Security

Does ERP Data Security Qualify as an Essential IT Project? Here Are Five Reasons Why It Does.

By Michael Cunningham • May 26, 2020

Stop me if you’ve heard (or spoken) this phrase: “All non-essential projects have been put on hold.”

To be fair, pausing large-scale IT projects (like a cloud ERP migration) in such an uncertain and unpredictable environment makes sense. If the project will take months to implement and it isn’t helping keep the lights on, it isn’t essential. Simple as that! But what is considered “essential” is often a matter of opinion rather than true importance.   

A perfect example is ERP data security. When COVID-19 hit, many organizations began scoping enterprise security solutions like a VPN, which enables remote access. But only in the sense of creating an authentication point – not actually securing data. We touched on this more in a previous blog.

Enabling remote access with a VPN helps keep the lights on, but now that the lights are on (and will hopefully stay on), at what point do you consider the vast amounts of data exposure that have emerged as a NEW risk vector? As a direct result of remote access. This is the point where data security becomes essential.

Overlooked but Essential 

ERP data security too often gets thrown into the “non-essential” project pile, with companies considering it an afterthought, regardless of the economic climate. Afterthought might be too harsh – perhaps they consider what they already have in place as “good enough.” Essentially making the decision to go into completely unprecedented times with legacy technology. Such thinking will leave your data fully exposed to theft, fraud, and other forms of damage. Alas, if you don’t prepare for the future, then the future is likely to be your downfall. This is why we think NOW is the perfect time to make ERP data security a high-priority – dare we say essential – project. Here are five reasons why. 

1: Your ERP Data is Already Exposed 

Just because your virtual front door is locked doesn’t mean there’s nobody in your house. Besides the fact that user credentials (including VPN credentials) are routinely stolen – insider threats are one of the fastest-growing trends in data breaches, accounting for 34% of attacks in 2019, according to Verizon’s 2019 Data Breach Investigations Report. In addition, many insider breaches occur simply by insiders unintentionally misusing data. Without proper data security and monitoring protocols in place, it’s difficult to know if users are leveraging their privilege to access sensitive information for either legitimate or malicious purposes. 

2: Remote Access and Data Security Should Be Synonymous  

A remote workforce is nothing new, but not to the scale caused by the COVID-19 outbreak. The rapid scaling of remote access for critical business functions left many companies relying on conventional (but outdated) security technology, like a VPN. All the while, not considering that remote access means an expanded threat surface – and the wider your threat surface, the more exposed your data is to risk. A VPN may leave you feeling like you shrank your threat surface, but you haven’t truly shrunk your level of risk. Today, the most devastating data breaches happen when credentials are stolen and/or insiders leak/expose data. In a remote access environment, credential/insider risks go up dramatically while a VPN does little to mitigate.

When allowing remote access to your ERP data, you need to monitor a variety of data points, such as where is a user coming from? What data are they trying to access? What device are they using? Is that device being used by the right person? Cybercriminals know these systems are vulnerable and are stepping up attacks.

3: Data Security is Not as Costly as A Data Breach 

According to IBM’s Cost of a Data Breach Report, the average cost of a data breach is $4 million. The average cost of a breach in the U.S. is $8.2 million – more than double the worldwide average

The risks posed by a data breach extend well beyond financial. They are operational as well as compliance-related. Then there are the difficult to quantify costs, including negative exposure and scrutiny for your brand and senior leadership. 

4: Compliance Stakes Have Never Been Higher 

Compliance mandates like SOX, GDPR, CCPA, and others require organizations to maintain details regarding data access, and places a substantial liability when companies are not taking appropriate measures to secure ERP data. Fortunately, organizations can improve compliance by implementing data security tools that respond to insider threats, minimize direct damage caused by a breach, and reduce (or even void) penalties incurred by compromising customer data. 

5: ERP Data Security is A Manageable Problem 

An essential project doesn’t mean it’s complicated or burdensome. In fact, this is one of the more manageable problems to solve, as adding data security doesn’t involve much change management – unlike a cloud migration project. The key is to NOT customize the application(s) but to seek solutions that are configurable. Customizations are not a quick fix – they are not scalable and place additional complexity on support down the line. Configurable solutions to these challenges exist – trust us!   

Data Protection Can Help Keep the Lights On 

You could argue that an ERP data security project isn’t going to help keep the lights on; therefore, it isn’t essential. We would say that any project that helps mitigate business and security risks by enhancing your ability to authenticate users, control access to data, and monitor & respond to potential threats, is essential. And if that project can protect you from fines, theft, and fraud due to a data breach in this current work environment? That’s money you can use to keep the lights on.      

Request a demonstration today to learn how Appsian can help you with your essential ERP data security project.  

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Security

Why the Keys to Maintaining ERP Data Security in a Remote Environment are Control and Visibility

By Piyush Pandey • May 15, 2020

Remote workforces are nothing new to most organizations. According to Buffer’s 2019 State of Remote Work report, 44% of respondents noted that at least part of their team was “full-time remote,” and 31% said that everyone on the team works remotely. Further, at the time of the report, 30% of respondents said that their entire company worked remotely. However, the COVID-19 pandemic accelerated the work-from-home model. By March 31, 2020, the percent of users working remotely had increased 15 percentage points since the start of the COVID-19 outbreak. With that in mind, organizations are assessing how they can maintain granular levels of control and visibility when ERP data is being accessed remotely

Adopting Contextual Controls to Protect ERP Data 

Most organizations already leverage role-based access controls. These controls, which align data access privileges and job function resources, provide a baseline for data governance. However, they often lead to excessive levels of data access and, in turn, produce additional risks. Contextual controls enable an organization to dynamically control access to data during varying contexts of access, often aligning to least privilege best practices. Migrations to cloud applications are largely due to contextual controls being a business requirement, simply because the interconnected applications required a more dynamic approach. 

With the move to a remote workforce, organizations need to create more detailed and more dynamic access controls. With attribute-based access controls (ABAC), a company can incorporate additional context such as geolocation, time of day, and IP address to both ensure the appropriate user is accessing the resources and prevent users from having more access than they need. For example, if the organization knows that an employee should be working from Connecticut, ABAC can prevent access to resources if the user’s location is suddenly California – or a foreign country. 

Contextual controls provide both the prevention of access policy violations, along with alignment between business requirements and security protocols. Because the organization can limit access according to the principle of least privilege, it reduces the risk of data leakage and financial fraud. Meanwhile, by creating more granular, data-centric access privileges, an organization can ensure that users do not get too much or not enough access – limiting the potential negative effects of restricting access excessively. 

User Activity Monitoring for ERP Data Security and Managing Productivity 

Monitoring user access to resources and tracking how users interact with data provides an additional benefit for many organizations as their workforces move towards a remote model. Most organizations recognize the benefit of monitoring user access – but not just instances of logging in and logging out of applications. Understanding data access and usage is now a key requirement when maintaining visibility over business data. Organizations are turning to analytics platforms that both include granular access details, along with a visualization element (for example, SIEM). Data is only as useful as the insights it provides, and rapid aggregation and visualization of user access data is a crucial requirement for data security. 

Using “Virtual” Work Hours 

Looking at a common security use case, many organizations leverage “virtual” work hours to detect anomalies. For example, an employee usually works between the hours of 8 AM and 6 PM but monitoring and alerting to activity around sensitive data at 3 AM, for instance, can be indicative of unauthorized behavior. This uncharacteristic behavior may be an anomaly, but the organization needs to monitor the user activity more closely. If the user denies accessing the information at 3 AM, then the organization needs to focus its monitoring and have the employee change their password. If the organization detects additional unusual activity, then it may need to review the employee’s activities or investigate a potential data breach. 

Monitoring User Productivity 

From a workforce management perspective, organizations can leverage these insights to review employee productivity. Two use cases present themselves. First, many organizations have contracts that stipulate late payments incur a late fee. If the organization knows that employees should be processing payments ten days prior to the payment date, then they can leverage these reports to ensure that employees meet their timelines, even from a remote location. Additionally, by tracking resource usage data, organizations can monitor whether workforce members are appropriately prioritizing their workdays. If the employees are only accessing a business application at the end of the month, then they are likely waiting until the last minute to input payment information. Preventing these potential revenue losses or rush projects in other areas by speaking with the employee enables the organization to stay on top of its financials. 

Enabling Visibility for Business Applications Has Never Been More Critical 

Creating trust within and across distributed workforces ensures productivity. However, continued status update meetings across multiple time zones decrease workforce member efficiency. Organizations already monitor user access to their systems, networks, and applications. As part of a robust security posture, organizations should apply protections at the new perimeter – user identity. Rather than micromanaging employees via emails or chats, managers can gain valuable insight into how users are accessing resources and prioritizing work schedules by reviewing data and resource usage

In an unprecedented time, companies need to find ways to enable their levels of control and visibility over business data. Whether a business application is on-premise or in the cloud, enhancing these solutions should be a mission-critical objective. 

Risks against an organization are prevalent in a remote environment, whether those risks are security-related or employee-related by fraud, theft, and error. The keys to maintaining ERP data security ultimately lie in your ability to provide oversight for your data, and the time to act is now. 

This article was originally published on Global Trade.  

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Security

Managing Compliance Costs with Enhanced Cybersecurity Visibility

By Greg Wendt • May 14, 2020

Data privacy regulations are rapidly reshaping the way companies monitor, manage, and even define the data they collect and store. Prior to new privacy regulations put in place by the European Union and the state of California, the data lifecycle focused solely on collection and dissemination. This meant that the enterprise would collect as much information as possible then store it in a way that maximized accessibility, particularly with the rise of mobile. Cybersecurity, when it was discussed, focused on establishing defensive perimeters to mitigate external threats.

However, since GDPR was implemented in 2018 and reinforced by CCPA in 2019, companies have been required to reconsider how that information lives in their organization and identify who has access to it in order to meet basic compliance standards. Security teams that can adapt to the new requirements are critical to tackling the ballooning costs in compliance, particularly as other states and countries look to pass their own privacy regulations. 

The CCPA and GDPR have elevated customer data security to become a key priority across multiple departments. Since both laws are in the early stages of implementation and interpretation by enforcement agencies, legal departments have become an essential ally in compliance. In the case of the GDPR, the right to be forgotten has been contested by search giant Google in several high-profile court cases, adding greater nuance and detail to how the law impacts data management. Human resources is also a valuable partner in compliance management as they are best positioned to engage employees on new security protocols and assist in the successful deployment of new technology to ensure that workflow is not disrupted. 

Legacy infrastructure increases compliance costs 

The CCPA alone is expected to cost enterprises $55 billion in initial compliance costs, with additional costs to be expected in maintenance fees, with IBM’s 2019 Cost of a Data Breach Report states that the average total cost of a data breach increased to an average of $3.92 million in 2019, though in the United States the average cost per breach rose to $8.9 million. Much of that cost is driven by the recovery process, which involves understanding how the system was breached, what information was affected and bringing systems back online. For many organizations, understanding the scope of damage is difficult because current security systems aren’t designed for data visibility or access management, both of which enable security teams to track who has accessed what data and when. 

Data visibility is a particularly acute challenge in ERP systems because they contain highly sensitive business data, such as financial information, intellectual property or insurance details. Since ERP systems hold so much valuable data, they’re often the last piece of the digital infrastructure to be updated. This results in security gaps when patches are missed, or new security features are added to a legacy system. The “black box” of ERP systems can cause delays in damage assessments, resulting in the risk of hefty fines as the GDPR requires affected customers to be notified within 30 days of when information is compromised. 

Organizations lack tools to comply with “right to know” 

Compliance costs have largely been driven by the wave of “right to know” and “right to be forgotten” requests from their users. The right to know establishes the right of the consumer to know exactly what data a company has collected on them, and to download that data. For the enterprise, this requires being able to identify, organize and share all information pertaining to every single user, breaking the black box paradigm that existed before GDPR. Recent research shows that each request is estimated to cost approximately $1,400, quickly adding to compliance costs. 

The right to be forgotten allows consumers to request that any data related to them be deleted from an organizations’ database. Though the rule is less broadly applicable than the right to know, organizations should be careful of potential violations in their third-party partners or even of careless practices by employees. 

For GDPR and CCPA compliance, outdated and disparate infrastructure also adds major challenges, especially when adhering to the response time limits set out by GDPR. The law requires that organizations respond to right to know requests within 30 days. Yet a global survey of 103 companies worldwide across various industries found that 58% of respondents were unable to meet data access and portability requests within the one-month time limit. One of the main barriers to timely right to know requests was the lack of consolidated, transparent data structures that made finding all relevant information on each individual a costly and long process. 

When organizations don’t understand where collected data is or who can access it, compiling a right to know report is next to impossible. Without any means of tracking access within their internal databases, most enterprises have no idea if the personal information of any user has been accessed, copied or stored in multiple places, forcing compliance teams to track down each piece individually and risking fines when request response takes longer than 30 days. Not only does this heighten the likelihood of compliance violations, but also contributes to the rise of insider security threats, particularly in highly sensitive fields like healthcare and finance. 

As a result, security and compliance teams have begun joining forces to better understand the lifecycle of business data in the enterprise and how it can be effectively secured. 

Regulations align with industry trends 

In many ways, the new regulatory pressures brought by the CCPA and GDPR align with emerging trends in cybersecurity. Insider threats are one of the fastest growing trends in data breaches, accounting for 34% of attacks in 2019. Security features that enable granular tracking of user behavior in real-time addresses ensures access management can be done accurately while also adhering to privacy standards set forth by the GDPR and CCPA. As a result, organizations improve both security and compliance because they can be better prepared to respond to insider threats, minimize direct damage caused by a breach as well as void penalties incurred by compromising customer data. With greater means to identify and differentiate users, security teams are also able to increase access controls as well as better understand who has modified data and when. 

The GDPR and CCPA have had a significant impact on the public expectation for privacy and security. While security measures like multi-factor authentication (MFA) and complex passwords have existed for years, consumers and developers frequently opposed requiring them due to concerns over adding too much friction to the user experience. With cybersecurity concerns entering the mainstream, many consumers are actively seeking out additional ways to protect and manage their personal data. For the enterprise, this has increased employee’s receptiveness to new security features such as MFA to internal systems. Particularly with complex ERP systems, system administrators can unify the heightened expectations for security created by the GDPR and CCPA to reduce the costs of compliance. 

Advanced security tools can address challenges experienced across all departments by supporting secure migrations, enabling better data visibility in new systems, and reducing the long-term costs of compliance. As the security discussion evolves to when not if a hack takes place it is essential to have a holistic program in place to understand what actions will be taken when data is compromised. By hiding their head in the sand, the unprepared enterprise not only risks more damaging attacks but also larger fines. The right security tools can lay the foundation for a program that effectively fulfills the multidisciplinary role of security and engages all necessary experts to protect data and minimize compliance costs. 

This article was originally published by CPO Magazine. 

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Security

Oracle Extends PeopleSoft Support to 2031. Now’s the Time to Invest in PeopleSoft Data Security Projects

By Michael Cunningham • May 6, 2020

On April 19, 2020, Oracle announced on its PeopleSoft Support blog that the company is extending support for the ERP application through 2031. As stated on the blog, Oracle remains “committed to a rolling ten years of support for PeopleSoft. We will review and plan to extend support again next year, and the year after that, so that you have a decade of committed support and can plan your enterprise software investments accordingly.”  

This news should give PeopleSoft customers a sense of certainty that investing in the long-term success of their PeopleSoft applications is mission-critical. Thanks to COVID-19, organizations may be concerned about their short-term financial stability. Add in the newfound uncertainly of continuing large-scale IT projects in this climate (like a cloud ERP migration) – organizations have now found themselves looking for ways to reap maximum benefits with the lowest degree of overhead and project completion time.

Three “Home Improvement” PeopleSoft Data Security Projects  

With large-scale projects on hold, it’s a good time to invest in smaller-scale projects that focus on what is truly mission-critical today (and for the near future) – PeopleSoft data security. You’re already working hard to secure data while users are accessing remotely and while bandaids may be in place right now, organizations must consider strategies that scale long-term. 

Here are three smaller “home improvement” projects that strengthen your PeopleSoft data security posture: 

Integrate your SAML Identity Provider (IdP) for Single Sign-On (SSO)  

When you count the hours spent managing passwords (80% of help desk calls) or tackling SSO projects using customizations and home-grown solutions, you find that removing the complexity of PeopleSoft password management is an ROI positive project. Add in the lost productivity of users not being able to access business transactions (because they’re waiting for their password to be reset), then the ROI increases. The bottom line, a SAML-configured Single Sign-On for PeopleSoft will make everybody happy. A SAML SSO provides the combination of security and productivity that organizations are striving for. And, given the alarming uptick in phishing attacks – user credentials have become an obvious liability.

Strengthen IAM with Adaptive Multi-Factor Authentication (MFA)

When you’re buying new appliances for a remodeling project, you buy a washer and dryer in pairs. Yes, you can wash and dry your clothes using one or the other, but using both is a better option. Same with applying an adaptive multi-factor authentication (MFA) with your SSO as an effective method for verifying identity. Adaptive MFA ensures that contextual attributes (ex. device, network, location) are the determining factor for deploying MFA challenges. The context of access varies in mobile and work-from-home environments, and your level of control should do the same.  This is essential if your users are accessing remotely, as managing authentication (especially for high privilege users) can be challenging.

It is also recommended to expand the use of MFA and apply step-up challenges on transactions that may be considered ‘highly sensitive.’

Real-Time Visibility for User Activity Monitoring and Transaction Logging  

Just like a rug can tie a room together, real-time visibility via user activity monitoring and transaction logging can be the perfect complement to your PeopleSoft data security fixer upper. There are a lot of sensitive transactions being executed outside of the office these days, and monitoring user activity gives you a better sense of how your data is being accessed and used.  

Invest in Today and Plan for Tomorrow 

Now is a good time to take Oracle’s lead in their extension of PeopleSoft support – and alleviate a lot of the complexity around PeopleSoft data security, identity, and access management. Securing remote access with SSO and adaptive MFA today provides significant PeopleSoft ROI – along with applying a strong data security framework that can scale with a myriad of workforce and landscape changes.

Best yet, you can complete these projects in only two to four weeks, and we guarantee you won’t be cleaning up any sawdust when you’re done. 

Request a demonstration of the Appsian Security Platform today.

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Security

Data Security Penalties Get Real….Real Expensive

By Scott Lavery • August 5, 2019

How companies approach data security controls is changing. Segregation of Access (SoAx) is now just as critical as Segregation of Duties (SoD). Who sees sensitive data is just as important as who changes it.

And just to make sure organizations take access controls seriously, regulations such as GDPR are inflicting major penalties for breaches of private data. And soon, it won’t just be about breaches, it’ll also be about fines being levied for data security audit failures.

When GDPR was enacted, there was alot of confusion around the penalties that would be associated with the exposure of sensitive data. Many companies took a wait and see approach in lieu of enacting data protection measures. Especially around legacy applications, such as ERP systems, where the keys to a company’s kingdom are typically stored.

Why?

Couple of reasons. Most companies don’t even have a handle where their sensitive data is even stored. And, in addition, most companies don’t focus on regulatory controls until the penalties are real.

GDPR penalties are real. The penalties associated with many of the state-driven data privacy regulations are real. And now we have some guinea pig companies that show just how real they are.

GDPR was enacted in May of 2018. It took a year before the Information Commissioner’s Office (ICO) nailed a company for a breach of sensitive data.

In 2019, British Airways was hit with a proposed fine of $230m for the exposure of sensitive information. Less than a week later, a second culprit was reported. The ICO has proposed a $124m fine to be assessed to the Marriott hotel chain related to the exposure of sensitive data in over 339 million guest records.

But that’s a European regulation that doesn’t apply to us.

We hear that alot. So, let’s talk about some of the recent US-based breaches and their associated penalties.

In 2013, Yahoo was fined $35m by the SEC and paid an additional $50m in a class action suit for a major exposure of customer data.

In 2015, health insurer Anthem was fined $16m for violating HIPAA regulations and allowing the breach of over 79 million customer records. And that was in addition to the $112m they paid to settle a national class action suit.

In 2017, a breach of Target’s customer information was settled for a $18m fine.

Uber, in 2018, was fined $148m for a major breach of driver and rider records. An unusually large fine for that time that was increased due to their efforts to cover up the breach.

The key takeaway is that, while some of those US fines are relatively low when compared to the GDPR offenders, that is changing. With the introduction of the California Consumer Privacy Act and other state initiatives, fines are being structured to follow the GDPR model. That is they will be calculated as a percentage of an organization’s revenue.

All of sudden that $18m that Target paid blows up to hundreds of millions of dollars.

Still want to take a wait and see approach?

Contact us to see how Appsian can help you address your data security controls.

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