95% SAP Systems Prone To Cyber Attack: Study

by CXOtoday News Desk    May 07, 2015


Over 95 percent of SAP systems assessed contained vulnerabilities that could lead to full compromise of the company’s business data and processes, according to a new report released by security firm Onapsis.These attack vectors put intellectual property, financial, credit card, customer and supplier data as well as database warehouse information at risk for the world’s largest companies

SAP is run by over 250,000 customers worldwide, including 87 percent of Global 2000 companies and 98 percent of the 100 most valued brands. Despite housing an organisation’s most valuable and sensitive information, SAP systems are not protected from cyber threats by traditional security approaches.

“The big surprise is that SAP cyber security is falling through the cracks at most companies due to a ‘responsibility’ gap between the SAP Operations team and the IT Security team,” said Mariano Nunez, CEO and co-founder of Onapsis.

The truth is that most patches applied are not security-related, are late or introduce further operational risk, Nunez commented. “Breaches are happening every day but still many CISOs don’t know because they don’t have visibility into their SAP applications. Onapsis constantly researches the attacks that are impacting the industry and works directly with our customers, the market and federal agencies to proactively prevent compromise and respond to incidents when they happen,” he said.

“Companies today are looking ahead at the opportunities presented by moving systems to the cloud, enabling user adoption through mobile devices and big data. The challenge is that most of these new possibilities rely on legacy systems such as SAP. In a connected world, it is essential that critical business applications be protected. Securing a company’s crown jewels is a board-level discussion. Information security professionals need to re-evaluate how SAP is protected from cybersecurity threats,” said Renee Guttmann, vice president, Office of the CISO, Accuvant.

The Top Three Attacks on SAP Systems

The study identifies the three most commonly used approaches for hacking into business-critical data hosted in SAP applications, as well as disrupting key business processes:

Customer Information and Credit Card Breaches Using Pivoting Between SAP Systems. The attack begins with a pivot from a system with lower security to a critical system in order to execute remote function modules in the destination system. Customer and Supplier Portal Attacks. Backdoor users are created in the SAP J2EE User Management Engine.

By exploiting a vulnerability, the hacker can obtain access to SAP Portals and Process Integration platforms and their connected, internal systems. Database Warehousing Attacks through SAP proprietary protocols. This attack is performed by executing operating system commands under the privileges of a particular user, and by exploiting vulnerabilities in the SAP RFC Gateway. The hacker is able to obtain and potentially modify any business information stored in the SAP database.

“This trend is not only continuing, but exacerbating with SAP HANA, which has brought a 450 percent increase in new security patches specifically affecting this platform. With SAP HANA positioned in the center of the SAP ecosystem, data stored in SAP platforms now must be protected both in the cloud and on-premise,” Nunez continued. “The Onapsis Research Labs is the leading company helping SAP SE identify and fix security vulnerabilities affecting SAP HANA.”

Action Plan for CISOs

Retail, oil and gas, manufacturing, pharma and other Global 2000 organizations running critical business process in SAP Business Suite solutions are urged to stay up to date with the latest SAP Security Notes, and to ensure their systems are configured properly in order to meet compliance requirements and strengthened security. These should be part of an action plan to add SAP cybersecurity to the organization’s strategy and roadmap:

- Gain visibility into SAP-based assets to determine the “value at risk”

- Prevent security and compliance issues through continuous monitoring

- Detect and respond to new threats, attacks or user behavior anomalies as indicators of compromise (IOCs)