder data.
This one is pretty straightforward. The primary reason—other than compliance—why an organization would want to store payment card information outside of its environment is to better secure that data. Utilizing the services of a tokenization provider or other third-party security expert can improve the security of your credit card data and reduce the risk of breaches and data theft.
2. Removing data from your environment and storing it in credit card vaults reduces the scope of PCI compliance.
This is the other common reason for pursuing credit card vaults as a technology for data storage. The PCI DSS states that storing sensitive payment card information within an organization’s internal systems is a non-compliant practice, even if that data is encrypted. To truly maximize security and scope reduction—and simplify compliance as a result—we recommend tokenizing your cardholder data and storing it in a cloud-based credit card vault.
3. Tokenized credit card vaults replace credit card data with placeholder tokens that retain much of the original data’s utility.
Security is often unaccommodating of, if not completely at odds with, maintaining business-as-usual processes. But by employing cloud tokenization in the form of a credit card vault, your business operations, and continuity can persist with minimal disruption thanks to format-preserving token schemes.
4. Cloud storage via a credit card vault pushes your organization in the direction of digital transformation.
It’s a popular term to throw around these days, but digital transformation should be taken seriously on its own merits. And when approaching this intimidating process from the perspective of data security, utilizing tokenization and cloud-based credit card vaults can fuel your organization’s movement toward modernization by allowing your organization to stay nimble without sacrificing security.
5. Storing credit card data in a credit card vault allows you to always know where your data is kept.
One of the most important and difficult steps of ensuring your credit card data is secure and your environment is compliant is the first one: establishing where your sensitive data resides. By storing your cardholder data in a cloud-based credit card vault, you’re centralizing your collection of data in a secure environment that simplifies security and meets many regulatory compliance obligations.
6. Using a credit card vault service can relieve you of the responsibility of storing and safeguarding sensitive credit card data.
Although it’s impossible to completely remove an organization from the scope of PCI compliance, by using a credit card vault to store and safeguard sensitive data, you can potentially reduce your compliance obligations to an SAQ-A, which limits your responsibility to the people, processes, and technology portion of the PCI DSS requirements. This relieves you of much of the heavy lifting of PCI compliance and shifts the majority of that burden to a highly specialized security expert.
7. Using a cloud-based vault costs less than on-premise storage.
In addition to better securing data and more easily meeting the compliance requirements of storing credit cards and other payment information, using a cloud-based credit card vault is more affordable than its on-premise counterpart. Cloud credit card vaults eliminate the need for the expensive hardware, software, and internal controls required to reduce PCI scope via network segmentation.
8. Credit card vaults have virtually constant, uninterrupted uptime.
Credit card vaults such as those used by TokenEx are fully redundant, meaning data is continually synced between facilities to ensure data availability. The vaults are also housed in secure data-center environments across the United States and Europe, resulting in virtually no latency, no matter where your organization is located.
9. Trusted credit card vaults are regularly audited and assessed to ensure security and compliance.
Vaults such as those offered by TokenEx continuously undergo audits and assessments from independent third-party evaluators and are subjected to multiple regulatory and compliance frameworks. This results in a hardened, tested infrastructure that protects your most sensitive data (likely better than most organizations could build themselves) while reducing risk and ensuring compliance obligations are met.