Security

Why You Should Avoid Customizing PeopleSoft to Enable Single Sign-On (SAML)

By Greg Sosna • October 22, 2020

Don’t Risk the Security of your Data by Customizing an SSO Integration for PeopleSoft

I was on a discovery call recently, and the Senior Software Engineer shared how they’re “ripping out” a custom-built (for PeopleSoft) single sign-on solution (SSO). After acquiring an enterprise SSO, they attempted to build a custom integration with PeopleSoft that presented far more challenges than benefits – especially when users attempted to access with a deep link. Now they’re looking to remove the solution along with the additional infrastructure that was required. 

And here’s the sad part: they’re not the first organization I’ve encountered this month who are experiencing the same challenge. Across all verticals including healthcare, higher education, government, retail and more – PeopleSoft customers are rethinking their decision to enable their enterprise SSO solutions with custom coding, external gateway agents, and reverse proxies. Alternatively, implementing solutions that feature native SAML authentication handlers

Your Custom Single Sign-On Integration Was Not Designed with ERP Data Security in Mind 

These projects often start with the IT department recognizing that it can solve a business requirement by building the solution themselves or by using a generic gateway with copy-and-paste code off an internet forum. The main motivation? They possibly save the company some money, bypass the need for approvals or budget, and check a project off their list. Easy-peasy, right? As highlighted in the example above, it’s not always that straight forward.  

Often, these projects lack a thoughtful mindset and instead leverage code that is many years old, unsupported and public to developers and hackers alike. Here lies one of the biggest problems with customizing PeopleSoft for SSO authentication. Getting the integration to work “well enough” is often the goal, and since developers are not information security professionals – they may not have considered the ramifications of using code that hackers can reverse engineer, potentially exploiting loopholes to gain unauthorized access. As a former PSAdmin who personally retrofitted a custom PeopleSoft SSO solution in my past life, I can tell you that security implications are not on the forefront. Between IT wanting to be a good partner to the business and drowning in long-haul projects, “good enough” was often the goal.

The “Typical” Custom Single Sign-On Approach

There are a few ways to approach building a custom SSO solution. You could try linking SAML open-source code libraries, using reverse proxies, or having an external agent handle it. These solutions seem relatively simple at the outset, but the introduced vulnerabilities are often not obvious or ignored. The end result is that the SSO “works” but is plagued by technical, functional, and security issues once in production. 

Linking SAML Open Source Code Libraries 

A custom coding project typically begins with a review of PeopleBooks and a Google search to find a relatively quick way to write the code. PeopleCode allows you to link external open source java libraries inside PeopleSoft. This is code that you’re literally pulling from an old blog and has not been reviewed since the author first published it. Imagine using code from 2007 to secure your custom single sign-on project. It would never pass a security review!

Secondly, developing a solution yourself is tricky. It isn’t easy to write software that deals with passwords, identity, and authentication. Reputable IdPs spend tens of thousands of man-hours designing, coding, and testing, then supporting their solutions. The lone developer who built your custom solution is now responsible for supporting, maintaining, and upgrading the code. That’s excellent job security for him but a security liability for you. 

Reverse Proxies, Gateways, and External Authentication Agents 

This one is probably a favorite with system administrators who want to support a multitude of non-SAML apps with a one-size-fits-all solution. I’ve also implemented SSO like this in the past, so I can speak from experience about how this works and its risks. 

The short version of how this works is that the authentication is offloaded to a reverse-proxy, an agent, or a gateway, that sits outside PeopleSoft. Once the authentication process is successfully completed, only then is a connection made to PeopleSoft, and the authenticated user-ID passed to the HTTP header. Then that request has to be trusted by a custom Sign-on PeopleCode.  

Aside from the risky firewall configuration, another issue here is that it needs to be scaled carefully for bandwidth because all of the requests will now go through a new server and several new applications to complete the process. Now you have additional hardware, software, and customizations to maintain and patch in addition to your regular PeopleSoft duties. 

Why a Native SAML Handler is Best Practice

SSO is critical to help you increase your security posture within your organization while keeping your customers happy, so I don’t want to sound negative, and I’m not trying to put you off on installing an SSO solution in your environment. Instead, I want to make sure you do it correctly and aligned to security best practices.  

My advice is to use a solution that natively supports a SAML authentication handler and seamlessly and securely passes the token to PeopleSoft built-in authentication without customizations. The term “native” is extremely important here! The lack of native support is a critical issue that plagues custom solutions, creating more hoops to jump through to complete the project. 

Fortunately, Appsian delivers the SAML integration layer required to connect PeopleSoft, an IdP, and your enterprise Single Sign-On. This solution is natively installed right into the PeopleSoft Internet Architecture (PIA) and does not require the use of proxy servers, agents, or gateways. Furthermore, there are zero customizations, simple configuration with extensive support for SAML attributes, user-mapping, and the support and maintenance is offloaded from your team. 

There is Beauty in Customization but Comfort in ERP Data Security 

Part of PeopleSoft’s beauty and power is that you can customize the system to improve your business processes. However, one thing you shouldn’t take into your own hands is authentication, and indirectly, security. Your IT team, system admins, and developers should spend their time supporting and customizing your system to provide outstanding service to the business units and keeping the system running smoothly. Why add more hardware, software, applications, and customization than necessary? 

Contact us today to learn how Appsian solves the SAML integration challenge by providing the only configurable SSO for PeopleSoft.

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Accessibility, Security

Why Colleges and Universities are Rushing to Implement Single Sign-On for PeopleSoft

By Scott Lavery • August 4, 2020

It’s not uncommon for higher education institutions to approach us (with great haste) about our Single Sign-On (SSO) solution for PeopleSoft Campus Solutions. Lately, I’ve noticed an uptick in the urgency. Nobody’s hair is literally on fire, but after speaking with a handful of universities, it sure feels that urgent. Here’s what’s happening. 

The COVID-19 Pivot Strikes Again 

When COVID-19 first caused colleges and universities to shut down their campuses and rapidly switch to online learning, that was their primary focus. Pretty much all non-essential IT (and PeopleSoft) projects were immediately put on hold. After an intense focus on student, staff, and faculty safety and performing herculean feats to enable remote learning and remote access for thousands, IT departments are back to focusing on data security and access.  

This summer, many institutions around the country were cautiously optimistic they could reopen in the fall and were making plans to welcome back faculty and students into something they hope will resemble normal campus life. IT and security teams were also busy, reviewing priorities, projects, and budgets. They know that thousands of students, faculty, and staff depend on the institution’s applications to keep operations running smoothly.  

Unfortunately, all this planning and optimism might be for naught. Almost daily, universities that had released detailed plans for in-person classes in the Fall have reversed themselves and said they will go almost entirely online. Because of these sudden changes, some IT departments are quickly pivoting to adapt their systems to better handle remote access and excessive self-service demands.  

And that’s the urgency we’re experiencing: To improve productivity, enhance security, and improve the overall user experience, universities are (urgently) turning to a SAML SSO solution for PeopleSoft Campus Solutions. Why? Because the first step in addressing usability is ensuring authentication is secure, without causing user friction. 

Enable PeopleSoft SSO with SAML-Based IdPs 

The good news is that Appsian can help universities meet this urgent request in two weeks or less. We provide the only turnkey SAML integration solution for PeopleSoft without any custom development or additional hardware. You can allow thousands of users (students and faculty) to access multiple applications, not just PeopleSoft, using a single login on any device.  

Customers can also use multiple IdPs concurrently, including Okta, Ping, ADFS, Shibboleth, Azure, and more, ensuring that any patchwork of systems used across groups, buildings, and departments are accessible and secure. 

The More Things Change, the More Changes You Have to Make 

COVID-19 has utterly wrecked the college experience for students, but requirements for accessing and securing applications for the upcoming school year haven’t changed for IT departments.  

What’s changed is the urgency to make sure that applications, data, transactions, and lectures are accessible and secure.  

At the end of the day, institutions must pivot their operations to ensure that applications can be seamlessly accessed. For no other reason than friction causes abandon – and when students are 100% virtual, abandon is far more likely. 

The quickest way to improve usability and security for PeopleSoft Campus Solutions is with a SAML Single Sign-On SSO. 

Contact us today to learn how you can make this happen in 2 weeks! 

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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

User Behavior Analytics are Critical in Remote ERP Environments. Here’s Why…

By Scott Lavery • April 17, 2020

I was recently speaking with a customer who expressed a common concern. Because of COVID-19, their entire finance team was forced to work remotely and they were concerned about the risks of executing critical financial transactions. Purchasing, payroll, expenses, everything… all being done from unknown locations and on devices they couldn’t regulate.

From Convenient to Mandatory

It got me thinking, prior to COVID-19 the objectives for enabling remote access to PeopleSoft had mostly been out of a desire for productivity and convenience. For years, Appsian has been working with forward-thinking organizations who identified remote access had significant value. Post COVID-19, organizations are in ‘survival mode’ and have no choice but to open access to their most sensitive financial transactions – and hope for the best. The potential for ‘adding insult to injury’ (ie financial losses) in a remote environment is enormous, and like any rapid pivot, requires a strong strategy to be successful.

You Don’t Know What You Don’t Know

During our conversation, it became clear that their situation posed far more questions than answers. For instance, ‘confidentiality around salary has never been more important’ (I assume they’ve required some employees to take salary reductions) ‘how can I know who viewed salary information, or perhaps downloaded queries?’ ‘how can I be sure unauthorized vendors are not being created?’ ‘how can I be sure payroll is being issued correctly?‘how can I be sure sensitive information isn’t downloaded to someone’s home computer?’ It became clear they were flying blind – and starting to panic.

Traditional ERP Visibility Come Up Short

None of the questions above were able to be answered in this customer’s current environment. It’s common knowledge that traditional ERP logging and analytics focus on troubleshooting errors and scanning for broad system vulnerabilities. They were not designed for understanding user behavior, data access, and usage. If the task is to ensure that data is not being accessed maliciously, exfiltrated, or business processes are not being exploited – ERP visibility comes up short.

This customer initially partnered with Appsian for Single Sign-On and Multi-Factor Authentication – both of which, they were happy to have! However, their attention had turned from intrusion prevention to incident response and risk management. While they had the capability to ensure user authentication was strong, they lacked the ability to understand what activity was taking place. And more importantly, if trends in user behavior were indicative of malicious activity.

How ERP Analytics Prevent ‘Adding Insult to Injury’

This is where ERP Analytics becomes essential. When ERP access is both remote and ubiquitous, the ability to detect and respond to malicious activity is greatly reduced.

Using the Appsian Analytics platform, customers are fully enabled to understand exactly how their ERP data is being accessed – by whom, from where, on what and why. With this information in hand, organizations are fully enabled to detect unauthorized activity and formulate a rapid response before damages become catastrophic.

Analytics Provide Peace-of-Mind

Needless to say, it feels good to provide true value to a customer. It’s not everyday that a customer comes to you, concerned that their business is in trouble (from a market perspective) and they are also concerned additional financial losses will follow (from a business process perspective.) This is where having available data and granular oversight will provide peace-of-mind. During unpredictable times, having as much information at your disposal is critical. This is especially true when sensitive financial processes are taking place outside of your office – essentially your direct control and watchful eye.

The Next Step…

If a lack of visibility is a concern, we’d love to talk. In a brief 30 minute session, we can outline how deep our Analytics can go, common use cases that are pre-configured in the platform, and how they can align to your unique business processes.

Request a Demonstration Today

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Security

Looking for a PeopleSoft ‘Quick Win’? Integrate SAML for Single Sign-On (SSO)

By Scott Lavery • April 7, 2020

It’s no secret that managing PeopleSoft passwords can be challenging. This has been a hot topic for years – and with COVID-19, we’re seeing a resurgence from increased remote access. A remote workforce can quickly put a strain on IT help desk services – especially with resetting passwords. Btw, hackers know that passwords are being reset at a record pace, as demonstrated by the massive uptick in phishing attempts (+667% since Feb. according to Forbes.)

With a myriad of IT projects and an ever-changing list of demands from the organization, setting priorities can be difficult. We’d suggest PeopleSoft customers prioritize a single sign-on for (4) key reasons:

PeopleSoft Passwords are a Security Liability

I eluded to this above, but the statistics speak for themselves. According the 2019 Verizon Data Breach Investigation Report, ‘91% of hacking attacks begin with phishing/spear phishing attacks.’ Organizations try to mitigate this by using a VPN. However, after the expense and potential disruption in service after a large percentage of your workforce is accessing critical business transactions using a VPN – there is little ROI in this strategy.

Might I suggest, requiring VPN access for ‘high privilege’ access only? Normal users that are accessing self-service can be secured by leveraging a Single Sign-On (and possible multi-factor authentication.)

IT Resources Need to be More ‘Focused’ Than Ever

We don’t need to belabor this point but suffice to say that changing your business operations overnight (in the case of COVID-19) causes complexity. Ensuring network/server availability and using help desk services to troubleshoot strategic issues is better than one-off password resets.

The ROI of an SSO Project (over time) is Very High

When you count up the hours spent managing passwords (80% of help desk calls), you quickly 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. Bottom line, an SSO project will delight both users, IT teams, and your CFO alike!

This Project Can be Done Quickly (2-4 weeks.)

We’ve come to the (sort of) tricky part. Organizations have tackled SSO projects using customizations and home-grown solutions – all of which modify PeopleSoft code and create challenges down the line. Needless to say, if you’re looking for rapid deployment, with minimum complexity (today and in the future) – than a configurable approach is recommended.

This is where Appsian comes in, as we’ve developed the native SAML connector that can seamlessly integrate your Identity Provider (OKTA, ADFS, Azure, Shibb, etc.) with PeopleSoft – creating a configurable Single Sign-On. Thus, not effecting underlying PeopleCode or having an impact on future application upgrades.

Bottom line, if you’re looking to quickly alleviate a lot of the complexity around PeopleSoft identity and access management – Appsian can help! We have worked with hundreds of PeopleSoft customers around the world, helping them remove costly customizations and implement a SAML-configured Single Sign-On for PeopleSoft.

Let us show you! We can get you up in running in a couple of weeks!

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Security

December is Prime “ERP Data Breach” Season… Be Prepared!

By Scott Lavery • November 28, 2018

Establishing security best practices for your PeopleSoft applications is always a work in progress. As newer, more advanced threats come to light, staying current can feel like a daunting task. While PeopleSoft systems are inherently robust and secure, a constantly evolving threat landscape, PLUS new data regulations have paved the way for several necessary security enhancements. As the end of 2018 draws near, now more than ever, organizations must be aware of the myriad of threats that are well-aware that “year-end” bonus season is coming… and are preparing their tactics to redirect your employees hard-earned payroll/bonuses.

What is the weakest link in your ERP security chain?

Threats today have become increasingly user-centric. The targets for malicious hackers have shifted from entire networks to applications. By leveraging phishing and social engineering attacks, most ERP breaches are now originating from the unauthorized use of valid login credentials – stolen directly from the user themselves. Thus, making your users (and their passwords) by far, the weakest link in your security chain.

Recommendations for mitigating the “human error” element

Inspired by dozens of successful PeopleSoft security projects, security experts at Appsian have compiled a list of best practices that every organization must utilize, and details the steps that should be taken to implement a layered approach to securing PeopleSoft. Rather than solely focusing security efforts on the perimeter, we will discuss how your sensitive data can be protected from malicious intruders (and even insiders) who are able to access PeopleSoft with valid credentials:

  • Enabling SAML for centralized identity management and establishing a single sign-on to reduce the risk caused by users having multiple (potentially) weak passwords.
  • Expanding traditional multi-factor authentication from login-only to field, page and component levels to ensure data protection from insider threats.
  • Employing location-based security to enforce least privilege access when sensitive systems are being accessed from outside your corporate network.
  • Enhancing data masking to alleviate challenges posed by static role-based masking rules and reduce unwanted exposure of sensitive data fields.
  • Extending logging capabilities to be compliance-ready with 360-degree awareness of what going on inside your PeopleSoft systems and user activity.
  • Bringing real-time visibility to breaches, suspicious events, and potential vulnerabilities by incorporating security analytics to your PeopleSoft security infrastructure.

Download the whitepaper to learn more about the best practices for achieving an end-to-end security and compliance strategy.

Download Your Whitepaper!

On a time-crunch? Request a quick session with our PeopleSoft security experts.

Contact Us Today!

 

1. https://info.digitalshadows.com/ERPApplicationsUnderFire-Press.html
2. https://www.us-cert.gov/ncas/current-activity/2018/07/25/Malicious-Cyber-Activity-Targeting-ERP-Applications
3. https://www.cyberark.com/resource/cyberark-global-advanced-threat-landscape-report-2018/

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Tips and Techniques

The Keys to Avoiding a Failed PeopleSoft SSO Project

By Scott Lavery • April 19, 2018

In a previous blog ‘Time is Money’ we discussed what lacking a PeopleSoft-integrated SSO is costing your organization.

By now, we all should fully understand what the recurring password recovery cycle is costing organizations in terms of lost end-user productivity and excessive calls to the IT help desk. Organizations can use a single sign-on (SSO), to establish a centralized authentication system that allows IT to manage support costs and efficiently perform password database provisioning. An SSO also greatly reduces user downtime associated with password reset and recovery.

Off-the-shelf SSO solutions DO NOT work with PeopleSoft

There are numerous vendors who promise that the same SSO that you implement across all of your enterprise applications will also work seamlessly in your PeopleSoft environment. Unfortunately, when it comes to implementing that off-the-shelf SSO in PeopleSoft (specifically) those projects are destined for failure. The reason being that off-the-shelf SSO solutions rely on SAML based technology as an identity federation standard – and there’s no native SAML support in PeopleSoft. Unaware of this fact, SSO vendors will assume that PeopleSoft supports SAML (similar to your other applications) and eventually hit a roadblock during implementation/testing. This complication typically results in the recommendation of added customizations and web server(s) in order to save your PeopleSoft environment from being alienated from the rest of your enterprise applications.

The downsides of fitting a square peg in a round hole

Off-the-shelf SSO solutions need to go through extensive customizations in order to have any communication with PeopleSoft. Firstly, organizations need to build extensive frameworks to integrate SAML based identity providers (ADFS, Shibboleth, etc.) with PeopleSoft using a reverse proxy configuration. These custom developments require procuring and setting up additional infrastructure (hardware, web server(s), etc.) – resulting in prolonged project timelines and budget overruns. Secondly, these customizations (once implemented) are fragile, difficult to troubleshoot and require constant intervention – especially during PeopleSoft updates.

PeopleSoft Single Sign-On – a square peg for a square hole

Organizations can save both time and money by opting for an integrated SSO, exclusively designed for PeopleSoft. For years, the demand for a native SSO utilizing SAML identity providers was a hot topic in the Oracle community – fortunately, this solution is now a reality. Being the only native SSO solution for PeopleSoft, PeopleSoft Single Sign-On by GreyHeller allows organizations to support SAML-based authentication technology without any customizations or additional infrastructure. PeopleSoft Single Sign-On eliminates the need for end-users to utilize multiple (weak and easy to remember, but easy to crack) passwords and empowers them to seamlessly transition between PeopleSoft applications using a single, strong login credential. It also empowers IT teams to centralize authentication management and makes it easy for them to provision password databases as employees come and go in the organization.

Once implemented, PeopleSoft Single Sign-On enables your employees to:

  • Authenticate PeopleSoft sessions via the leading identity providers such as: ADFS/Office 365, Shibboleth, or OKTA
  • Access PeopleSoft via deep link navigation (sent by email or other enterprise communication channels)
  • Utilize PeopleSoft links from a 3rd party portal

When it comes to your enterprise applications, opt for the peg that fits rather than hammering the one that doesn’t into a shape that partially fits! To learn more – request a live demo of PeopleSoft Single Sign-On with an Appsian Solutions Expert email us at info@appsian.com.

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