SAP Applications Under Attack by Hackers

  • By Dawna M. Roberts
  • Apr 22, 2021

On April 6, 2021, the Cybersecurity & Infrastructure Security Agency (CISA) released a warning that cybercriminals are actively targeting known vulnerabilities in SAP applications that could allow them to take over the app, infect network systems and take complete control. 

What is a SAP Application?

SAP application under attack from hackers SAP stands for Systems Applications and Products in regard to data processing. Typically, these types of systems are used for essential business operations, such as enterprise resource planning (ERP), product lifecycle management, customer relationship management (CRM), and supply chain management. 

SAP applications include integrated modules that handle different aspects of the program. If any one of these modules includes a known vulnerability or flaw and is not patched immediately, the company using the software is at extreme risk. 

The Warning

On Tuesday, the CISA announced that “On April 6, 2021, security researchers from Onapsis, in coordination with SAP, released an alert detailing observed threat actor activity and techniques that could lead to complete control of unsecured SAP applications. Impacted organizations could experience:

  • theft of sensitive data.

  • financial fraud.

  • disruption of mission-critical business processes.

  • ransomware.

  • halt of all operations.”

They prefaced the warning by saying that SAP applications using outdated software or misconfigured settings could put companies at further risk. 

Who Should be Worried?

As SAP reported in its warning posted earlier today:

“These are the applications that 92 percent of the Forbes Global 2000 have standardized on SAP to power their operations and fuel the global economy,” the alert noted. “With more than 400,000 organizations using SAP, 77 percent of the world’s transactional revenue touches an SAP system. These organizations include the vast majority of pharmaceutical, critical infrastructure and utility companies, food distributors, defense and many more.”

A lot of government agencies and departments use these types of applications and are at severe risk due to the fact that hackers target government offices aggressively. 

Many government agencies handle management and updating of these applications in-house, meaning they could be outdated if not adequately maintained. 

Another hotbed for risk is technology companies using SAP applications for their operations. 

According to Threatpost, who reported on this topic earlier today:

“Our reporting has found that independent software vendors (ISVs) and technology companies have an inordinately high window of exposure,” he told Threatpost. “We are seeing that ISVs and technology companies are lacking in their security rigor as they ultimately may pass on the security responsibilities to the companies that use the ISV to build products for their customers.”

How Are Hackers Exploiting the Vulnerabilities?

Hackers are using various techniques including brute-force attacks on high-privilege user accounts. According to the notice by SAP and Onapsis, there are quite a few known bugs to be exploited CVE-2020-6287, CVE-2020-6207, CVE-2018-2380, CVE-2016-9563, CVE-2016-3976 and CVE-2010-5326.

Onapsis noted in their warning that the active exploits they are witnessing are by “advanced threat actors,” putting companies at extreme risk for damage, data breaches, and ransomware. 

Their notice warns that there is “conclusive evidence that cyberattackers are actively targeting and exploiting unsecured SAP applications, through a varied set of techniques, tools, and procedures and clear indications of sophisticated knowledge of mission-critical applications.” They went on to comment, “The window for defenders is significantly smaller than previously thought, with examples of SAP vulnerabilities being weaponized in less than 72 hours since the release of patches, and new unprotected SAP applications provisioned in the cloud (IaaS) environments being discovered and compromised in less than three hours.”

The best defense against these issues is to update the firmware and software immediately with any available security patches.

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