Manufacturing companies absolutely depend on their ERP to optimize their business processes and give them the data they need when making important decisions. Cyberattacks and ransomware are unfortunately becoming more common over time, which makes taking steps to fight back against these cyberthreats a priority. Improving ERP security is one thing all manufacturers can do to mitigate cyberthreats.
Why are ERP Systems Targeted?
The answer is simple: a company’s ERP contains crucial and sensitive information. If this information is obtained by outsiders, it may lead to:
- Unauthorized access to or loss of financial records
- Theft of employee, customer, supplier, and vendor personal information
- Corruption of data
- Interruption of processes
- Loss of files or logs
- Changes to traces
ERP Security Challenges
Companies may not secure their ERP systems as thoroughly as they should because of the size and complexity of the task. An ERP includes a wide range of elements, including processes and workflow, master data, hardware, and network infrastructure. There are also many integration points with other IT applications inside and outside of the organization.
Few businesses have the IT resources and skills to provide a high level of security for their on-premises ERP system. That is why a cloud-based ERP, like SYSPRO Cloud ERP, may be a better security solution. Cloud ERP vendors have their servers in secure locations where a dedicated IT staff implement strict security standards.
Where Cybercriminals May Target an ERP
There are many routes that cyber attackers can use to target a company’s ERP system:
- Authentication: Weak passwords, shared accounts, a lack of multi-factor authentication
- File access rights: Poor standards for protecting access to files
- Integration protocols: Inadequate security or encryption for APIs
- Network: Vulnerabilities in network initiation and changing network traffic
- Operating system: Unpatched vulnerabilities
There are also organizational aspects that contribute to making an ERP system vulnerable:
- Failure to perform response planning: No set procedure to report and escalate a security problem
- Failure to perform testing: No regular vulnerability scans and penetration testing that would highlight potential problems
Protect Your ERP System from Cybercriminals
The standard for modern digital security is the Zero Trust architecture (as defined in NIST SP 800-207). This framework assumes there is no traditional network edge—networks can be local, in the cloud, or a combination—and resources and workers can be located anywhere.
Zero Trust has the following key principles:
- Continuous verification: Always verify access, all the time, for all resources; there is no implicit trust granted to assets or user accounts.
- Resource protection: The focus is on protecting assets, services, workflows, network accounts, etc.
- Impact limitation: Minimize the impact if an external or insider breach does occur.
To protect an ERP system from internal threats, role-based access and separation of duties should be standard access controls. With role-based access, a user is granted access based on their function or role. Separation of duties means a user cannot make a transaction without other users authorizing it. An electronic signature enhances governance and traceability by providing an audit trail of who performed a transaction and when it occurred.
Password hygiene and protection is a key area that companies should address to ensure ERP security. Access to the ERP system should be restricted to users with multifactor authentication. An additional protection layer would be to only allow access through a virtual private network.
A standard IT practice should be to update software regularly and implement security patches when they are released. Too often, the fact that an update might take the system offline for a while delays the update, creating vulnerability.
Manufacturers should identify their most important information. Customer data is often identified as critical, so strong security standards should be applied to file integrity and access to the information.
Since attackers can get through using an external integration to the ERP system, all interfaces with the system should be identified and mapped. In addition, for manufacturers adopting the Industrial Internet of Things (IIoT), access to devices and sensors as well as the data transmission to services that collect and consolidate the information need to be secured.
The Information Systems Audit and Control Association (ISACA) recommends a regular assessment of ERP security: checking ERP servers for software vulnerabilities, configuration errors, separation of duties, compliance with relevant standards, and recommendations from vendors.
Since intrusions occur through psychological trickery as often as brute force hacking, it is imperative that everyone who has access to the ERP system attends regular briefings and is kept informed about the latest security techniques. The IT team responsible for the ERP application should also be an integral part of practice exercises for a cyberattack response.
Everyone Plays a Role in ERP Security
Everyone who accesses the company ERP should be aware of the existence of external and internal threats to the system. Any intrusion of this type has the potential to cripple a manufacturing business’ system. Organizational practices and IT-related issues can play a role in ERP security threats, which means that everyone using the system should be trained in ERP security. This step will help ensure all workers using the system are knowledgeable about potential threats.
PositiveVision Will Answer Your Questions About ERP Security
PositiveVision (PVI) has proudly served manufacturing customers in the greater Chicago area for over 30 years. We focus on each customer’s needs to identify their issues and how software can solve them. We help our customers streamline their processes and improve operations using business process automation. Our experts guide you through decision-making to help you make an informed choice.
PVI will install and customize your new manufacturing software system. We offer training to your team and then continue to work with you by providing remote software and tech support as needed. Contact us to speak to one of our product experts about a customized software solution for your business.