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3 Critical SAP Risks to Prioritize In A Dynamic Business Environment

By David Vincent • August 31, 2021

SAP applications are the backbone of business operations across the world. They improve efficiency and help your business grow. But are they equipped to protect your business and data? The risk landscape is constantly evolving, with users working remotely and using personal devices to access enterprise SAP applications.

Since SAP is a critical business application used to access sensitive data and execute high-value transactions by thousands of employees across multiple locations, an effective SAP risk management capability should be an essential element of your security and compliance strategy. Here are the three critical SAP risks that, when not properly mitigated, can lead to a material level control weakness during your external audit that you need to prioritize:

Transaction Risks

Significant risks can occur at the business transaction level if effective controls are not enabled within your SAP applications to prevent or detect these risks. There are multiple scenarios where a lack of transaction-level controls could enhance risk.

  • Duplicate payments may occur because SAP may not be properly configured to detect the unique ID numbers associated with individual payments to prevent a duplicate payment from being created and approved.
  • Excessive payments amounts can occur when the payment amount entered exceeded the actual amount required, and no independent review is required to verify the accuracy and completeness of the data input amount before the payment is finalized.
  • Fraudulent payments can occur when segregation of duty issues exist, enabling the user to create and approve a fake vendor and then be able to create and approve payment to that vendor.

Without the necessary controls, these transactions could lead to misuse of finances, compliance failures, and fraudulent activities. Such risks can be mitigated by implementing security solutions that allow you to define fine-grained rules and policies that can act as checkpoints for even authorized users. Furthermore, consider implementing layers of security and controls to enhance your ability to detect, prevent, and respond to anomalies and threats at the segregation of duty, transaction, and master data level. 

Data Integrity Risks

Data integrity is the assurance of data accuracy and consistency over its entire life-cycle. Data integrity risk is when data stored and processed by IT systems are incomplete, inaccurate, or inconsistent across different IT systems. It is a result of weak or absent IT controls that can verify the accuracy and completeness of data inputs and appropriately restrict access to view, change, or extract the data.

For example, an unauthorized change to financial data stored in SAP can negatively impact the accuracy and completeness of the organization’s financial reports, which is defined as a material level control weakness by external audits. Material level control weaknesses are the worst control deficiency, which the organization must publicly report during the period of occurrence, and can negatively impact the confidence of current and potential investors.

Managing data integrity requires implementing controls that can minimize exposure of sensitive data with dynamic data masking and logging of user activity so that any change to data can be monitored and tracked. Furthermore, consider implementing layers of security and controls to enhance your ability to detect, prevent, and respond to anomalies and to threats at the segregation of duty, transaction, and master data level.

Security Risks

Security risk includes the risk that access to your SAP applications is not appropriately restricted. Native SAP security features provide role-based static access controls that allow users to have unrestricted access based solely on roles and authorizations aligned with those roles. However, the evolving business landscape requires users to access systems from their homes, personal devices, and public Wi-Fi, significantly increasing security risk.

Access has become dynamic, and trust can no longer be implicit, making context-aware access control a necessity for the modern enterprise. For example, access from a foreign country, access to sensitive data beyond business hours, or access from an unknown device or location are potentially risky for any business.

If your SAP access controls do not take context into consideration, your overall risk significantly increases. In simpler terms, the greater awareness of context your system has, the greater your ability to mitigate and manage risk. Furthermore, consider implementing layers of security and controls to enhance your ability to detect, prevent, and respond to anomalies and to threats at the segregation of duty, transaction, and master data level.

SAP Risk Management with Appsian

The Appsian Security Platform enhances SAP’s existing Role-Based Access Controls (RBAC) with Attribute-Based Access Controls (ABAC), allowing you to deploy data-centric security policies that leverage the context of access and enable risk management across your SAP ecosystem. Additionally, it enables you to implement layers of security and controls to enhance your ability to detect, prevent, and respond to anomalies and threats at the segregation of duty, transaction, and master data level.

Click here to get a better understanding of how Appsian can help manage your SAP risk.

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