Security

Advancing SAP Security and Risk Management with Least Privilege 2.0

By Ryan Quinonez • April 2, 2021

The ERP security landscape is drastically evolving and traditionally on-premise applications such as SAP ECC and S/4HANA are falling behind. Dynamic risks posed by remote access, changing compliance requirements, and the rising number of user-centric threats have highlighted a gap in controls. The ways users access SAP has changed, and because of this, it’s time to reevaluate your security model and how the concept of Least Privilege is being enforced.

The Traditional Approach to Least Privilege in SAP is Insufficient

The Principle of Least Privilege aims to minimize risk by limiting the number of privileges given to a user based on what privileges are job-related or necessary to complete a task—reducing the opportunities for improper uses of privilege to occur.

In SAP, this has traditionally guided role design from a functional perspective. For example, an HR Manager role may have privileges such as maintaining HR master data, processing payroll, or modifying pay rates – but should not have access to transactions outside their line of work (ex. creating, maintaining PO’s).

The approach was sufficient when user access was limited to a physical office, during normal business hours, and on a secure network. However, we all know this has changed. Remote work and cloud-hosted applications have expanded the scope of access, and with it, shifted the risk landscape. Context such as the what, when, where, and how a user interacts with SAP must be considered in addition to functional access rights.

Unfortunately, this leads us to the Achilles heel in SAP security: static, role-based access controls (RBAC). Risk is dynamic. RBAC is not. Without the ability to consider contextual factors beyond a user’s role and privileges, organizations are actually constraining their ability to enforce PoLP.

This gap leads to a variety of risks, including data exfiltration, fraud & theft, policy violations, and compliance risks. It’s time for companies to take their SAP security to the next level. It’s time for Least Privilege 2.0.

Appsian’s Approach to Least Privilege 2.0

As noted earlier, a key to minimizing SAP risk exposure is context. To integrate context into controls, SAP customers can leverage attribute-based access controls (ABAC) and business rules that extend SAP’s existing authorization model.

With the Appsian Security Platform, organizations can enable security policies that align controls with real-world scenarios by considering the context. Dynamic authorizations at both the data and transaction level can be implemented to fine-tune your security measures and align exposure to your organization’s risk appetite.

Least Privilege 2.0 means going beyond static roles and privileges, allowing companies to achieve:

  • Dynamic access controls to understand if a transaction should be performed remotely and incorporating attributes such as user, resource, action, and environment characteristics to limit access to and within SAP data.
  • Risk-aware process controls to ensure that established business policies are enforced and prevent violations from happening in the first place
  • Fine-grained data protection to determine if a user really needs access to a particular set of sensitive data and capture granular insights to uncover user activities and transaction details.

This supplemental attribute-based authorization layer enables rapid, wide-reaching changes without the need to redesign individual roles. For example, organizations can now dynamically protect data with:

Policy-Based Data Masking
Limit the exposure of PII and other high-risk information with dynamically enforced data masking throughout SAP. Policy dictates at runtime whether a user has full access to data within a transaction, limited access via full/partial mask on sensitive fields, or is blocked entirely.

Data Exfiltration Controls
Stop data leakage from both privileged accounts and normal end-users by ensuring data can only leave SAP in secure environments. Access to transactions that export data to downloadable files can be blocked in high-risk scenarios.

Let Appsian Show You How to Address Risk in SAP with Least Privilege 2.0

As business processes in SAP evolve and grow more complex, your organization’s capability to mitigate access risks must also evolve. Appsian can help you leverage Least Privilege 2.0 to extend your SAP security controls to address gaps in coverage and minimize your accepted risk. Get in touch with the experts at Appsian today to schedule a demo and learn how we can help.

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