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Assessing the risk potential of SAP landscapes and identifying vulnerabilities are critical components of an SAP security strategy. However, there are numerous approaches to evaluating risk within the SAP landscape and uncovering potential vulnerabilities. With many options, staying informed on modern, critical capabilities and industry best practices can be challenging. These options span from conducting vulnerability audits and scans to performing penetration tests.

While the most suitable approach for identifying vulnerabilities depends entirely on your unique business requirements and diverse security methodologies, each emphasizes different approaches and can be employed to assess the security posture of your SAP system landscape.

Here are three methods we recommend to improve SAP security:

Vulnerability Scan: Comprehensive Visibility of Existing Vulnerabilities

A vulnerability scan, also known as a vulnerability assessment, involves scanning SAP systems for known vulnerabilities through automated or semi-automated processes. The results are compiled in a tabular report, presenting security-relevant parameters from the SAP application server.

However, this scan does not verify if the identified vulnerabilities are exploitable, as a penetration test does. It’s essential to note that some findings may be false positives, meaning they do not pose an actual risk in the current system context. False positives could also arise due to system engineering and configuration where the scanner cannot access all the required information.

Regular vulnerability scans are vital for ensuring overall information security. They help identify issues like incorrect parameter settings, missing patches, outdated logs, and obsolete certificates and services. Automated and periodic scans are considered best practices to maintain a proactive security posture.

Vulnerability Audit: A Comprehensive Security & Compliance Review

A security and compliance audit provides a formal and extensive overview of the security posture across SAP systems and the security-relevant processes within the organization. It offers a more thorough examination when compared to vulnerability scans. This vulnerability audit evaluates physical aspects like network architecture, operating platform security, and application server security. It also includes reviewing and testing current security concepts, including SAP authorizations and emergency user access handling.

The systematic approach of an audit includes a vulnerability scan. However, the added context of the specific system environment eliminates any false positives. As a result, the recommendations that emerge from an audit for safeguarding SAP systems are much more comprehensive and offer deeper insights than a vulnerability scan report alone. Security and compliance audits are particularly valuable as initial preparation, after hardening measures, and during system or platform migrations.

Penetration Test: Identifying Vulnerabilities Through Targeted Intrusion Attempts

A penetration test (pen test) aims to actively exploit SAP vulnerabilities within the system environment. Unlike vulnerability scans, penetration tests require deep expertise and specialized tools from various domains.

Penetration tests demand extensive planning, defining the methods and tools employed, and setting a specific goal. The primary objective is identifying insecure business processes, missing security settings, configurations, or patches, and other vulnerabilities that attackers could exploit. The transmission of unencrypted passwords, reuse of standard passwords, and forgotten databases containing valid user logon information are just a few examples of vulnerabilities that a pen test might reveal.

Penetration tests don’t need to be conducted as frequently as vulnerability scans but should be repeated periodically. We recommend having third-party experts conduct pen tests instead of internal employees to ensure objectivity and avoid conflicts of interest. The effectiveness of this test largely depends on the tester’s experience with information technology, ideally within the organization’s business sector. Apart from technical knowledge, abstract thinking patterns and anticipating threat actor behavior are crucial skills for the tester.

At A Glance: Vulnerability Scans, Audits, and Penetration Tests Compared

SAP Security with Pathlock

Every testing approach, from vulnerability scans to deep penetration tests, is vital to a comprehensive security strategy. However, the complexity of SAP applications makes it challenging to consistently maintain security best practices. The sheer volume of logs that are generated is too vast to be scanned manually. Pathlock provides a variety of solutions for automated scanning and threat detection. These include:

We also offer managed security services wherein our SAP security consultants identify vulnerabilities and secure your SAP systems using the best possible strategy based on your specific business challenges. The solution includes not only the service but the software that comes with it. Our customers get everything from the same source: software, consulting, service, and seasoned experts in security and compliance who can work both remotely and on-site. Additionally, no software licensing is required during the test period, making it a convenient and efficient solution for your SAP security needs.

Pathlock supports you in planning and implementing the ideal SAP security assessment tailored to your organization’s unique business and security requirements. Get in touch with us today to learn more.

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