Associate QSA

Associate QSA – qualifying as a QSA

SRC offers mentoring programme for future Security Evaluators

The QSA accreditation – the previous, unstructured path to becoming a highly qualified Security Evaluator

Extensive experience is required to audit environments in which payment card data is accepted and/or processed for compliance with the PCI DSS security standard. To date, there has been no standardised way of fulfilling the relevant prerequisites for admission as a PCI DSS assessor (Qualified Security Assessor, QSA) which are comprehensive professional experience, PCI DSS-specific training and testing as well as at least two other accreditations in the field of information security and IT auditing.

Associate QSA – the accompanied path to QSA

With the new Associate QSA programme of the Payment Card Industry Security Standards Council (PCI SSC), an opportunity has now been defined through which new talents with a basic level of professional experience can advance towards QSA approval.

Associate QSA will be accompanied by an experienced QSA mentor. The development and increasing audit experience of the Associate QSA are regularly reflected and documented. In this way, it is monitored and ensured that the employee has comprehensive experience in all relevant areas until he or she obtains QSA accreditation.

SRC provides training

The SRC team is known for not considering test standards as checklists to be processed, but for deriving their application from complex environments and for supporting the customer in the implementation and interpretation as practically as possible. This requires comprehensive expertise and experience in combination with a constant exchange with other experts.

SRC therefore welcomes the definition of a step-by-step procedure for the training and support of Associate QSA, which contributes to the development of an appropriate qualification. SRC has thus registered as an Associate QSA company and has already approved the first employee as an Associate QSA. In this way, the quality of the audits in the constantly changing payment transaction environments is to be guaranteed also in the future.


SRC receives accreditation for Conformity Assessment Body (KBS) according to ISO 17065

Last month, the German Accreditation Body (DAkkS) granted SRC Security Research & Consulting GmbH accreditation for its Confomity Assessment Body (KBS) according to ISO 17065.

This accreditation applies to the confomity assessment of (qualified) trust service providers who wish to have trust services qualified in accordance with the requirements of Regulation (EU) No. 910/2014 (eIDAS).

The eIDAS Regulation contains binding Europe-wide regulations in the fields of “Electronic Identification” and “Electronic Trust Services”. The Regulation creates a uniform framework for the cross-border use of electronic means of identification and trust services.

As an EU regulation, it is directly applicable law in all 28 EU member states as well as in the European Economic Area.

Smart Metering

Chances & Risks of Smart Metering

SRC’s contribution to the Expert Roundtable on the security perspective for Smart Metering

On August 22, 2018 Dr. Deniz Ulucay and Dr. Jens Oberender, Senior Consultant at SRC, took part in the Expert Roundtable in Cologne. It was organised by eco – Verband der Internetwirtschaft and dealt with the topic “Smart Energy: Not without my Smart Meter?”

The meeting was attended by representatives of companies responsible for implementing the Energy Ordinance. Suppliers for Smart Meter Gateways were represented as well as network operators and startups, for example in the field of visualisation. In this context, Dr. Oberender made an impulse contribution. Based on the experience of the evaluation body in evaluating security modules and Smart Meter Gateways, the Senior Consultant describes opportunities and risks in Smart Metering. Using a risk-based approach, he described the previous activities of the standardisers and the business opportunities to be exploited, but also their risks.

The complete presentation can be downloaded here as PDF. If you have any further questions on this topic, please do not hesitate to contact us.

Smart Energy

SRC Smart Energy Expert at Roundtable in Cologne

On Wednesday, 22 August 2018, an expert roundtable will take place in Cologne. Organised by eco – Verband der Internetwirtschaft, the expert roundtables are characterised above all by high expertise, multidisciplinary perspectives and high discussion intensity.

In August the motto of the event is “Smart Energy: Not without my “Smart Meter?” and among other things it will deepen the previous roundtable on the topic “Smart Home”. For many years people have been talking about smart metering, but the actual development seems to be far behind the plans and prognoses of that time. New framework conditions, new approaches and new success factors will now be discussed in the panel of experts to be held on 22 August 2018.

Dr. Jens Oberender, Senior Consultant at SRC, will discuss in an oral contribution on the thematic field “Security and perspectives of the Smart Meter” if Smart Meters and their environment can be considered as secure. Dr. Oberender draws on his many years of experience in consulting projects relating to the certification of Smart Meter Gateways.

Cloud Security

SRC expands competencies in Cloud Security

Cloud computing sets high standards for IT security

Cloud computing has long since become the norm, and more and more companies are outsourcing parts of their infrastructures and services to the cloud in order to be able to act more flexibly.

However, the security challenges in the cloud go beyond traditional IT security requirements. For example, it must be technically guaranteed that only authorised persons have access to the sensitive data. Special care must be taken to secure the cloud management interface. The biggest organisational challenge is the distribution of security responsibilities among several parties. This is exactly what must also be taken into account when drafting contracts and fulfilling compliance requirements.

Incorrect configuration of cloud accounts – billions of data freely accessible in the Web

A recent incident also shows how sensitive this issue is. Due to faulty configurations of Amazon Cloud Simple Storage Services (Amazon S3) storage units and web servers, a number of confidential documents ended up freely accessible to everyone on the net. These included payrolls, confidential patent applications and secret construction plans for products in the development process. According to the report of the security company “Digital Shadows”, about 1.5 billion data have landed on the net. Especially confidential data, such as internal reports, photos of department stores or data centers or lists of security holes in internal company software, can be misused by attackers for hacker attacks on the company or for theft.

SRC employees acquire Certificate of Cloud Security Knowledge

SRC accompanies its customers in these challenges with competence. For this purpose, several employees have acquired the Certificate of Cloud Security Knowledge (CCSK) from the Cloud Security Alliance.

The CCSK is the first Cloud Security Certificate offered by the world’s leading cloud security provider, the Cloud Security Alliance. The Cloud Security Alliance is a non-profit organisation and develops – in cooperation with ENISA – the vendor-independent standard for cloud security. By acquiring the certificate, SRC employees gained the necessary breadth and depth of knowledge to implement holistic cloud security programmes to protect sensitive information according to globally recognised standards.

International Common Criteria Conference

SRC gives lecture on JTEMS at the International Common Criteria Conference in Amsterdam

From 30 October to 1 November, the 17th International Common Criteria Conference will take place in Amsterdam. The International Common Criteria Conference is presented with the support of the Common Criteria User Forum (CCUF). The CCUF provides a voice and communication channel between the CC community and the organising committees of the Common Criteria, CCRA member organisations (national programmes) and policy makers.

SRC will also actively participate in this year’s conference. In a presentation by our expert Sven-Martin Hühne on the topic “JTEMS – a Payment Scheme Independent Framework for POI Terminal specific Security Evaluations based on Common Criteria” the JTEMS Framework is presented and the current “state of affairs” is explained. The presentation deals with the advantages of a CC-based and Payment Scheme independent evaluation and certification procedure for POI terminals. The framework is a living example of the active use of the CC method by interested parties from the private sector (German banking industry and UK Finance or Common.SECC). The possibility of embedding the JTEMS framework in current discussions of the EU Commission for a “European Security Certification Scheme” will also be discussed.

In the panel discussion “The Why and How of Using CC in Private Schemes”, Regine Quentmeier discusses these aspects from the point of view of users from the European banking industry in an exchange with representatives of other economic sectors.


SRC provides students with insight into exciting projects as part of CSCUBS 2018

Review of the 5th Computer Science Conference for University of Bonn Students

The CSCUBS 2018 took place on May 16th in the premises of the University of Bonn and was organised by PhD and MSc students with the aim of promoting research in computer science and scientific exchange among students. The participation of researchers and practitioners was also encouraged. The students also had the opportunity to submit their own contributions describing new research or development work in connection with computer science. This also included university projects, dissertations and results of other professional or leisure activities. In addition to the sponsoring companies, the students themselves gave lectures.

SRC staff provides students with insight into exciting projects

Max Hettrich of SRC also reported on the company’s fields of activity in a lecture. The focus was on payment evolving. The aim here is to put the “Girocard into the mobile phone”. What is particularly interesting here is what the security evaluation for payment cards looks like so far and what new challenges will now arise for mobile payment in the future. Reverse engineering of the applications used will play a central role in the security evaluation of smartphone-based solutions. The examiner takes on the role of an attacker and tries to find ways to compromise the payment application. This is a central building block for evaluating the effectiveness of the implemented protection mechanisms. Where in the past the SRC evaluation facility in particular evaluated the security of payment cards, in future the department for penetration testing will also contribute its expertise in the evaluation of mobile solutions.

In addition, the lecture also included more general topics, such as the fields of activity and working atmosphere of the SRC. The core business of payment cards has developed over the many years that SRC has been in existence into a multitude of other business areas. It was also discussed what makes SRC as an employer special and what qualities SRC offers.

Conclusion and impressions from the view of the SRC

“The high proportion of international students, the active participation in the event and the consistently independent organisation of the CSCUBS made a lasting impression on us,” said Jochen Schumacher of SRC. The BSI, BC Technologies and SRC accompanied the CSCUBS 2018 with presentations. We were particularly pleased that SRC’s practical contribution provided material for a productive discussion. The security of modern payment transactions is a topic that also moves students. This was demonstrated by the many meaningful discussions in the plenum and the personal exchange at SRC’s specially set up stand. CSCUBS 2018 was an extremely successful and informative event. SRC is looking forward to the new edition in 2019.

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From Quantum Physicist to Security Analyst at SRC – An Employee Interview

The following interview with Dr. Max Hettrich allows a look behind the scenes of SRC. We at SRC always have an open ear for our employees and are happy that we were able to ask Max about his career and his work at SRC.

Hey, Max, let’s just start right away. What education do you have?

I’m a physicist. After my studies I first worked in academic research, namely in experimental quantum optics. It was all about lasers, vacuum chambers, and quantum physics. But also computer simulations and digital measurement technology. The IT topic has always been there, even if not in the first place.

How did you become aware of SRC and the job advertisement and why did you apply to SRC?

I became aware of SRC through a colleague at that time, who again knew an employee at SRC. After I learned that physicists are very welcome at SRC and that I have always been interested in IT security topics, my curiosity was aroused.

How long have you been with SRC?

I joined SRC in July 2017, less than a year ago.

How did your training go?

Very carefully considered and structured. Those responsible have really thought carefully about the projects to be considered. I always had enough freedom to find out which topics I liked most.

Which topics are you currently working on?

On the one hand, I deal with many compliance issues in the IT security environment, and on the other hand with reverse engineering of software for mobile devices in order to assess their security against various attack scenarios. These are two quite different subject areas, but they complement each other perfectly.

What are your main tasks and activities in your daily work routine?

Compliance projects are always about analysing a customer’s system and assessing if it meets regulatory requirements. Since no two systems are alike, it never gets boring.

The goal of reverse engineering is to understand the function of software and to extract any hidden assets without having access to the source code. This requires, for example, reading and analysing native code or debugging and instrumenting running programmes.

What does your typical working day look like? Do you travel a lot?

Mostly I work in my office in the SRC office in Wiesbaden. I am, atypical for a consulting firm, rather little on travel, since most work can be done simply best if I am in direct contact with my colleagues on site.

What do you particularly like about SRC?

I find the rather flat hierarchy particularly positive, and great freedom with regard to the selection of fields of activity.

And how do you feel about the working atmosphere at SRC?

I find the atmosphere here extremely pleasant. The fact that SRC is a rather small company with about 120 employees allows a rather informal and direct communication among each other. I believe that many conflicts do not arise as a result.

Keyword Work-Life-Balance: How can work at SRC be reconciled with your private life?

This really works out great! Our working hours at SRC are flexible, overtime hours are always logged and can be compensated later.

What do you think applicants need to bring with them in order to be successful at SRC?

I think the most important thing is a pronounced analytical thinking, and strong self-initiative. If you already have experience in one of SRC’s fields of activity, the better. But my impression is that generalists are also welcome at the SRC. You then have the opportunity to acquire the necessary specialist knowledge on more closely defined topics as required.

One last question: What would you suggest to potential applicants?

Don’t be shy! You can easily find out whether you like SRC’s fields of activity if you have a look at our website and our career portal. If this is the case: Just send us your application!

Allianz für Cybersicherheit

SRC actively supports long-term partnership with the Alliance for Cyber Security

Conducting a free Web Application Security Scan

SRC has been a partner of the Alliance for Cyber Security for many years. As an active support of this partnership, SRC offered a free Web Application Security Scan for a maximum of five members of the alliance in 2018.

Worth knowing about the Web Application Security Scans

Web application security scans aim to identify errors in the architecture and configuration of the examined Web application. Such vulnerabilities could be exploited, for example to change the content of the page (XSS, Cross Site Scripting). Contents of the database could also be downloaded or administrative rights acquired. If a system is compromised in this way, it could be used for further attacks towards its own internal infrastructure.

Unlike fully automated Web Application Security Scans, SRC also checks pages that are only displayed to the user after registration or login. With fully automated scans without consideration of authentication processes such vulnerabilities cannot be uncovered. However, this is exactly what the Web Application Security Scan allows and thus offers a more comprehensive scan result.

The scans are performed “non-destructive” and “non-instrusive”. This means that vulnerabilities are identified. As with penetration tests, for example, this is not an attempt to exploit the vulnerabilities that have been discovered. Scanning is carried out in close consultation with the participant.

Great demand from members of the Alliance

The Web Application Security Scans offered by SRC were met with great demand among the members of the Alliance. For this reason, the five scans offered are already out of stock. A report about the execution of the scans is soon to be found in our blog. Further details can also be found on the Alliance for Cyber Security website.

Critical Day

Critical Day 2018 | Knowledge and experience in a lively exchange

The Critical Day

On 25 April 2018 the first Critical Day took place at the SRC Conference Centre. This was the premiere of a series of events that offers a top-class platform for exchange. This is primarily aimed at representatives of companies that operate a critical infrastructure (KRITIS). The Critical Day serves above all to establish personal contacts and to exchange experiences and best practices on IT and physical security of critical infrastructures.

The Schedule

After the arrival of the first participants, a lively exchange on the topics began. At the start of the Critical Day, the fully booked hall documented the participants’ need for information.

Top-class speakers gave an overview of the topic KRITIS. Isabel Münch, Head of CK3 and representative of the Federal Office for Information Security (BSI), explained the procedures and processes in the supervisory authority. Randolf Skerka, Head of SRC and responsible for the topic of auditing according to §8a (3) BSIG, described the first experiences from the perspective of the auditing body. The Klinikum Lünen was the first to provide proof of the audit according to §8a (3) BSIG. Ralf Plomann, Head of IT at Klinikum Lünen, gave impressive insights into the development of hospital organisation in preparation for the audit. Prof. Dr. med. Andreas Becker, who made it clear that sound industry expertise is an essential and indispensable cornerstone of a meaningful examination, rounded off the morning.

The expert presentations gave the participants a 360° view of the requirements of the BSI audits, which were largely and with good reason vaguely formulated.

At the end of the morning the visual artist Frank Rogge described his view on the questions of criticality in the field of artistic creation.

The afternoon was completely dedicated to the main interests of the participants. Under the moderation of Jochen Schumacher, co-organiser at SRC, the afternoon was arranged.

The participants independently organized the various contents for nine sessions.

The most significant results of the afternoon

From the session ” Submitting certification findings to the BSI ” it became clear that the BSI does not expect, for example, any “classical” findings or deviations formulated down to the last technical detail. A roughly described framework of deviations and a description of a course of action in the test report is useful. Nevertheless, an appropriate measure must be in place for each risk within a critical infrastructure. This is of enormous importance for the BSI.

The BSI wishes to cooperate closely with the various Kritis companies. The aim is to strengthen the security of IT in Germany.

In the session ” IT Security Awareness in the company ” Ralf Plomann presented the method and implementation of measures at the Lünen Hospital. The individual approach would be very important here. Every individual in the company would be responsible for IT security. In the individual address, every employee would have to be picked up where he is at the moment. According to Plomann, this is especially the case because almost no one would read guidelines any more. Therefore, more creative approaches should be chosen. Ralf Plomann’s wish for the future: “Awareness for IT security should start at school from upper secondary level”. In the course of the next session, a clear trend towards e-learning platforms for improving awareness emerged.

In another session, the participants focused on the safe and simple definition of the scope. The pyramid model was particularly favoured in the discussion. The service classified as critical is the best starting point for defining the scope. For example, when it comes to the critical infrastructure of a sewage treatment plant, the definition of the scope requires identifying and determining which systems clarify the water, what effects a failure would have and how this failure can be compensated by other methods to maintain the critical service.

With this method you systematically move to the outer perimeter. If you get to systems that are no longer critical, the limit of the scope is reached.

Conclusion of the first “Critical Day” from SRC’s point of view

An example of the fascinating atmosphere was the continuation of the bilateral communication of the participants between the individual sessions. The feedback proved that the participants were able to make many new contacts and gain insights from other KRITIS projects.

The overall positive response of the participants shows us as SRC that the Critical Day is a useful hub for the exchange of information on KRITIS projects between the participants. Our thanks goes to all participants who contributed fundamentally to the success of the Critical Day with their open-mindedness and commitment.

We regard the Critical Day as a successful experiment. This motivates us to start preparing for a follow-up event.