Analyzing SAP Security Notes November 2014 Edition

SAP is a complex and ever changing system, whether because of changes introduced to your SAP implementation to better suit your business or through the application of Security Notes (Patches) to ensure that newly disclosed vulnerabilities are mitigated.

In order to provide a predictable and scheduled flow of vulnerability mitigation information and security patches, SAP releases the major part of their latest Security Notes information on the second Tuesday of every month. Due to this regular disclosure of new security issues that could potentially weaken the security of SAP systems within an organization, it’s highly recommended to carry out periodic assessments on a monthly basis at least.

At Onapsis we are very concerned about our client’s SAP system security and also the state of SAP security in general, so to assist our customers, we perform a detailed analysis of the monthly SAP Security Notes as soon as they are published. The goal of this is to provide SAP clients with detailed information about the newly released notes and vulnerabilities affecting their SAP systems and help guide their testing of these systems within their organization.

box-plot-November-2014This month, SAP published an unusually quantity of SAP Security Notes: 86 Security Notes (taking into account 65 Support Packages and 21 Patch Day Notes). It was mostly due to a new feature which enhance the security management of RFC Functions and fixes to missing authority check vulnerabilities.

The plot graph illustrates the distribution of CVSS scores across the Security Notes released in November. The only notes taken into account to make it, where the ones to which SAP set a CVSS (14 out of the 86 SAP Security Notes). As you may observe in the graph, the SAP Security Notes this month have a range of values from 3.5 to 10.0 with a median of 6.

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Switchable authorization checks and callback whitelists: A note on RFC security

This week SAP published a paper with the Monthly SAP Notes titled Securing Remote Function Calls (RFC) which outlines guidelines on the best practices to configure different RFC security features. In this post we will focus on two of the newest features in the paper:

  • Switchable Authorization Checks
  • RFC Callback White-lists

Switchable Authorization Checks

This new concept is related to a common problem while implementing SAP Notes or Support Packages, as stated in page 19 of the document:

Authorization checks that are newly introduced in existing RFC function modules through SAP Notes or through support packages can interrupt business-critical system communication if legitimate users do not have the newly introduced authorization.


To enable a nondisruptive evolution of authorization checks, SAP introduced switchable authorization checks in all software systems based on SAP NetWeaver AS for ABAP 7.0 and higher.

When an action is executed, let’s say through a transaction, the system checks that the user has the authorization object S_TCODE and then, inside the transaction code, the system should check for specific authorization objects related to the action to be executed.

Likewise, when an action is executed through an RFC function something similar must happen. In this case, the system should check for the authorization object S_RFC (this can be changed with the profile parameter auth/rfc_authority_check) instead of S_TCODE and also check for specific authorization objects related to the action to be executed.

For example:

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Security Geeks Introduction to SAP – RFC Destinations

As means of a background, I have been in the security field, specifically the pro-active testing (penetration testing) side of security for over a decade. As part of my role I would present at public and private conferences, helping to educate organizations about the benefits of pen testing or helping to educate pen testing teams about the latest techniques.

I say all of this in order to communicate that I would grade myself as having an above average knowledge of the security space and significant familiarity with commonly used terms in the industry. So when I recently took a product manager roles at Onapsis and was told I would have to learn about SAP and the security and risk implications around SAP in the enterprise I smiled and thought “well, I guess I know what I am doing the first couple of days”. As it turns out SAP is a world unto itself, with a lot of history and complexity.

This blog is the third in a series that documents the self-education that I have been undertaking as I learn about SAP, assessing the security of a SAP system and then implementing secure practices.

This blog builds on a webcast I was fortunate to take part in. My colleague Sergio Abraham has spent a considerable amount of time research RFC Destinations, the common ways they are configured and how various SAP components install RFC Destinations in order to function. I recommend in addition to this blog you view the webcast recording here and the corresponding question and answer session it generated here.

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