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Enterprise Resource Planning (ERP) systems serve an integral function for organizations, integrating operations such as finance, human resources, and supply chain management – making them primary targets for cybercriminals.

ERP systems contain an abundance of sensitive data, including financial records and customer information. If this information is breached, it could cause losses and damage the company’s reputation. Additionally, these systems are complex, making security oversights common and increasing their vulnerability. Therefore, it is crucial to understand the risks and implement robust security measures.

In this article, you’ll learn about the security risks associated with ERP systems and how to mitigate them. Then, we’ll share how Pathlock can simplify ERP security and ensure compliance. Protect your systems, safeguard data, and maintain integrity with these valuable insights and tools

The High Cost of Unsecured ERP Systems

ERP systems, with their critical organizational role, attract cybercriminals. Unsecured systems can lead to high costs for companies, from financial losses and operational disruptions to reputational damage and loss of customer trust.

Financial Impact

A security breach in an ERP system can result in staggering financial implications. Cybercriminals can access and misuse sensitive financial data or sell it on the dark web. Companies also face regulatory fines for insufficient customer data protection. Moreover, the cost of identifying and fixing the security loophole can be substantial.

Operational Disruptions

A security breach can disrupt a company’s operations, causing downtime and productivity loss. In severe cases, companies may need to suspend operations until resolving the issue, leading to significant losses, especially for those relying heavily on real-time data and processes.

Reputational Damage

Trust is vital for any business. A security breach can tarnish a company’s reputation and lead to a loss of customer trust and loyalty. Repairing this damage can be challenging and time-consuming, emphasizing the need for companies to prioritize their ERP systems’ security.

Loss of Customer Trust

Customers expect organizations to safeguard their personal and financial data. A security breach can result in a loss of customer trust, which can be more damaging than financial loss. Regaining lost trust is difficult, and customers may decide to take their business elsewhere.

Companies must comply with data protection regulations, like the General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) in the European Union. Non-compliance, particularly following a data breach, can result in hefty fines and legal consequences, including lawsuits from affected customers or business partners.

Considering these costs, companies cannot neglect their ERP systems’ security. By acknowledging the risks and implementing strong security measures, they can safeguard their data, operations, and reputation, avoiding the high costs of a security breach.

Managing ERP Security Risks

Data Governance

ERP security risks often stem from poor data governance. The absence of clear data management policies can introduce inconsistencies and inaccuracies, leading to wrong decisions and a higher susceptibility to cyber threats. Companies should create a robust data governance framework outlining roles, responsibilities, and procedures. Regular data audits will maintain data integrity by ensuring adherence to these policies.

Access Controls

Unrestricted access to sensitive data presents a significant risk to ERP security. This risk can be reduced by utilizing role-based access control (RBAC) that restricts system access to data specific to certain roles. Regular access rights reviews can further enhance security by identifying and rectifying inappropriate permissions.

Implementation Strategy

Security risks can arise from implementation oversights during ERP deployments, such as configuration errors or improper installation of security patches. A comprehensive implementation plan with security checks at each stage can prevent these issues. Engaging ERP security experts to review system setup ensures adherence to best security practices.

Shared Responsibility

ERP security is a shared responsibility. However, if employees are not educated about their roles, it can lead to careless behaviors that jeopardize the system. Companies should instill a culture of shared responsibility through regular training and communication about security policies and procedures.

Authentication Methods

Simple username-password combinations leave ERP systems vulnerable to cybercriminals. Implementing multifactor authentication (MFA) can enhance security. MFA requires users to provide multiple verification factors to gain access, making unauthorized breaches more difficult.

System Patching

Unpatched systems are vulnerable to cyberattacks, while patching can cause operational downtime. Automated patch management systems can balance security and productivity by scheduling and applying patches during off-peak hours, minimizing disruption while securing the system.

Security Training

Inadequate security training can lead to inadvertent breaches, such as falling for phishing scams or mishandling sensitive data. Regular, comprehensive training equips employees with the knowledge to identify and avoid threats. Conducting regular security drills and tests reinforces these skills.

Unauthorized Systems

Unauthorized systems, or shadow IT, can expose ERP systems to additional risks. Companies can mitigate these risks by implementing strict IT governance policies and using network monitoring tools to detect and block unauthorized systems.

Regulatory Compliance

Non-compliance with data protection regulations can result in fines and legal consequences. Staying updated on relevant regulations and using compliance management tools can ensure compliance. These tools automate tasks like data mapping and risk assessment, simplifying compliance maintenance.

Vulnerability Assessment

Overlooked vulnerabilities and threats pose significant risks to ERP security. Regular vulnerability assessments and penetration testing can identify and address these risks. Proactively identifying potential threats allows companies to prevent them from becoming actual breaches.

Securing Your ERP System: A Guide

Despite the myriad challenges and potential threats detailed above, securing your ERP system CAN be done in a straightforward manner. These steps will put you on the right track for keeping your corporate data and ERP systems secure.

Recognize Assets and Assess Risk

Securing your ERP system starts with recognizing your key assets and assessing associated risks. You need to determine what data, applications, and systems are critical to your organization. Then, you can evaluate potential risks and vulnerabilities to these assets, prioritizing security efforts based on asset criticality and sensitivity.

Adopt Risk-Based Vulnerability Management

Risk-based vulnerability management proactively enhances ERP security. It helps you identify and prioritize vulnerabilities based on their risk to your organization. Using automated vulnerability scanners can help detect and rank vulnerabilities, prioritizing high-risk ones to reduce the possibility of a cyberattack.

Implement Zero Trust Architecture

A strategic move toward ERP security is implementing a zero-trust architecture. This security model demands verification for every user and device, irrespective of where access attempts originate. It involves network micro-segmentation, multi-factor authentication, and least privilege access controls.

Automate User Provisioning

Automating user provisioning enhances ERP security by creating, managing, and deactivating user accounts in an efficient manner. It reduces human error, ensures timely deactivation of obsolete accounts, and enforces consistent access policies.

Adopt an Adaptive Security Model

An adaptive security model can strengthen your ERP system’s defenses. It anticipates threats and adapts, ensuring ongoing protection. This model involves predicting, preventing, detecting, and responding to security threats, making your ERP system resilient to the evolving cybersecurity environment.

Stay Current with Security Updates

Regularly updating your ERP system is crucial to fix vulnerabilities and keep your system secure. Frequently, online offenders manipulate recognized weaknesses present in obsolete software. Automating this process where possible ensures the timely application of updates.

Ensure Code Security

Secure coding practices and regular code reviews are vital while customizing ERP systems. While customization improves functionality, it can also introduce new vulnerabilities. Regular code reviews help identify and rectify any security flaws.

Audit Third-Party Security

Auditing the security of third-party vendors and partners is essential as they often have access to your ERP system and can inadvertently introduce vulnerabilities. Regular security audits and adherence to your organization’s security standards can mitigate this risk.

Automate Policy Enforcement

Automation of policy enforcement enhances ERP security. It uses software tools to automatically enforce security policies and rules, reducing human error and ensuring consistent security measures, freeing up IT staff for other critical tasks.

Mask Sensitive Data Dynamically

Dynamically masking sensitive data obscures it in transit and at rest, making it unreadable to unauthorized users. It can prevent data breaches and ensure compliance with data protection regulations.

Monitor Threats Continuously

Continuous threat monitoring involves real-time observation of your ERP system to quickly detect and respond to threats. Tools like Security Information and Event Management (SIEM) systems provide real-time analysis of security alerts and aid in early threat detection.

Automate Patch Management

Automating patch management keeps software updated by applying patches released by vendors, reducing the risk of cyberattacks exploiting known vulnerabilities.

Ensure ERP Compliance

Compliance with relevant regulations and standards is essential for ERP security. Failure to comply could lead to fines and harm to one’s reputation. Make sure your ERP system complies with regulations like GDPR and standards such as ISO 27001. Compliance management tools can automate tasks like data mapping and risk assessment.

Enhance ERP Security and Compliance with Pathlock

As one of the leading providers of ERP security and compliance solutions, Pathlock offers a range of products designed to proactively protect your ERP systems from threats while enabling you to meet various compliance requirements.

Automated Provisioning: Pathlock’s automated approach to provisioning allows you to create, maintain, and remove access across your business applications. It offers the most detailed provisioning capabilities, enabling you to better align access with business requirements, such as transaction controls or sensitive data masking. Also, all provisioned access is accompanied by audit-ready documentation.

Data Masking: Pathlock gives you the ability to dynamically mask and anonymize data at the field level and the point of access, allowing you to easily enforce data governance policies that go beyond simple role-based controls. Even the most complex data access policies can be easily implemented across all of your business applications from one unified platform.

Attribute-Based Access Control: Pathlock enhances your existing role-based access controls (RBAC) with attribute-based access controls. This approach enables you to grant access to users through the use of policies that are automatically enforced using context-aware attributes such as location, time range, days, security clearance level, IP address, and more.

Patch Management: Pathlock’s Vulnerability Management module continuously scans your SAP applications to identify critical vulnerabilities. The module automates audits by applying a comprehensive ruleset that continuously monitors SAP systems. This lets you stay current on the latest patches, recommended configurations, patch deployment guidelines, and patch testing requirements.

Access CertificationWith Pathlock, organizations can automate user access reviews and quickly recertify access across all leading business applications. Our customizable, automated workflows eliminate spreadsheets and manual follow-ups, significantly reducing the time, effort, and cost of running recertification campaigns. Additionally, the cross-application support makes it easy for reviewers to fully view access usage and make informed decisions.

Ensuring ERP Security with Confidence

ERP systems form the backbone of an organization’s operations and are attractive targets for cyber threats. The high cost of unsecured ERP systems underscores the necessity of implementing robust security measures. There are myriad strategies and solutions available to manage ERP security risks and protect sensitive data.

You can enhance your ERP system’s security with measures such as risk-based vulnerability management, zero-trust architecture, and automated user provisioning. Adopting an adaptive security model and automatic policy enforcement tools can further strengthen your defenses against threats. Remember, ERP system security requires persistent attention and proactive management — it is not a one-off project.

It’s crucial to keep your system updated regularly, enforce secure coding practices, and audit third-party vendors’ security to create a comprehensive ERP security strategy. In addition, you should consider continuous threat monitoring and automatic patch management as effective ways to detect and rectify vulnerabilities before they become serious issues. Compliance with relevant regulations and standards demonstrates your commitment to protecting customer data.

Closing Thoughts

Knowledge allows you to ensure ERP security confidently. By understanding risks, implementing strong security measures, and using the right tools, you can safeguard your ERP system, protect sensitive data, and uphold your organization’s integrity–all vital to your success.

Streamlining your ERP security doesn’t have to be intimidating or tedious. Solutions like Pathlock can automate and simplify this process, making managing ERP security risks more efficient. With features including active risk management, automated compliance, improved access control, and real-time system monitoring, Pathlock provides a robust defense for your ERP system and your organization.

To learn more about how Pathlock can help secure your ERP system, contact us here for a personalized demo.

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