ERP Security: The Biggest Threats

    ERP systems serve as the core of a company in several respects. These applications are predominantly represented by mega-vendors such as SAP, Microsoft, and Oracle, and within a company, manage the most critical and valuable data. They house information pertaining to customers, sales, finance, product, services, employee data, and trade secrets. A violation of such critical applications can lead to unintended downtime, increased risk of compliance, decreased faith in the brand, and delays in the projects.

    ERP Security Challenges 

    A few years ago, when organizations were traditionally running their ERP applications internally, segregated from the outside world, and available only to internal workers, it was not enough to ensure network segmentation and filters. In the current landscape, where movements such as digital transformation and the shift to the cloud force enterprises to reveal confidential business details beyond their organization’s four walls, the situation is even worse. Although these steps also save money and make companies more flexible, with data traversing between mobile apps, cloud environments, and web applications, they often increase the possible attack surface.

    Cloud Migrations and ERP Security

    Many business-critical systems are being migrated, if not already operating, in hosted environments with the development of digital transformation initiatives. Managed by leading cloud providers such as Amazon, MS Azure, Google, IBM, or SAP, these hosted environments operate in external data centers.

    These apps are linked to the on-premise environment and are available over the internet. In fact, 74% of IDC survey respondents report that their large ERP applications are currently accessible through the internet. This introduces another complexity layer and increases the possible surface of the potential threats.

    This should not scare businesses that migrate their systems to the cloud to take advantage of cost savings and enhanced business functionality; they should opt for ERP data security and analytics solutions that offer comprehensive data protection.

    Financial Impact of ERP Breaches

    Cost of a Data Breach Report 2020, brought out by IBM, highlights that a data breach’s global average cost is $3.86 million. The same for the United States is $8.64 million. Nearly 35 percent of IDC’s ERP security risk survey respondents believe that downtime of the ERP application could cost their organization over $50,000 per hour. 29 percent of respondents thought ERP downtime could cost more than $100,000 per hour for their organization. No two attacks are identical, but it is quite evident that attacks on ERP applications can have a serious financial impact on virtually all businesses.

    Ways of Maintaining ERP Security 

    To improve their data security posture, there are many steps organizations can take. The following are some of them:

    Ensure that continuous (both internal and external) threat monitoring has adequately been developed for all business-critical applications.

    Implement a solution for patch management to ensure the analysis and execution of essential security fixes for your ERP systems.

    Establish security controls for the customized code used for financial reporting in your business-critical applications.

    Ensure that laws, including SOX, NERC-CIP, PCI, CCPA, GDPR, and others, are mapped with key cybersecurity controls.


    Business-critical systems are more and more exposed and linked to various networks and applications in today’s digital world. Those opportunities can be leveraged by attackers to compromise the business processes of your organization and manipulate your company’s essential business data. This further highlights the need for advanced ERP data security and analytics solutions that understand business-critical applications and provide the correct level of visibility and control to ensure that your organization’s most sensitive information and processes are protected.

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