Disrupting operations, manipulating and destroying data, or causing physical damage: Hackers use targeted attacks to sabotage IT, spread misinformation, or damage systems. The motives are manifold. However, criminals often aim to cause as much damage as possible.
Cybercrime is capable of causing existential damage and, in the case of attacks on administration and infrastructure, can even destabilize democratic states. The recent war in Ukraine impressively demonstrates how cyberattacks and disinformation are increasingly used in modern warfare.
Are SAP systems particularly at risk?
More than 444,000 companies worldwide work with SAP solutions. These systems, such as the ERP system SAP S/4HANA, are an attractive target for hackers. The reason: They often manage critical business processes and store sensitive information such as financial data, personnel information and customer information.
The security of SAP systems is particularly important because they build the digital backbone of companies. If central areas such as production or the supply chain are affected by attacks, damage can skyrocket to millions of euros.
In addition, there are specific aspects that make SAP systems particularly vulnerable to cyber attacks:
Complexity and inconsistent coding
Large SAP systems are highly complex and often strongly customized to the specific needs of a company. This complexity makes it difficult to identify and close all possible security gaps in time. In many cases, different developers are continuously working on different parts of the system.
A common problem in this regard: inconsistent, non-standardized code. This can cause vulnerabilities and errors in the security architecture of an SAP system, through which cybercriminals can gain unauthorized access.
If code is not properly validated or verified, it is much easier for hackers to inject malware into the system and severely damage it.
Outdated Security Measures
Many companies fail to keep their SAP systems up to date. There are many reasons for this: the expected costs are too high, or there is simply not enough trained personnel to take care of cyber security. This often leads to the fact that even well-known security gaps are left unfixed.
Poor authorization management
If authorizations in SAP systems are not carefully managed, users may be able to access information or perform actions without approval. In addition, inactive user accounts provide potential attackers with more opportunities to penetrate the system.
This is particularly critical if the Segregation of Duties (SoD) is not being applied properly. It determines that no person is allowed to have sole control over more than one critical function or task in a system or process. If segregation of duties is not enforced, individuals can perform fraudulent or harmful actions with almost no interruption.
What could Mr. Smith have done in advance to protect his company's SAP systems? We will answer this question in the next article.