Organizations rely heavily on SAP systems and applications to run crucial business processes; securing these systems against cyber-attacks is vital. While several cybersecurity frameworks exist to manage cyber risks, they use generic wording that is hard to apply to application security and lack specific guidance to cover SAP environments. As a result, organizations must select the right frameworks to enhance their security posture and streamline complex security operations to safeguard critical assets from attacks.
What is a Cybersecurity Framework?
A cybersecurity framework is a generic collection of guidelines, best practices, and protocols designed to protect an organization's critical assets. Using the CSF can help organizations establish effective protection for SAP S/4 HANA, SAP ERP, CRM, or SRM if implemented well. The framework allows organizations to recognize, manage, and mitigate the risks they face from cyber-attacks. It also offers a structured approach to securing enterprise-critical SAP applications and aims to decrease the chances of a successful cyber-attack and minimize its impact if it does occur. There are various cybersecurity frameworks available for organizations to adopt; however, any decision should include the following within the framework structure:
- Access controls to ensure that only authorized users have access to SAP systems and applications.
- Regular application of security patches and updates to protect against known vulnerabilities.
- Security measures to protect the network infrastructure that SAP systems and applications are running on.
- Measures to protect sensitive data (i.e., DB or interface data encryption) stored in SAP systems and applications.
- An incident response plan to help organizations quickly and effectively respond to and recover from cyber incidents.
Challenges of Adopting a Cybersecurity Framework
Adopting a cybersecurity framework for SAP systems and applications is complex and resource-intensive. Therefore, organizations should allocate sufficient resources and time for success or leverage a supporting tool suite. However, the investment will pay off in defense against potential attacks if organizations can overcome these common challenges:
- Cost: Implementing a cybersecurity framework can be costly, as it may require the purchase of new hardware and software, hiring additional staff, and providing training and awareness programs.
- Complexity: SAP systems and applications can be complex and securing them requires a thorough understanding of the technologies and processes involved. Frameworks can provide governance but may not offer the detailed information needed to ensure specific SAP ERP applications.
- Resource Constraints: Organizations may need help to allocate sufficient resources to implement a cybersecurity framework, especially if they are already stretched thin with other priorities.
- Integration with Existing Systems: Integrating a cybersecurity framework with existing ERP systems and SAP processes can be challenging, especially for organizations with a large and complex SAP environment.
- Changing Regulatory Requirements: Cybersecurity frameworks are often developed in response to evolving regulations, and organizations may need help to keep up with the rapid pace of change.
Selecting the Best Cybersecurity Framework for SAP
In addition, different frameworks have different areas of emphasis and may provide a challenge when adapting application security. For example, selecting the most appropriate cybersecurity framework for SAP systems and applications can be challenging because the CSF contains wording focusing on the IT infrastructure and is often hard to adapt for enterprise applications.
For instance, if the primary objective is to protect sensitive data, IT personnel may want to search for a framework that includes robust data protection controls. Conversely, if the main goal is to ensure the availability of the SAP systems, IT needs to look for a framework that includes measures to prevent outages and disruptions.
Before finalizing any choice, thoroughly review the requirements of the frameworks. Ensure that the organization has the necessary resources and expertise to meet the framework requirements. In addition, consider whether the framework is scalable and flexible enough to accommodate future needs.
Finally, the budget should be considered when choosing a cybersecurity framework. Implementing a framework can be costly, so look for one that offers the most value at an affordable price. In addition, engaging stakeholders in the decision-making process, including IT staff, security professionals, and business leaders, will ensure the chosen framework meets the organization's needs. By addressing these factors upfront, the framework will be well-received and implemented throughout the organization.
Organizations that rely on SAP systems and applications to support their crucial business processes must adopt a cybersecurity framework. These frameworks provide guidelines, best practices, and procedures for managing and protecting an organization's assets from cyber threats, improving the security posture, and standardizing operations.
There are several cybersecurity frameworks that organizations can adopt for SAP, including the SAP Security Baseline, the NIST CSF, the ISO/IEC 27001 standard, and the CIS 20 Critical Security Controls. Each framework has unique features and benefits; organizations should consider their specific needs and goals when choosing one.
Remember that implementing a cybersecurity framework requires proper planning and allocating sufficient time and resources. However, organizations can streamline the process and overcome potential challenges using SAP security platforms supporting any chosen framework. In addition, the right software solution will help ensure the framework is efficiently implemented and the organization's security posture is managed and maintained over time.
In conclusion, choosing the proper cybersecurity framework is a critical decision for organizations that aim to protect their mission-critical SAP systems and applications. By carefully considering specific needs and goals and selecting a widely recognized and respected framework, organizations can work toward creating barriers that protect critical assets from various threat actors.