Qualified Security Assessor

What Does Qualified Security Assessor Mean?

A qualified security assessor (QSA) is an individual who is authorized to validate the adherence of an organization to the requirements of the Payment Card Industry Data Security Standard (PCI DSS). A QSA conducts the assessments and audits the security and compliance controls of an organization in accordance with the latest guidelines provided by the said standard. For an effective adherence to the PCI DSS, it is often recommended to have the requirements validated by an independent QSA.


Techopedia Explains Qualified Security Assessor

Security consultants and audit professionals are often the recommended candidates for a qualified security assessor program. They can be certified and recertified by attending the training provided by the payment card industry along with passing the certification exam. A QSA undergoing a recertification needs to pursue additional continuing professional education, which can be obtained from other work experiences and training.

A QSA needs to provide merchants with onsite data security assessments, gap analysis, payment card industry consultation and must give advice including remediation services, if needed. A QSA needs to understand the different aspects of an organization’s infrastructure including virtual network segmentation, surrounding physical information technology controls, virtualization-specific controls, etc.

Using a QSA could prove expensive and could be less economical than using internal security resources. However, a third-party validation can help in assessing the key areas and controls that could be missed out and can also provide the necessary diligence needed. A QSA can also help an organization meet all the requirements provided by the payment card industry. In this case, the internal resources of an organization need not be diverted from other projects.


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Margaret Rouse is an award-winning technical writer and teacher known for her ability to explain complex technical subjects to a non-technical, business audience. Over the past twenty years her explanations have appeared on TechTarget websites and she's been cited as an authority in articles by the New York Times, Time Magazine, USA Today, ZDNet, PC Magazine and Discovery Magazine.Margaret's idea of a fun day is helping IT and business professionals learn to speak each other’s highly specialized languages. If you have a suggestion for a new definition or how to improve a technical explanation, please email Margaret or contact her…