Cardholder Data Environment (CDE) / PCI DSS
The term Cardholder Data Environment (CDE) in context to the Payment Card Industry Data Security Standard (PCI DSS), refers to the computer environment where the cardholder data is stored, processed, or transmitted, and any networks or devices that directly connect and/or impact the security of that environment.
Cardholder data includes any personally identifiable data associated with a cardholder. This could include account numbers, card expiration dates, and service codes, along with other data types.
The CDE includes the following components:
System Components: This includes any network devices, servers, computing devices, and applications within the environment that are involved in storing, transmitting, or processing cardholder data.
Networks: Both wired and wireless networks that are involved in cardholder data transmission fall within the CDE. This includes all network devices such as firewalls, switches, routers, and wireless access points.
Virtual Components: Any virtual systems or applications like virtual machines, virtual switches/routers, virtual appliances, virtual applications/desktops, and hypervisors that are involved with cardholder data.
Processes and Procedures: Any processes or procedures that are involved in handling cardholder data are considered part of the CDE. This includes business processes, system processes, as well as operational procedures.
People: The individuals who manage, use, or otherwise access the systems that contain cardholder data are part of the CDE.
The primary goal of defining and securing the CDE is to protect cardholder data from unauthorized access. PCI DSS compliance requires a thorough understanding of the CDE, effective segmentation to isolate it from other systems where possible, and application of stringent security controls within the CDE to prevent data breaches.