Creating Custom Code Responsibly Will Take Your SAP Security to the Next Level
September 19, 2023
September 19, 2023
SAP enterprise software is feature-rich and enables companies to add custom code. Implementing new features lets you go beyond the functionality included in the default installation. But custom code also opens the door to heightened SAP security awareness.
When developing your own applications, it’s important to keep secure coding practices in mind. These established principles help defend against the vulnerabilities facing enterprise software. Purpose-built tools also contribute to the battle for SAP security.
Your organization’s custom code complements the comprehensive features within SAP solutions. However, it can also lead to vulnerabilities. In this article, we explore how to ensure your custom coding practices are secure and uncover how you can overcome common weaknesses.
In creating custom code for the SAP architecture, you must employ safe coding practices. The core features of enterprise software such as S/4HANA or ECC undergo extensive planning and testing. As a result, they rapidly identify and deal with any bugs or vulnerabilities. However, when you develop custom applications, you forego this process.
The only way to maintain or enhance SAP security while deploying custom code is to adhere to industry best practices. When your code runs, it exposes mission-critical data to the same threats facing the SAP-provided code. So, don’t consider secure coding practices a luxury—they’re a basic requirement.
Businesses often keep important information in their SAP database. Think intellectual property, trade secrets, customer data, and transaction data, for instance. They can’t afford to let this sensitive information fall into the hands of criminals.
Enterprise software systems are essential for business survival, so they need adequate protection. This entails tracking and controlling the use of the applications and data from development to deployment. SAP security defends your critical data against both internal and external threats.
Developers aren’t the only ones responsible for the SAP security of your custom code. All those involved in creating and managing the code must play a part. When that custom code is deployed to production environments, it must still be handled appropriately. Malicious code injection can occur even at runtime, so administration is as relevant as development to your defensive efforts.
A single unwanted event can have massive and far-reaching consequences. You don’t want to end up in the news or out of business. Malicious software activity has become one of the main economic challenges of our day. So, it’s important to proactively secure your code.
An SAP service provider like Approyo can help protect your codebase. Approyo has SAP certifications for both cloud and infrastructure operations. And as an exclusive SAP partner for more than a decade, Approyo provides global IT services to hundreds of successful enterprises. The full range of services encompasses consultation, monitoring, hosting, and support—all with SAP security at the root.
SAP security covers not just the software itself but all layers as well—hardware, networking, operating systems, and custom application code. The environment must be configured correctly, and logs should be regularly made and reviewed. Such appropriate precautions prevent fraudulent activity.
The idea is to forbid access to those who aren’t properly authorized. Well-written custom code as part of a comprehensive security policy ensures data integrity while avoiding leaks.
Custom code developers may or may not already know best practices. Some useful techniques to promote SAP security include input validation, output encoding, and error handling. These methods check data before, during, and after use to prevent attacks. One should only work with a vetted partner who applies these and other techniques to secure your data.
Customers are responsible for their own use of custom code, as SAP’s standard protections don’t cover it. Any exploit could cause a data breach and serious loss of sensitive information, customers, and reputation. Systems may become unavailable, or you could even face fines and litigation. So, focus on secure coding practices.
One of the main approaches to SAP security is to use a trustworthy software development lifecycle (SDL). SAP itself uses a secure SDL for all its features, and teams developing custom code should too. As a result, you can manage custom code objects more safely and decommission them when not in use.
Throughout the lifecycle, it’s possible to track custom code objects’ version, ownership, data quality, and patterns of use. From planning to development and ongoing maintenance, each stage should have rigorous tests. Any flaws that are found should be documented and quickly fixed.
While creating custom code for your enterprise system, it’s important to be aware of common vulnerabilities and take preventive measures. Software developers have accumulated decades of experience and know that certain problems are far more likely to occur. Applying the Pareto principle, around 20% of vulnerabilities result in around 80% of problems.
Among the most frequent SAP security vulnerabilities to watch out for are:
Any of these can imperil applications, but well-written custom code adequately handles such risks to bolster security. Input from users should undergo thorough sanitization to prevent injection or other attacks. The sources of data modifications, reads, and execution must also be authenticated.
Security vulnerabilities often relate to data communications. There are numerous components within an SAP solution that have to talk to each other. Such messages may be tampered with to take over a system.
Remote function calls (RFCs) are the common means of communication among different SAP systems. They let one system conduct an operation on another system. Additional application programming interfaces (APIs) can be used when communicating between SAP and non-SAP systems. All these channels must be defended. For instance, login credentials should be encrypted.
The very complexity of SAP solutions adds to the challenges. The more moving parts there are, the more opportunities you have for something to go wrong. Reused passwords among multiple systems and misconfigured applications are just a few of the risks. Instead, aim to simplify your environment. Approyo can help you streamline SAP HANA and other solutions for maximum protection.
Security isn’t an afterthought. With the ubiquitous threats facing modern enterprises, one must integrate security throughout organizational processes. Security teams should supervise SAP applications—particularly custom code.
If you have a security operations center (SOC), it should also oversee SAP security, rather than having an at-risk silo. By the same token, ensure that a security information and event management (SIEM) system can access your SAP-related logs. This shouldn’t be taken for granted since some logs use proprietary formats that are inaccessible.
Another aspect of SAP security that continues to increase the prospective attack surface is the use of hybrid environments. The more locations where you install and run custom code, the more chances to exploit a vulnerability. With combined cloud and on-premise installations, it’s all the more important to eliminate security holes.
If an attacker finds a flaw in custom ABAP code, an injection can break open the entire SAP system. The attacker may manipulate input to navigate to sensitive areas that were supposed to be locked off. Let loose, the hacker can then steal or destroy your most important data. They may blackmail you or sell your details online.
Custom applications present some of the greatest risks if their developers don’t test for common vulnerabilities. It’s imperative to close security holes that could allow a hacker to use malware such as ransomware against your organization.
The sheer scale of SAP Enterprise software can make it difficult to spot security weaknesses. However, here are some of the most common causes:
A change to configurations or parameters may be made without awareness of the side effects on security. A simple configuration error can give threat actors unfettered remote access to your SAP system.
Among the most common misconfigurations are access control lists (ACLs). These determine who can do what in an environment, such as controlling the SAP Message Server or SAP Management Console.
When ACLs control access over multiple environments, there are often cracks through which attackers can break into your system. Penetration testing can identify these weaknesses so you can respond. New software versions also bring stronger default ACLs.
A related vulnerability is to have insufficient control over user accounts. Leaving default accounts like SAP* and SYSTEM with excessive administrator privileges is asking for trouble. You can disable powerful accounts when not in use or use strong passwords.
Enforcing strong passwords is a good idea for ordinary user accounts too. People should regularly update their passwords, and these should be complex. Other ways to increase SAP security include using single sign-on (SSO) and two-factor authentication.
Custom code that doesn’t involve enough scans or bug hunts will increase your risks. So, developers and admins should incorporate security by design. Encrypting data both at rest and in transit will further help defend data in this time of widespread cloud use.
Given the presence of all these security vulnerabilities, it’s wise to have a crisis response plan. Indeed, a lack of backups might also be seen as a vulnerability.
A reliable disaster plan should be tested and include a chain of command. Custom code can be part of your emergency backup plan by intelligently creating copies of enterprise data and facilitating recovery.
Finally, logging and auditing round out ways to avoid or resolve SAP security vulnerabilities. The base enterprise system includes facilities for these purposes. Custom code can ameliorate your monitoring to provide greater visibility.
Early detection of suspicious changes anywhere in your applications and database may trigger proactive defense. It also provides useful information for forensic work after a compromise.
While SAP security may sound difficult, there are many tools that help. Software products support your efforts in avoiding security pitfalls and implementing solid code.
It takes a lot of time and effort to find SAP security problems by manually reviewing thousands of lines of custom code. This process is also prone to human error—it’s easy to omit bugs or find a false positive. For all these reasons, using automated security tools is practically a must.
The SAP Code Vulnerability Analyzer (CVA) automatically goes through custom software. It processes code in the ABAP programming language and searches for common vulnerabilities. This tool is provided by SAP itself, and the vendor also uses it to verify over half a billion lines of code.
The Code Vulnerability Analyzer investigates custom code for more than a hundred vulnerabilities. By conducting both static and dynamic code analysis, it identifies unsecured paths through which bad actors could inject hacks. Additional vulnerabilities detected include object references and errors that can be hijacked to gain unauthorized access to your resources.
Organizations can employ the CVA throughout the software development lifecycle. During development and maintenance activities, you can test both new and already-running code. On your live SAP system, this tool regularly evaluates custom code to reveal any threatening modifications.
The Code Vulnerability Analyzer tests various aspects of your system, such as authorizations and function modules and transactions. It also assesses potentially unsecured configurations for communications protocols like FTP and RTC.
In conjunction with another tool—SAP’s Transport Management System (TMS)—the CVA blocks dangerous communication requests. What’s more, the Code Vulnerability Analyzer enhances SAP security while using developer tools like Eclipse.
These security tools log their results, including findings with the vulnerabilities, risk severity, and methods to fix. The ABAP Code Inspector is an additional tool that investigates objects for security and other areas like performance.
Developers should employ SAP security technology as a key element of responsible engineering practices. This will bring your custom code to the highest standards of enterprise software and protect your investment.
Enterprise software serves key needs but exposes companies to online risks. And while custom code adds functionality, it also brings dangers and opportunities. As you create varied new applications, remember to address common vulnerabilities. SAP security must be top-of-mind when writing and using custom code.
The right tools and expertise go a long way toward improving your security posture. Approyo is the leading full SAP service provider and delivers functional support. This covers myriad capabilities, from project management and quality control to human resources and logistics.
In addition to security coverage, Approyo helps you configure your module and stabilize its functionality. The system will be fine-tuned to squeeze out the most possible performance. And you’ll have experts on hand to supply user training and support.
Contact Approyo now to enhance your digital defenses.