Understanding Some Significant Challenges to ERP Data Security

    In many respects, ERP systems serve as the core of many enterprises. These applications are mainly represented by mega-vendors such as SAP, Microsoft, and Oracle, and the most important and valuable data is handled by them within organizations. They store records related to sales, finance, products, services, employee data, and trade secrets. A breach of such critical applications can lead to unintended downtime, increased compliance risk, decreased brand trust, and project delays.

    Security Challenges Related to ERP

    It was not enough to ensure network segmentation and filters a few years ago, when organizations typically operated their ERP applications internally, isolated from the outside world, and open only to internal employees. The situation is much worse in the current climate, where trends such as digital transformation and the transition to the cloud compel companies to disclose sensitive business information outside the four walls of their company. While these steps also save money and make businesses more agile, they also increase the potential threat surface with data traversing between mobile apps, cloud environments, and web applications.

    ERP Security amid Cloud Migrations

    With the advancement of digital transformation programs, many business-critical systems are being migrated, if not already running, in hosted environments. Managed by leading cloud providers such as Amazon, MS Azure, Google, IBM, or SAP, these hosted environments work in external data centers.

    Such applications are connected to the on-site environment and are accessible over the internet. In reality, 74 percent of respondents to the IDC survey report that their large ERP apps are currently accessible through the internet. This adds another layer of uncertainty and increases the surface area of the potential hazards.

    This should not scare companies that migrate their systems to the cloud with an objective to take advantage of cost savings and increased business functionality; they should opt for ERP data security and analytics solutions that provide robust data protection.

    ERP Breaches: The Financial Impact

    IBM’s Cost of a Data Breach Report 2020 highlights that the global average cost of a data breach is $3.86 million. $8.64 million is the cost for the same in the United States. Nearly 35 % of respondents to IDC’s ERP security risk survey believe that the ERP application’s downtime could cost their organizations over $50,000 per hour. 29 percent of respondents thought ERP downtime could cost their company more than $100,000 per hour. No two attacks are alike, but it is evident that attacks on ERP applications can have a significant financial effect on nearly all companies.

    How to Maintain ERP Security

    There are several steps organizations can take to strengthen their data protection posture. Some of them include the following:

    • Ensure that for all business-critical applications, continuous (both internal and external) threat monitoring has been adequately established.
    • Implement a patch management solution to ensure that critical security patches for your ERP systems are analyzed and implemented.
    • In your business-critical applications, create security controls for the personalized code used for financial reporting.
    • Ensure that laws with essential cybersecurity restrictions are mapped, like SOX, NERC-CIP, PCI, CCPA, GDPR, and others.


    In today’s digital world, business-critical systems are more and more exposed and connected to different networks and applications. Those opportunities can be leveraged by attackers to compromise your organization’s business processes and exploit the vital business data. This further highlights the need for sophisticated ERP data protection and analytics solutions that understand business-critical applications and provide the right level of visibility and control to ensure that the most important data and processes of your company are protected.

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