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Due to digital transformation initiatives, the risk of exploitation at the application layer continues to increase. Critical applications, including SAP, are migrating to the cloud, connected with third parties, or made remotely accessible, leading to a higher risk of vulnerability exploitation. These changes have made SAP vulnerability management increasingly difficult.

SAP security teams are hard at work, continuously monitoring their SAP systems for configuration vulnerabilities while sitting on a never-ending backlog of security patches. To protect their SAP applications from being exploited, organizations need to implement a robust vulnerability management framework that uses automation for both the detection and remediation of SAP vulnerabilities – and Pathlock can help! 

What Is SAP Vulnerability Management?

The management of vulnerabilities is an ongoing process that involves not only identifying potential risks on your network but also developing a plan to prevent those vulnerabilities from causing future harm. An effective vulnerability management system integrates technology and a team of security experts to proactively detect and respond to security threats.

A vulnerability refers to a weakness in your system that exposes you to potential attacks. This can result from a defect in hardware, software, or their implementation, leaving your system open to various risks. Most vulnerabilities can be easily identified and remedied. Software and hardware manufacturers usually keep an eye out for potential vulnerabilities and produce patches to address them. However, when employees ignore these updates or vulnerabilities go unnoticed, new risks and potential losses may emerge.

To reduce the security risk profile of your company, a reliable vulnerability management system typically involves multiple stages.

The Status Quo for SAP Vulnerability Management is Resource-Intensive

Without automation, ensuring your systems are secure requires SAP administrators to continuously monitor their systems manually. To be most effective, they need to build competencies around arcane and detailed technical knowledge that requires continuous investments in training to stay current on the latest patches, recommended configurations, patch deployment guidelines, and patch testing requirements. This likely involves resource and monetary investments that do more to hurt your bottom line than help it.

Additionally, your best SAP engineers need to spend time documenting and enhancing notes to support all change management processes, providing analyses on the priorities of work to be accomplished during windows of planned downtime. Inevitably, the enterprise will need to accept risks associated with increased unplanned downtime and security gaps due to delayed or prolonged patch and configuration management.

What Are the Challenges of Managing Vulnerabilities in Your SAP Environment?

Complexity of SAP Software

The SAP environment is known for its complexity. With numerous components and unique login credentials, users often resort to password reuse. If a single password is breached, hackers can potentially gain entry to multiple sensitive systems. Even with single sign-on (SSO) in place, password-based logins may still be permitted.

Insufficient Budget and Resources

Allocating adequate resources for cybersecurity staffing is crucial. However, there is a shortage of skilled professionals to meet the demand. More than 57% of organizations have been affected by the scarcity of cybersecurity expertise, and application security is among the top three areas where the shortage is significant.

Even a well-staffed team may face time constraints. Every month, security notes containing multiple vulnerability patches, instructions, and varying levels of severity are released, posing a significant challenge for enterprises managing numerous business-critical applications. Teams may spend countless hours manually managing these tasks without a prioritization tool to automate and streamline the process.

Poor Visibility and Context

Visibility has always been key to monitoring and safeguarding valuable assets and attack surfaces. In-house IT teams are typically responsible for managing business-critical applications, with their focus on performance and availability rather than security. As a result, security teams may lack the necessary visibility and context to detect vulnerabilities within these ecosystems and evaluate the potential risks to the organization. While security administrators are responsible for managing vulnerabilities, their tools may not encompass business-critical applications, leaving them dependent on application teams for remediation.

Lack of Automation

Regular patching, a critical activity to manage vulnerabilities, also poses a significant challenge for security and IT teams. Though SAP regularly releases patches to fix weaknesses in their systems, staying up to date with these releases and testing the patches can be time-consuming. Without automation and prioritization of patches, some of your best engineers may end up spending a significant amount of time documenting patches and reviewing test requirements.

5-Step Vulnerability Management Framework for SAP Applications

1. Assess Risks

Conducting a vulnerability assessment through a network scan is the simplest method to identify vulnerabilities. These assessments can help pinpoint misconfigurations or coding flaws that may be exploited to compromise an application or system. Once these vulnerabilities are identified, you can proceed to the next phase.

2. Prioritize Potential Threats

Every vulnerability is distinct, so the approach to addressing them cannot be uniform. The most severe vulnerabilities may not be limited to the newly discovered ones but also the ones that have been backlogged. To determine the severity levels that your organization faces, you can utilize a risk scoring card or matrix to prioritize which vulnerabilities should be addressed first.

3. Take Action

After you have prioritized your vulnerabilities, you can resolve the ones at the top of your list. A patch management process can be implemented to address each vulnerability one at a time, where your security infrastructure or engineering team will repair and test them. These fixes may range from short-term to long-term solutions.

4. Continuously Monitor Vulnerabilities

Continuously monitoring for vulnerabilities is essential for ensuring the effectiveness of patches and staying informed about any irregularities or changes to vulnerabilities. This monitoring stage in the vulnerability management lifecycle can be conducted manually with the assistance of a security analyst or, more commonly, through automated tools. After completing a reassessment, teams can document this information in a vulnerability management report and leverage it for future use.

5. Reassess Security Measures

Once all assessments and actions have been completed to remediate a vulnerability, one of the crucial steps to enhance the effectiveness of a vulnerability management program is to perform a reassessment exercise. This approach helps management determine what worked and what did not work during the lifecycle process. Evaluating these outcomes can identify long-term improvements and be utilized for budgetary requirements.

The Benefits of SAP Vulnerability Management Go Beyond Security

  • Ensure Regulatory Compliance: Auditors can reduce the time and complexity of ensuring their SAP environments are properly patched and configured. Without requiring sample testing or ad-hoc reports, auditors have the information they need to prove that the enterprise is securing its SAP landscape.
  • Optimized Uptime During SAP Patching: Pathlock helps you reduce SAP downtime, both planned and unplanned, by comprehensively scanning and prioritizing patches and configuration corrections. Instead of researching patches and manually cataloging system scans, SAP application owners and administrators can understand and respond efficiently to system vulnerability issues.
  • SAP S/4HANA Migration Support: Security requirements change whenever SAP releases major updates or versions, such as the introduction of SAP S/4HANA. Pathlock ensures that any patches or configuration settings that need to be updated are identified and tracked. This ensures S/4HANA will be even more secure than your last platform.

How Pathlock Helps Secure SAP Systems

Pathlock’s solution for SAP Vulnerability Management continuously scans your SAP applications to identify critical vulnerabilities. Pathlock dynamically visualizes your SAP landscape, shows you where your vulnerabilities are, automatically prioritizes them, and then shows you how to remove the weaknesses in your applications. In short, Pathlock provides continuous monitoring and automated remediation.

Pathlock also scans custom ABAP code to detect security vulnerabilities and compliance problems in production and pre-production environments.

SAP Vulnerability Management by Pathlock is Built on ABAP

Because SAP Vulnerability Management is built on ABAP, enterprises can leverage their existing expertise to install and maintain the solution with no need to purchase or maintain additional hardware, operating systems, or middleware. They can keep all data behind their trusted firewall while achieving the same service levels (SLAs) they do for their SAP platform.

Learn More

With SAP Vulnerability Management, enterprises save valuable time and money by automating SAP patch and configuration audits while simultaneously increasing the uptime of their most valuable applications.

Request a demo and learn more about Pathlock’s Application Security solutions.

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