Like any other software system, an ERP (Enterprise Resource Planning) system is susceptible to cyberattacks. That’s why, companies should improve their protection for ERP systems.
As a software solution, ERP integrates various business processes and functions within an organization to create a single source of truth and unifies everything into a single platform for better control.
Companies use ERP to manage and automate a wide range of activities pertaining to finance and accounting, human resources, manufacturing, supply chain management, inventory management, customer relationship management, project management, and more.
As an ERP connects all the dots in a company, a security breach in the ERP system can potentially compromise all the business functions simultaneously. Hence, it is of paramount importance that ERP systems are protected against cyber threats through various security measures including but not limited to stringent security protocols, firewalls, antivirus, regular analysis of vulnerabilities, and timely security audits.
How does an ERP system work?
An ERP system can be thought of as a central database that stores and manages data related to different departments and functions in a business.
It facilitates the flow of information across various points, promoting collaboration and data consistency. A strong ERP can significantly improve data quality and streamline business processes. Most important, ERP can free a business of silos by integrating processes.
Some key features of an ERP system include:
Fewer silos, better data consistency, and clarity of information across departments all are ensured by ERP systems.
2. Centralized Database
ERP creates a single source of truth for all departments eliminating confusion.
A good ERP software solution can help you automate a fair amount of regular work. You can also set alerts to detect anomalies.
ERP promotes data-driven decision-making by offering analytics based on the data stored on it.
Most ERP systems offer you an easy way of adding members and departments helping you scale without a lot of hassle.
You can customize the tools along with their performance to fit your specific business needs.
How can ERP systems be Threatened by Cyberattacks?
An ERP system is a gateway to every function of a business. Although every ERP software solution comes with a layer of authentication, it is not impossible for hackers to break in. Here’s how hackers can try to break into an ERP system
Weak passwords, stolen credentials, or system vulnerabilities all or any of these can allow hackers to gain unauthorized access. Once they enter the system, manipulating or stealing sensitive data or disrupting operations is not very hard.
The sensitive information stored on ERP systems ranges from financial information and customer data, to trade secrets. A successful breach can lead to data theft, financial loss, penalties, and lawsuits.
Malware and Ransomware Attacks
Ransomware can encrypt critical data making the whole business come to a halt until the ransom is paid.
More companies face data breaches as a result of social engineering attacks than most of us would like to admit. All it takes is a real-looking email that feigns an emergency to trick people into sharing compromising information in a hurry.
If an employee with privileged access to the ERP system goes rogue and decides to cause harm to the business, they can pose a fatal threat to the business, making preventing insider threats crucial. They can expose trade secrets, intentionally break data security laws, sabotage supply chain information to cause widespread confusion and whatnot.
How can you protect your ERP system?
There are some fairly basic steps you can take to protect your ERP system from cyber attacks. We’ll discuss them and focus on a couple of steps that can take your ERP security to the next level.
Keep Software Updated
Never delay updating your ERP system with the patches provided by the ERP vendor. It is necessary to keep all software up to date at all times. A single outdated unit can compromise your entire system.
Implement Strong Access Controls
Enabling strong authentication mechanisms such as multi-factor authentication (MFA) is imperative. Access to the ERP system should be granted on the basis of need. The least privilege principle ought to be followed in this regard.
Employees should be trained on how to spot phishing emails, avoid social engineering attacks, and take care of cyber security by using VPNs on personal devices. Everyone, regardless of their role, should have cyber awareness to be responsible when it comes to safe and secure handling of data.
Perform Regular Security Audits
Despite all the controls and awareness, it is possible for your ERP system to have vulnerabilities. You need to implement frequent penetration testing and rig a continuous vulnerability scanner with your ERP system to stay on top of emerging vulnerabilities.
On top of these, you need to be serious about security audits as and when recommended by the security regulations that your business complies with.
Secure Network Infrastructure
Firewalls, Intrusion detection and prevention systems, and other network security measures should be implemented to protect your network perimeter. It will also help you prevent unauthorized access to the ERP system.
“Remember, the strongest defense is not just reactive but anticipatory, and true cybersecurity is a proactive, ever-evolving commitment”, HARI RAVICHANDRAN, CEO of Aura.
Data encryption makes sure that even if someone breaches the central database of an ERP system, they cannot read the data without the decryption keys.
Apply the Principle of Least Privilege
Users should have access according to their roles. Permissions should be granted carefully following the principle of least privilege at all times.
Backup and incident response
In the event of a ransomware attack, you should be able to lean onto a backup of your data and your processes. You should have an incident response protocol in place and ensure it is followed diligently in the case of a breach.
All of these steps will help you stay compliant with relevant security regulations, make audits easier, and help you fight your case in the event of a security incident.
Are ERP systems targeted frequently?
It is hard to find a specific pattern in cyber threat activities. It is hard to say whether ERP systems are specifically and purposely targeted, but there have been many instances where premiere ERP systems have suffered losses from cyber attacks.
In 2016, the point-of-sale (POS) systems of Oracle’s MICROS division were targeted by a Russian cybercriminal group. It’s unclear how much data the hackers stole. In 2019, some unpatched SAP systems were vulnerable to “10KBLAZE,” a critical vulnerability that could allow attackers to gain unauthorized access and compromise the integrity of SAP systems.
In 2018, hackers used social engineering techniques to trick the employees of an ERP solution company Unit4 to concede unauthorized access to some customer data.
Multiple companies use the servers of ERP providers to unify and integrate their data. Therefore, when an ERP system suffers a data breach it can compromise the data belonging to multiple businesses implicating the vendors and their clients. The above examples represent a minuscule percentage of all the attacks suffered by ERP providers.
Enterprise Resource Planning users and providers alike can suffer severe damage at the hands of hackers. Being aware and cautious is the best way for your business to retain a strong security posture. Remember, the cost of security breaches is way higher than the cost of implementing security measures for your ERP systems. Get free demo now!