Understanding Cybersecurity Threats to Your SAP System

September 7, 2023

Many of the largest enterprises use SAP software. But while an SAP system provides reliable functionality for a wide range of needs, its popularity also attracts unwanted attention. Cybercriminals target this technology with an arsenal of threats that can cost money, time, data, and your reputation. As such, companies need appropriate tools and knowledge to defend against these dangers.

Working with a technology consultant brings the relevant expertise to the table at an affordable cost. For example, Approyo’s managed security service provides continuous protection, with automated event monitoring, patch management, vulnerability assessment, and comprehensive oversight to track cybersecurity threats.

Effective security measures rest on a deep technical understanding so you can mitigate threats. With industry best practices in place, your organization can ensure the integrity and functionality of its SAP system.

Laptop with touchscreen lock

Source: Shutterstock

Unveiling Cybersecurity Threats Affecting SAP System Frameworks

Each SAP system relies on code to accomplish useful business tasks. As with any complex system, enterprise software should be maintained and configured appropriately. Failure to stay on top of system management tasks can let attacks through; other risks stem from flaws within the code itself.

1. Unpatched SAP Systems

One of the most common causes of breaches is relatively simple to prevent but often overlooked. An unpatched SAP system is an installation that doesn’t have security updates applied.

It’s normal for flaws to be discovered in software. When this occurs, the vendor releases a fix or “patch.” There’s often a tension between companies wanting to leave crucial systems online without patching versus the security risks of unpatched systems.

Good patch management involves tracking the latest security holes and applying software updates as they’re released. A full SAP service provider like Approyo can handle this for your organization. Failure to keep the deployment patched violates privacy regulations and lets attackers gain control easily. Then, they can steal your data, alter your finances, disrupt your services, or cause other havoc.

2. Misconfigured SAP Environments

Another area where a lack of care can expose software to risk is configuration. Companies don’t just use the default settings of an SAP system; rather, they configure it to their specific and dynamic needs.

A misconfigured system gives hackers many routes into your sensitive data. For instance, failing to change user passwords or liberally assigning user permissions is the digital equivalent of leaving the doors wide open with confidential information visible.

SAP configuration is a multi-stage process that leaves many opportunities to make a mistake. The process encompasses planning, testing, and maintenance. In general, you should only modify the configuration when there’s a solid reason to do so, and then document each change. Note the new configuration and record related test results.

3. Vulnerable Custom Code

Perhaps the most troublesome aspect of an SAP system to secure is custom code. Companies often modify the base enterprise software with their own programming to achieve functionality that’s unique to their needs.

While this is a potentially valuable way to extend the system, custom code generally doesn’t undergo the same degree of testing as vendor-supplied code.

If a bug finds its way into your custom code, it may go undetected until a hacker exploits it. Because custom code may also access important data, vulnerabilities like injection attacks can cause the same devastation as unpatched systems. So, custom code should have extensive security testing, which an expert like Approyo can conduct.

4. Ransomware

Cybercriminals typically send an infected email, app, or website to someone in your organization. When they open the rigged code, it locks your system. Some truly exceptional ransomware can even infect systems without the victim doing anything.

The outcome of ransomware attacks will vary depending on how the victim responds. Some victims pay off the criminal in hopes of regaining access to important data. After receiving the ransom, the criminal may or may not comply—and can keep a copy of your data regardless. Other victims don’t pay off the attacker but instead work with security or legal experts to recover their systems from backups.

Why Hackers Target SAP Systems

Malicious actors will try to infiltrate an SAP system for a variety of reasons, such as receiving ransom money, accessing sensitive information, and gaining prestige in the online underworld. SAP software hosts immense resources for some of the world’ s largest companies, so these systems make plum targets.

An average SAP system may hold an enterprise’s sales records, customer information, production controls, trade secrets, and more. This data is worth millions of dollars to the enterprise—and to criminals.

Hackers may also want to sabotage a business. The human resource and financial information housed in SAP systems actually drive most business decisions. If this intelligence is altered, the company could see dire long-term consequences.

Best Practices for Safeguarding Your SAP System Infrastructure

As grim as the cyberthreats may seem, there are viable ways to protect an SAP system. These best practices will solidify your deployment to make it tougher for criminals to get in.

Learn about these techniques in greater detail in Mastering SAP: Protecting Your SAP Environment in Today’s Cybersecurity World.

Laptop with touchscreen lock

Source: Shutterstock

Consistent SAP System Updates

Administrators should regularly apply system updates. Installing the latest code will close off security holes before threat actors can exploit them.

It’s often only a matter of days before known vulnerabilities turn into broken data protection—or, in some cases, mere hours. So, when an update is available, there’s no time to waste in installing it.

Refined Access Control

Access control determines who can read or write which data. Your access control should grant only the most limited privileges necessary for employees to do their jobs. Role-based access control helps reach this goal, as does the segregation of duties. With this, tasks require multiple people to prevent fraud by one bad actor.

Use the functionality available in your SAP system to assign individuals to the applications and information they need. This prevents employees from abusing organizational data while excluding external people from accessing the system.

Shield Data Through Encryption

Data encryption is a set of techniques that converts normal data into an unreadable “ciphertext.” The only ways to read the hidden text are to decipher it through the correct authorization or to break the code. Modern cryptography has developed methods that are extremely difficult to break, so encryption is seen as an essential ingredient in securing IT.

Properly executed encryption prevents anyone from misusing data in your SAP system—even if they have a copy of the encrypted data. It’s also necessary for regulatory compliance. Use the encryption tools within your SAP system to conceal valuable database contents and passwords.

Vigilant Security Monitoring

Effective security monitoring complements all the above practices. If you don’t detect suspicious behavior and respond to the incident in time, there’s a much higher risk of attackers stealing your mission-critical data.

Monitoring should occur 24/7/365, which may sound like a tall order. However, it can easily be handled by a professional solution like Approyo’s Overwatch.

Secure Your SAP System With Approyo

The alarming rise of cybersecurity threats puts the data in your SAP system at risk. Criminals take advantage of unpatched and misconfigured systems as well as custom code. Hacks may reveal or destroy sensitive data, in some cases demanding ransom payments, to simply gain money, prestige, and control.

A multi-layered mix of best practices helps prevent these threats. You should consistently apply system updates and maintain detailed access control. Encryption adds another level of defense, and it’s wise to monitor the security situation around the clock.

Having literally hundreds of enterprise SAP systems under management, Approyo applies these best practices and industry-leading technology to thwart cyberattacks. The SAP-certified support safeguards critical organizational assets to ensure sustained operational resilience.

Contact Approyo now to learn how our managed security solution addresses your security needs.


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