8 ERP security best practices to implement now
Since ERP systems contain a lot of critical business information, ERP security is a primary concern for all businesses.
ERP systems can be more difficult to secure when employees are working from home. As the uncertainty of the pandemic keeps many workers out of the office, companies should take steps such as implementing multi-factor authentication and regularly updating software to ensure that sensitive information in their ERP does not. will not be compromised.
Here’s an overview of the differences between on-premises and cloud ERP security, along with some of the ERP security best practices to follow.
On-premise vs cloud ERP security
Understanding some of the unique factors impacting the security of cloud ERP versus on-premises ERP is critical. Believing that someone else is responsible for the security of an app if it’s hosted in the cloud is a dangerous misconception. This is not the case, and every employee, not just technical staff, must believe otherwise.
Many cloud service providers have security add-ons for ERP monitoring and protection, but the reality is that no outsourced provider is likely to care as much about security as the business whose data may be vulnerable. Additionally, the vendor may not understand how to meet the requirements of a specific organization for a truly resilient ERP environment.
Whether an ERP system is on-premises or in the cloud, the following best practices can help mitigate common risks.
1. Implement multi-factor authentication
Multi-factor authentication – sometimes called two-factor authentication – (MFA) can be a valuable part of account security. Since most modern ERP systems are web-based, the risk of exposure of user credentials is often high. This is especially true because of the following:
- Personal login credentials are often confused with professional login credentials. If personal passwords are compromised during a data breach or malware infection, exposures can result.
- The ERP system may not have an intrusion lock to prevent password cracking attacks.
Many ERP systems, on premise and in the cloud, support or include optional MFA. Activate it at all levels when possible. Compromised credentials can expose critical business information, and two levels of authentication can mitigate this risk. Most employees are probably used to two-factor authentication by now.
2. Require Password Best Practices
Basic password complexity requirements can go a long way in protecting user credentials. Some employees may get irritated by stringent password requirements, but they are necessary in today’s world of threats and vulnerabilities.
If objections to password complexity persist, extend the time before users need to change their passwords – for example, by requiring a password change every six months rather than every 60 days. Also, try to engage management in strong password policies and train users to choose easy-to-remember passwords that are nonetheless virtually impossible for an attacker to guess or crack.
3. Stay on top of software updates
Managing vulnerabilities and patches can be difficult, but it’s incredibly easy to compromise a system that is missing patches that are several years old. Many businesses’ networks include desktops and servers that are not properly maintained, and missing software updates can facilitate malware infections and unauthorized remote access.
All it takes for full ERP exposure is a missing operating system or application update or even poorly written code that allows vulnerabilities, such as SQL injection. Periodic and consistent correction is the key.
4. Educate users now and in the future
There is often a U.S. against them felt in the relationship between users and IT and security personnel. Some users may assume that the tech staff take care of everything and that they can do whatever they want since someone else will have a presumed safety net to catch them if they fall.
Involve users in the security decision-making process and ask them what would work best from their perspective. Make them feel like they’re part of the team rather than strangers who can make mistakes.
5. Create and develop an incident response plan
Few organizations have well documented and substantiated incident response plans. Without a proper incident response plan, everyone scrambles when a security event does happen. Think about the who, what, where, when, why and how react to security incidents and breaches well before they occur.
Start with a basic incident response model, then develop it and make improvements to the document, processes, and tools over time.
6. Test, test and test again
Many organizations have yet to recognize the threats and vulnerabilities affecting their ERP system. From mobile devices to workstations to the ERP application itself, weak links are likely to create unnecessary security risks.
Go beyond top-level checklist policies and audits, and perform detailed environmental vulnerability and penetration testing. Make sure you check all the right areas for flaws and weaknesses – all hosts, all software, all people. Another good exercise is threat modeling, which can help identify threats and their origin.
7. Monitor the system
Few companies are proactive when it comes to system logging, alerts, and monitoring of the ERP system or network. Why? Because whether it’s on-premise or in the cloud, it’s not easy, and it’s not cheap. But responding to security events is impossible if you haven’t researched potential issues first.
Many organizations implement their own security operations center and internal security incident and event management system, and it can work well. However, this strategy can also place additional strain on IT staff.
If in doubt, outsource this function. Cloud providers may already perform some monitoring or may offer it as an add-on option. Just make sure someone does.
8. Create a plan for the future
The proven approach to running an effective information security program and supporting a resilient ERP environment of any type is to follow these steps:
- Know what there is. Be fully aware of all the functional parts of the ERP system.
- Understand how the system is at risk. Perform proper and adequate security testing, such as in-depth control audits and, in particular, vulnerability and penetration testing.
- Do something about it. Implement the appropriate controls to eliminate or at least minimize the impact of the identified risks. This includes both engineering controls and software controls involving user education.
Diagnosis is half the cure, but IT and security teams need to take the right steps to fully mitigate the risks identified. Most organizations are deficient in one, if not all three, of the above areas. Unless and until each of these areas has been properly addressed, an ERP environment is in danger.
Great improvements are possible. The most important step is to start today.