Beginners Guide to SAP Security: Why is it Important and How Does it Work?

Beginners Guide to SAP Security: Why is it Important and How Does it Work?
Beginners Guide to SAP Security: Why is it Important and How Does it Work?

As cyber threats become more dangerous and frequent, the distinctions between SAP security, cyber security, and compliance are becoming less clear. Many business firms view SAP as specialised software that requires experts with specific SAP experience.

While it is true that most companies need assistance from SAP experts to implement the software, there are ways in which internal security resources and personnel can contribute to creating and maintaining a secure SAP environment.

What is SAP Security?

SAP, which stands for System Analysis Program Development, is a leading ERP (Enterprise Resource Planning) software provider.

An ERP access system is designed to facilitate accurate data entries and provide built-in reporting systems to support informed business decision-making. Currently, the most popular ERP software is SAP.

SAP security is a module within the SAP system that focuses on safeguarding specific data types and allowing appropriate access to others. It aims to ensure the SAP system's security against external and internal threats.

Simply put, SAP security helps protect the confidentiality, integrity, and availability of the SAP system and its data by implementing various security measures.

How Does SAP Work?

SAP ERP software has various applications covering many areas of business operations, such as goods and services, sales, finance, accounting, human resources, manufacturing, and logistics. Such an interconnected system enables efficient information sharing across different parts of a business.

ERP access systems integrate back-office functions like data analysis, stock management, strategic planning and front-office functions like customer relationship management (CRM) and E-business.

These systems consist of multiple applications for human resources, accounting, CRM, sales, and more. By integrating these processes and centralising their management, your company can save time and cost.

Once the SAP system is implemented, SAP security measures ensure its smooth operation, focusing on safeguarding against threat issues and unauthorised data access. SAP security addresses three key areas:

  • Confidentiality: Ensuring that data is not disclosed or accessed by unauthorised individuals.
  • Integrity: Preventing unauthorised modifications or alterations to data.
  • Availability: Protecting against distributed denial-of-service (DDoS) attacks can disrupt system accessibility.

To sum it up, SAP ERP offers a suite of applications to streamline business processes, and SAP security is responsible for upholding data confidentiality, integrity, and availability within the system.

What is the Importance of SAP Security?

  • Prevention of Exploitation and Fraud: SAP security measures are implemented to prevent any potential exploitation or fraudulent activities within the system.
  • Assurance of Data Integrity: These measures the integrity and accuracy of data by implementing controls and safeguards to prevent unauthorised modifications or tampering.
  • Identification of Unauthorised Access: SAP security identifies and prevents unauthorised access attempts, ensuring that only authorised users can access the system and its resources.
  • Ongoing and Automated Audits: It facilitates continuous monitoring and automated audits to assess compliance with security policies and regulations, identifying deviations or vulnerabilities.
  • Detection of Data Leaks: SAP security protocols include mechanisms to detect and prevent data leaks, ensuring that sensitive information remains protected and confidential.
  • Centralised Security Monitoring: It provides centralised monitoring capabilities, allowing for comprehensive oversight and management of security-related activities and events within the system.

SAP Security Monitoring: Explained in Detail

The security landscape has undergone significant changes, ringing a bell for safeguarding sensitive information stored in data centres. Protecting network systems now requires implementing appropriate tools, platforms, and systems.

However, the question remains: How can you effectively deploy these solutions? The answer lies in using an SAP interface security monitor.

You may initially be frustrated when using SAP and exploring its interface security monitoring function. You might wonder where to find the interface security monitoring feature and where to locate logs of security-related operations within SAP.

Interface security monitoring is an advanced monitoring and logging feature that offers comprehensive insights into the security activities occurring within your SAP environment.

It gives you a deep understanding of the security events and enables a thorough analysis of your SAP security measures.

How to Configure SAP Security?

It is crucial to restrict access to both the application and database servers when using SAP systems to configure SAP security. This can be achieved by properly defining user accounts as roles with specific permissions or restrictions. This way, unauthorised access to data is prevented.

This complete approach safeguards the system from potential damage or data loss caused by unauthorised or suspicious activities.

Now, adding multiple layers and components of security is a must for protecting the SAP system. This involves using a firewall, controlling access, encrypting data, employing digital certificates, and using antivirus and security management software.

By distributing security measures across various levels, the system becomes more resilient. The following stages are vital in securing your SAP system:

Set Security Standards

Ensure that SAP security settings are aligned with company standards regarding data access and confidentiality requirements.

Here, it is crucial to outline basic security measures, such as enforcing password complexity and length and setting limitations on failed password attempts to restrict system or database access.

Identify individuals or employees with sensitive roles within your organisation, as these roles often have the highest access level and pose the most significant risks.

Develop an Emergency Response Plan

In the event of an SAP security issue, network administrators should have the necessary permissions to modify or revoke privileges from other users within the SAP system.

Network administrators must manage the SAP security process, and all procedures should be pre-defined and established to enable swift response in case of an incident.

Review and Monitor

Regularly review and maintain an up-to-date record of who has access to which data, the timing and location of their access, and the reasons for their access.

This ongoing housekeeping practice ensures that security access lists remain accurate, accounting for personnel changes within the organisation and the addition of new employees.

Leverage Security Tools

Use security technologies that monitor SAP access to identify vulnerabilities or gaps in your processes. By employing these tools, you can mitigate the risk of internal attacks or data breaches.

Tip: Investing in access management software and other relevant security technologies will enable your IT team to focus on other responsibilities.


STAD data helps protect against unauthorised access to SAP's functions. It records who accessed what functions and when, allowing for monitoring, analysis, auditing, and security maintenance.

SAP Cryptographic Library

The SAP Cryptographic Library is used for encryption and secure network communication between SAP server components. For front-end components, you need to purchase an SNC-certified partner product.

Internet Transaction Server (ITS) Security

Internet Transaction Server is a middleware component that enables access to SAP system applications through a web browser. It incorporates various security features, including separate hosts for Agate and Wgate.

Network Basics

SAP uses network security tools like firewalls, networks, SAPRouter, etc. Firewalls control communication connections, and SAPRouter filters network traffic.

Web-AS Security (Enterprise Portal Security, SSL, Load Balancing)

SSL is a standard security technique that encrypts server-client connections. Authenticating any communication parties safeguards data integrity. Following enterprise portal, guidelines also enhances system security.

Single Sign-On

SAP single sign-on allows using the same credentials across multiple SAP platforms, reducing administrative costs and security risks. It encrypts data during transfer to protect confidentiality.

Audit Information System (AIS)

AIS is an auditing tool for examining the security aspects of SAP systems. It helps conduct system and business audits; its data is displayed in the Audit InfoStructure.

SAP vs Cyber Security: Know The Difference

The difference between SAP security and cyber security was clear in the past. Cyber security services primarily focused on safeguarding organisations against external threats, while SAP security focused on mitigating internal risks.

Cyber security measures aimed to keep unauthorised individuals out of the network and away from SAP systems, using techniques like intrusion detection, firewall monitoring, and Identity and Access Management (IAM).

If any suspicious activity was detected, the Security Operations (SecOps) team would investigate and neutralise the threat if necessary. On the other hand, SAP security operated under the assumption that any user on the network was authorised to be there.

The objective was to ensure that users had appropriate access levels based on their roles and were in compliance with the company's laws, SAP Governance, Compliance (GRC) program, and Risk Management.

For instance, a segregation of duties (SoD) policy would prevent an employee who can create vendors in the SAP accounting system from being able to pay vendors. This segregation minimises compliance issues and reduces the risk of fraud.

Today, the boundaries between cyber security and SAP security have become increasingly blurred, and the two are closely intertwined.

Top 6 Practices for SAP Application Security

Implementing Secure Design

Ensure that security considerations are integrated into the design phase of SAP applications. This approach eliminates blindspots and maintains critical business applications' security, availability, and compliance.

By adopting a security-by-design approach, organisations can create a blueprint that prioritises security and avoids complications and risks in the future.

Timely Patch Management

Effective patch management is crucial due to the frequent release of patches, complex patching processes, and the size of application landscapes.

Manual patch management processes can be error-prone, making identifying missing patches challenging and prioritising their application challenging. Automating patch management can minimise the risk of critical vulnerabilities and protect essential business assets.

Conduct Point-in-Time Vulnerability Assessment

Perform complete vulnerability checks to identify vulnerabilities and recommend appropriate mitigation measures.

Use a reliable SAP vulnerability management tool with automated assessments, severity descriptions, and step-by-step remediation instructions. This allows organisations to prioritise efforts and address vulnerabilities before negatively impacting the application.

Continuously Monitor Vulnerabilities and Threats

Organisations should proactively detect vulnerabilities and prevent cyberattacks by employing a threat detection and response tool specifically designed for SAP applications.

This tool provides visibility into potential threats targeting critical assets and accelerates the incident response process.

Ensure the Security of Custom Code

Implement measures to write high-quality and secure custom code. Additionally, establish checks to ensure that transports carrying the code do not introduce security, performance, or compliance issues.

Unaddressed issues in custom code and transports can disrupt operations and hinder the delivery of updates. Employing an application security testing solution can help identify and fix issues promptly, integrating security into the development process.

User Training and Awareness

Educate users about SAP security best practices and raise awareness of potential risks and threats. Users must understand their roles and responsibilities in maintaining the security of SAP applications.

By fostering a culture of security awareness, organisations can strengthen their overall security posture.


SAP security measures are essential for safeguarding the integrity, confidentiality, and availability of SAP systems and data. These measures include fraud prevention, data integrity assurance, identification of unauthorised access, ongoing audits, and detection of data leaks.

To achieve robust SAP application security, organisations should adopt a comprehensive approach. This includes configuring SAP security settings to align with company standards, mapping emergency procedures, regularly reviewing access privileges, and using security tools to identify vulnerabilities.

Also, focusing on a secure design, timely patch management, vulnerability assessments, continuous monitoring, secure custom code, and user training are crucial practices to enhance SAP security.By embracing a holistic approach to SAP security, organisations can mitigate risks, protect critical assets, and maintain their SAP environments' overall security and integrity. Organisations must prioritise SAP security as an integral part of their comprehensive security strategy.

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