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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Security Geeks Introduction to SAP – Vulnerabilities

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 second 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.

As I mentioned in my first post in this series, the typical reaction of a business when asked about the security of their SAP systems is to refer to the SoD checks they do. That is the testing they do to ensure proper Segregation of Duties is enforced; which is, the system has the logic in place to prevent fraud – so the person who submits an expense report cannot approve it as well, for example.

Given 10 years of dealing with buffer overflows, ClientSide attacks, SQLi and numerous other ways to exploit weaknesses in how systems have been coded and implemented, I was more than a little surprised to learn that the testing of the underlying SAP applications and their configuration was not common practice.

There are numerous presentations and articles online that talk about the day SAP released 500 notes; and those that talk about the current rate at which SAP releases their notes. Suffice it to say that SAP is a large and mature technology that has the typical amount of issues of any large and mature technology.

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Security Geeks Introduction to SAP

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 past 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 role 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.

I know that more and more ‘traditional’ security professionals are being asked to evaluate the security posture and risk of a business’s SAP system; which makes sense as SAP typically runs the most critical processes and workflows for an organization, as well as housing the most important data. Given the amount of time and effort it is taking me to learn SAP I thought it would be beneficial to publish a little resource for other professionals making the same jump.

So, SAP? For those like me who need to know what an acronym stands for it is Systems, Applications and Products in data processing, also it is never said as a single word, but spelled out S-A-P. It started in and is still based in Germany and according to Wikipedia has a revenue of over 16 billion Euro in 2012 – so not a small company by any stretch of the imagination.

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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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