Securing SAP in the Cloud: Best Practices to Protect Your Business and Reputation

securing sap in the cloud

Essential Best Practices for Ensuring Data Integrity, Compliance, and Business Continuity to Safeguard Your Reputation

Enterprises running SAP workloads in the Cloud are facing greater security threats than ever before. Cybercrime groups and state-sponsored actors are more sophisticated, motivated and have greater resources to lay siege to security systems. Insider leaks from personnel with access to sensitive data also remain a constant threat.

Whether a security breach comes from within or without an organization, the consequences can be devastating. It can cost companies hundreds of thousands to millions of dollars and will often impact a company’s brand and reputation. Depending on the profile of the breach, it could even cost a few jobs.

To defend SAP against modern cyber threats, enterprises need to implement a security strategy that spans across their entire threat landscape and deploys architecture that is built on threat-focused, continuous security capabilities. In this article, we’ll cover the best practices for securing SAP on Cloud and reducing the risk from threat actors targeting SAP environments. 

Take Care of the Basics with Periodic Patching

Security patches are the primary method of fixing vulnerabilities in SAP applications and reducing their attack surface. With patches being released each month, organizations can fall into the habit of blindly applying patches. This isn’t recommended. All patches should be individually assessed to determine if they are relevant to your SAP system. If a patch is deemed relevant, it should be implemented after adequate testing.  

It is worth noting that patching regularly only protects against known vulnerabilities. There are no patches for unknown or ‘zero-day’ vulnerabilities that attackers uncover. For such vulnerabilities, you must implement different security measures.

Implement a Security Information and Event Management Solution

With Cloud adoption and anytime, anyplace access to sensitive information, IT infrastructure has become complex, porous, and borderless. The challenge of securing a dispersed IT environment is further compounded by the complexity and fragmentation of security systems, which makes it difficult to detect threats and slows down attack response times.  

Implementing a Security Information and Event Management (SIEM) solution is one way to alleviate this problem. SIEM solutions store, normalize, aggregate, and apply analytics to security data to discover trends, detect threats, and enable faster threat response. In the case of an active exploitation of a zero-day vulnerability by an attacker, an SIEM solution can detect the attack quickly and alert staff to execute an instant response to shut down the breach.

After the breach is dealt with, your security team can leverage the data collected by your SIEM to prevent the same type of attack from happening again. This is an iterative process that continuously improves your security posture.

Set the Appropriate Security Controls

An effective security strategy for SAP systems accounts for five layers: Client, Infrastructure, Application, Database (DB), and Data Sources. Since threats can originate from any point internally or externally, security controls are needed across all layers of system access. When implemented at each layer of system access and tested for efficacy, security controls assure the confidentiality, integrity, and availability of your devices and services.

Security controls for SAP workloads running in the Cloud should include a well-architected landing zone, the appropriate endpoint controls, and database monitoring tools. You should also include encryption at the database layer to ensure your data is encrypted while it’s being manipulated throughout your SAP system.   

For insider threats, the best defense is to supplement your security controls with good security policies and practices that discriminate against activities that constitute unauthorized use and malicious intent. This includes security training and awareness, background checks, access enforcement and monitoring, and anomaly detection.

Trust No One

After securing your SAP systems from external and internal threats, it’s easy to overlook the threat of human error. Make no mistake, errors in cloud configuration can and have led to data breaches. Eliminating this risk should be a top priority.

One way to address the risk of human error is a Zero Trust security model. Zero Trust is a security framework that requires all users within or without an organization’s network to be authenticated, authorized, and continuously validated for security configuration and posture before being granted access to applications and data. By implementing a Zero Trust model and removing as much human interference as possible with automation, you can further reduce your attack surface and improve your security posture.  

Your organization’s security posture is only as strong as its weakest link. As attacks on SAP systems running in the Cloud increase, these SAP on Cloud security best practices will help you secure your entire threat landscape and reinforce your defenses against internal and external threat actors.

Published: Intelligent CIO

Related Content