The Ignored World of SAP Cyber Security: How organizations are waking up to attacks targeting their SAP cyber-layer

By now I am sure you have seen the public posting with details and a how-to guide regarding an exploitable SAP vulnerability in a major organizations’ internet facing website. It is always disheartening to see a company exposed in this way. It is a cliché (though truth be told I tend to think clichés have an element of truth to them) but when I read about this type of event and the recent Target breach I look for the teachable moment or lessons I can learn. Good security is an ounce of prevention and a dash of luck, and the more you can learn about appropriate preventions the less luck you will need.

When thinking about this event I actually thought of five teachable elements I can use to provide support for my security approach and philosophy. I wanted to start a discussion about SAP and security, something which has only recently been discussed, and review the silent points from what has occurred thanks to the Full Disclosure posting and WooYun report from the Chinese hacker known as Finger.

This event touches on a couple important areas:

  1. Responsible disclosure

In the posting they cite the date 2013-11-21 as when they submitted a report to the vendor and 2014-01-05 as the date they published the details of the vulnerability and how to exploit it on NVIDIA’s servers, despite the vulnerability not having been addressed, due to a lack of a response. This is less than two months (during a busy holiday season) and it is unclear how many times they attempted to contact the security team. While I agree that it is important to get vulnerability information public so issues can be addressed I think it is more important to do so responsibly. Typically attackers/cyber criminals have less change control processes to go through and can weaponize and take advantage of this information long before organizations have been able to test and apply the remediation across their environment. In fact Mariano Nunez, Onapsis CEO, has said “It is critical when you have information that could cause harm to companies effected that you make best efforts to ensure that information is communicated to those companies along with the information needed to remediate those issues before making that information publicly known.”

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Don’t be hoisted by your own petard

In the closing stages of Victor Hugo’s Les Misérables the chief character, Jean Valjean, while carrying another key character seeks to evade the authorities. He does so by traveling through the sewers of Paris, while the search for him and other rebels is focused on the streets above him. In this way Valjean is able to use a critical but commonly forgotten part of the maintenance infrastructure of the city against the city itself.

As I reviewed the research into the Transport Management System (TMS) carried out by the world renowned Research Labs here at Onapsis the parallels of how organizations ignore their Transport Management System when considering the risk and attack surface of their SAP systems and the method employed by Valjean to evade capture were very striking to me. In both cases we have a system that has equal access to all points on the network, from Dev to QA and Productive systems.

The research team has boiled all the relevant risk information and best practices to secure the Transport Management System in this SAP Security In-Depth (SSID) publication. Understanding how to secure your TMS becomes critical when you understand the interconnected nature of a Transport Domain, and the level of access an attacker could gain to the entire landscape if they are able to get a foothold to just one system within the Transport Domain.

This SSID publication is just one in an ongoing series of educational publications researched and produced by Onapsis; all with the goal of providing SAP customers with the information they need to both understand the risks inherent in certain components and the best practices by which to manage these risks.

 

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Security Geeks Introduction to SAP – SAProuter and you

There has been a lot of attention in the news recently about vulnerabilities in SAProuter and how these vulnerabilities could be leveraged. The news spun out of a report that a piece of malware was actively learning about SAP systems known to any PC the malware infected. We wrote about this malware and the possible implications in a recent blog post; but the summary is it seems that the professional bad guy community is starting to take an interest in SAP.

So what is the SAProuter? It is a lot like the name suggests; an application produced by SAP which facilitates, logs (if enabled) and filters communications and network connections between different SAP systems, or between a SAP system and other networks or resources. However it is not a gateway/firewall technology; it only filters communications if the clients are configured to send their communication to the router; and not directly to the end point.

Because of this it should be used in conjunction with a firewall; or else a user who the SAProuter is configured to deny access to a specific backend SAP system could simply manually reconfigure their SAP client to attempt to connect directly with the sensitive SAP systems and start interacting with them directly; bypassing all the ACLs and controls in the SAProuter. A firewall is required to block those direct connections and only allow users to access SAP systems via SAProuter; thus allowing the SAProuter’s rules to be enforced (and connections to be logged).

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How Malware is evolving into the first step of attacks against SAP systems

When I talk to CISOs and other business leaders who are responsible for critical applications that rely on SAP a common question I get is how I would quantify the threat to their SAP systems. We talk about stories that have been shared with them by their colleagues, and the importance and value of following best practices. This morning I have been sharing with them an article showing some apparent reconnaissance activities being taken to discover deployed SAP systems.

The article describes a newly discovered Trojan that primarily targets gaining access to victims online banking accounts. What this malware does that is setting of alarm bells for everyone who is responsible for SAP systems is it analyses each machine the malware runs on to determine if that end user computer is used to communicate with SAP systems. This information is then passed back to the owners of the malware.

So what kind of information are we talking about? A PC with a SAP client installed will have configuration information for that client stored locally. This will contain at least the IP address of the SAP servers that the client connects to. If these clients are configured to login automatically those credentials are obtainable; if not then it is a simple matter to hook the application and capture the password the next time the user logs in.

Now, for those people who are itching to tell  me that they don’t care is an external attacker learns the IP address of their internal SAP systems because they cannot reach these systems I would refer you to this blog post; which debunks the myth of “internal” systems. I’d also point out the reason why the attacker is able to learn the IP addresses of your internal SAP systems if because they have taken control of an internal machine on your network already. Of course if you think I am wrong then you are gambling with the safety and soundness of your SAP systems; which is a high stakes game to play.

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SAP HANA Security: Do You Want a Basic or Secure Implementation?

Different software companies take different approaches to the security of their products after they have been sold to their customers. Some would prefer it if previously released software had no security research attention paid to it where as others take a more realistic and therefore positive (to their customers) attitude. This positive approach is not only to provide their customers with security guidance for each component but to also release vulnerability information to them along with patches or remediation information in a regular and predictable way that allows their customers to anticipate and plan for application of remediation.

SAP falls into the positive camp; as well as releasing vulnerability information for HANA and other SAP components on the second Tuesday of every month they also publish security guidance for best practices to securely install and maintain HANA deployments.

Now, you could try and argue that the ultimate best practice is for SAP to release completely perfect and secure code and products; and to not allow their customers to reconfigure it so it can run in an insecure manor. That and unicorn hamburgers would be fantastic; but I am not holding my breath for either to present itself to me any time soon…

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Complementing GRC – Testing the Forgotten Layer of SAP

For those of us old hands in the security industry we know that when security is done right processes flow smoothly, issues are rare, identified and mitigated before there is any real public perception of the potential for an issue; and businesses continue to achieve their goals of profitability and sustainability. In those circumstances security is often invisible; leading those not connected to the security team to speculate quietly or loudly about the value or worth of the security team to the business.

When security is done poorly the results are obvious and painful. Publicly announced loss of customer information or intellectual property; inefficient processes and costly internal remediation to shore up holes that are identified. Worse still is the effect on the relationship between security and the business; because security isn’t seen for the enablement function it can be the security team may have to force itself into projects – trying to force consistency and security where it didn’t previously exist. Because those (unfortunate) security teams are playing catchup the recommendations delivered for projects often come at the end of the project, causing delays in go-live dates and increased project costs. As a result the security team is seen as the “no-team”, gaining a negative imagine within the organization. So teams with projects try to hide them from security, only disclosing them to security at the last possible minute – causing the cycle of “security team generated delays” to continue.

When I am at conferences a common theme from my peers is to discuss how we can better show the business the positive results that a healthy relationship with security can bring. From more efficient processes, decreased risk and a healthier bottom line; consistently and intelligently applied security has numerous benefits any intelligent business would want to reap.

SAP is a company that understand the importance of security to its customers. It has introduced a regular monthly cycle of releasing patches, notes and other information about new vulnerabilities that effect their software components. Also, SAP proactively publishes security guidance for SAP software; providing customers with the information they need to ensure they are doing all they can to secure their SAP installations.

And for good reason, I am not sure it is possible to calculate the value of the business processed and enabled by SAP systems every day; but given the range of companies that run SAP I am sure it is a more than respectable percentage of the world’s GDP.

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Securing SAP Mobile Platforms: Beyond the Device

Mobile security is definitely a hot topic in our industry. However, it’s quite hard to find people talking about mobile security beyond managing/securing the device itself. Most industry solutions are focused in deploying a secure BYOD strategy and ensuring the devices cannot be exploited with malware.

While this approach is highly important, I have found it difficult to find solutions that actually look at the security of the backend servers that are used by such mobile devices. These servers vary from simple Apache, IIS or Tomcat application servers with Web mobile apps to highly proprietary components.

If your company is using SAP mobile applications in you employees’ tablets or smartphones, then you have SAP servers exposed to the Internet to serve such devices, which already puts them in a more risky situation (Internal threats mentioned on previous blog). With 6000+ customers already using them and being one of the fastest growing product line for SAP AG, it’s highly likely that you are or soon will be empowering your users with SAP-branded apps.

In this scenario, an attacker only needs to perform an external scan to discover such components, and – be sure about it – he is not limited to the functionality that the SAP mobile app is providing your users. He can interface with such SAP servers with a variety of attack tools and try to exploit vulnerabilities in them. The result? He may be able to compromise your entire SAP infrastructure, remotely over the Internet.

This was a growing concern in many of our leading customers, and I’m glad to announce that we responded quickly: Onapsis X1 is now the first-and-only product in the market equipped to detect & assess vulnerabilities affecting SAP Mobile Platforms (Sybase Unwired Platforms), SAP NetWeaver Gateway and SAP Fiori apps.

We are going to be showcasing this new version at booth #231 during the Black Hat Conference this month in Las Vegas as well as hosting a 2 day SAP Security In-Depth training.

Remember that your mobile apps are probably connecting to a backend system in your network. If it’s SAP, we got you covered.

 

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External vs Insider Threats: Why there are no “internal” SAP systems

I would like to reflect on a common situation that I have repeatedly heard over the past few years when talking and training on the topic of SAP security:

When I ask the question:

  • “How are you dealing with the cyber-threats affecting your SAP platform?”

Most commonly I get the answer:

  • “Oh, our SAP system is internal, so we are fine.”

I humbly believe that many people have a misconception about this statement, and it is about time that we clarify that the old paradigm of “external vs. internal” has not applied in information security for a long time. It doesn’t apply when we talk about networks, and therefore, it does not apply when we talk about threats. And specifically, it does not apply to SAP environments.

Let’s analyze why:

  1. Who’s on your “local” network? Several decades ago your local network would only be hosting very few and trustworthy employees. Today, the local network must be considered as harmful as any other untrusted network. Surprisingly, many large organizations still have the SAP platform deployed in networks which are directly reachable from the end-user network (no internal DMZ), significantly increasing the attack surface.

Furthermore, because most large organizations are outsourcing the management of their SAP platforms to 3rd party contractors, less controls can be enforced. Just in the last training we held at Black Hat USA, three students commented privately that they had suffered a breach in their SAP systems, having a disgruntled outsourced contractor as the perpetrator.  

  1. That one application. It’s not rare to hear from Information Security peers that they were not aware (most of the time, were not informed) of that one application that actually exposes SAP components to suppliers, partners or customers. Because of modern business requirements, many SAP systems are effectively used to provide online access to business processes, usually through Web applications (could be running on top of SAP itself) or Mobile platforms.
  1. Your internal users have email access. Even if there is no SAP Web application to exploit directly, malicious attackers would of course not give up. For several years now, they would just use client-side exploits in spear phishing attacks: sending malware through a malicious PDF or MS Office document to any internal employee. Upon opening it, your internal user would surrender the entire “local” network to an attacker who may be sitting thousands of miles away. From there, the attacker has effectively established a presence inside your network and can just fire at will at the SAP systems (back to point 1!).
  1. Your SAP system is online. I’m sorry for the bad news, but don’t kill the messenger. SAP AG provides support services (such as EarlyWatch) remotely from specific locations. In order for them to do so, you need to deploy a component called SAProuter that will proxy the remote support connections to your “internal” SAP systems.

Ideally, it should be set up through a VPN connection with SAP AG only, but more often than not it’s possible to find them directly exposed to the Internet. An unsecured SAProuter could be completely exposing your SAP platform to the world. Read this SAP Security In-Depth publication for more information regarding the SAProuter.

In order to mitigate the risks that affect our SAP platform, we first need to understand the threats we are facing. We need to accept that our SAP systems are in fact connected to rouge and untrusted networks. With that mindset change, we can then analyze how to holistically protect it from cyber-attacks.

 

 

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The Onapsis ERP Security Blog

Welcome to the Onapsis ERP Security Blog!

While leading organizations are already taking measures to protect their ERP systems from the increased threat of cyber-attacks, at Onapsis we feel that “leading” is not enough. We realize that still a significant number of organizations are not able to answer a very important question: “Is my ERP implementation secure?” At Onapsis, we know this uncertainty only empowers the bad guys and we feel it’s our duty to level the battlefield. That’s why we created this Blog.

Traditional measures like Segregation of Duties controls are one necessary step, but no longer enough to protect against advanced ERP application-layer attacks. Through this channel, our thought-leaders will share their best-practices, knowledge, war stories and latest research to help you better understand the risks that your company faces as these systems continue to become an increasing target to cyber-attacks. More importantly, we will provide you with actionable guidelines for you to increase the security of your ERP platform – effectively safeguarding your business crown jewels.

Stay tuned for the upcoming posts. We sincerely hope you enjoy them!

The Onapsis Team

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