Is ERP software a security risk?

Enterprise resource planning (ERP) software allows you to organize and manage practically every resource and operation within your working structure. Unfortunately, while this can make work easier for your teams, it can also provide cybercriminals with easy access to your most important data.

To avoid a worst-case scenario, it’s important to understand the most common security vulnerabilities facing your organization when implementing and maintaining an ERP system.

Why is ERP software a common cyberattack target?

With the increase in remote work structures following the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic, more and more organizations have implemented ERP systems to connect their teams and work processes. However, this poses an ERP security risk as the system integrates all business assets. 

Therefore, a cybercriminal needs only to hack into this one system to gain access to all data and resources across the organization. Vulnerabilities within ERP software can lead to attacks on each data source’s assets from each accessible department, resulting in widespread data breaches, theft, and loss. 

Hackers can also exploit ERP infrastructure vulnerabilities by infecting a company’s networks with malware. Because of an ERP system’s value, hackers put more effort into attacking this infrastructure.

Read more: Benefits of ERP: Weighing the Pros and Cons

Common ERP vulnerabilities

ERP systems need to be secure against cyberattacks, but many of these systems harbor common vulnerabilities that put organizations at risk. Thankfully, there are a few strategies that help minimize risk and prevent attacks.

System complexity

ERP tools join together various processes from multiple departments across a working environment. They also often aim to meet users’ particular needs with configurable settings and customization options. This can be beneficial for a tech-savvy user who is well-versed in enterprise technology software. 

However, for most organizations, not all users will feel confident with this technology. This can lead to user errors that could damage the safety of the infrastructure and result in cybersecurity vulnerabilities. Therefore, proper training for all users should be a standard practice when implementing ERP systems.

Access rights

Merging external data sources and third-party tools with your ERP system could create security risks if the access rights aren’t configured correctly. Full access rights can leave your system vulnerable to data attacks from any external tools that have access to your infrastructure. 

In addition, many ERP tools have access roles and permissions that can determine which users can access what information within the system. Leaders need to be diligent when configuring their role and permission settings to keep their data safe.

Delayed updates

ERP system updates should be implemented automatically to minimize the risks associated with outdated software. Software updates typically address the system’s weaknesses and known vulnerabilities. Therefore, systems that have not been updated are prime targets for cyberattacks. It’s important to choose ERP solutions that can perform automatic updates to avoid this security risk.

Compliance issues

Organizations cannot inherently trust the security measures included within ERP tools to keep their network and data safe. These built-in security features must comply with security standards to protect the ERP infrastructure adequately. 

This may involve PCI-DSS requirements, encryption methods, ISO 27001 certifications, and other safety practices, especially for businesses that require credit card data use. To keep their organizations and team members safe, users should try to choose ERP tools that comply with these regulations.

Read more on TechRepublic: CISOs are struggling to prepare for security compliance audits

Cloud ERP system access

Cloud ERP solutions offer features like automatic updates and easy integration with third-party tools. However, cloud-based ERP tools are internet-facing, meaning they pose a greater security risk to web-accessible data.

Effective cloud ERP security involves restricting access to users who can reach the network securely with a company VPN connection or firewall protection to combat this vulnerability. Organizations can also utilize private clouds, which often have better account security monitoring and provide fewer entry points for cybersecurity threats.

System authorization

The more users that have access to your ERP datasets and system privileges, the more likely your solution is to be hacked. Each user account provides a way for hackers to get into your network through the ERP solution. Therefore, enforcing strict authorization settings can reduce the number of potential vulnerabilities that may come from user accounts.

Single-factor authentication

Passwords should be taken seriously to protect your organization’s data. User passwords need to be complex and updated regularly to ensure safety from hackers. 

However, many enterprise software systems only require single-factor authentication to access user accounts. A much more secure method to protect your organization would be to choose a system that requires multi-factor authentication (MFA). The added layer of authentication helps verify each user’s identity, so only the right people are able to access the ERP system.

Read next: Best ERP Systems for 2022: Compare Top Vendors

Madeline Clarke
Madeline Clarke
Madeline is a freelance writer specializing in copywriting and content creation. After studying Art and earning her BFA in Creative Writing at Salisbury University she applied her knowledge of writing and design to develop creative and influential copy. She has since formed her business, Clarke Content, LLC, through which she produces entertaining, informational content and represents companies with professionalism and taste. You can reach Madeline via email at [email protected]

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