Nine out of ten organizations are to a 13-year-old flaw that puts their most business systems at risk of complete criminal takeover.

A new report out today shows that 90% of SAP systems in the enterprise are exposed to complete system compromise via a 13-year-old configuration vulnerability that few organizations have taken action on. This exposure puts business-critical systems like ERP, HR, finance and supply chain all at risk.

Detailed in a report published today by ERP firm Onapsis, the flaw in question is a configuration problem in SAP NetWeaver that makes it possible for a remote unauthenticated attacker with only network access to the system to claw out unrestricted access to all SAP systems. While the potential scenario is not completely trivial – it requires the attacker to have knowledge of SAP’s architecture and coding standards – it’s also not difficult to carry out either. And the payoff is big. 

As the underlying platform for all SAP deployments, SAP NetWeaver is used by 378,000 customers worldwide, including 87% of the Global 2000. The configuration insecurity is present by default in all versions of SAP NetWeaver, including cloud and next-generation digital business suite S/4HANA.

“It’s not something that organizations need to – it’s something that they need to change in their actual SAP implementation,” explains JP Perez-Etchegoyen, CTO at Onapsis.  “Basically this is a configuration setting in SAP applications that is configured wide open by default. It was well documented in 2005, but we still find it in nine out of 10 SAP implementations today.”

The insecurity makes it possible for an attacker to register a rogue application server and start receiving client connections from the SAP system, basically pretending to be a part of the trusted application servers that make up an impacted organization’s SAP ecosystem.

“Typically, organizations have their existing implementation in a flat network, meaning that all the SAP services are available and reachable,” Perez-Etchegoyen explains. “So this will allow an attacker without username and password to basically access all the information stored and processed within the system.”

These kind of systems are a treasure trove for corporate espionage, theft and any other kind of cyber grift imaginable. The digital assets at stake include detailed information about vendors, customers, financial records and detailed operational blue prints. What’s more, it’s not just privacy or confidentiality that’s at stake. The integrity of the entire system is put at risk, as an attacker could easily enough start generating fake P.O.s to themselves, manipulate or even completely sabotage the nerve center of an enterprise’s business critical systems by taking the system down.

“They can access the data, modify the data, pretty much anything they want,” he says. “In the biggest organizations in the world, pretty much all of the business processes are supported by SAP and pretty much the most important information is stored there. We do believe that this is a very big risk that needs to be addressed.”

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Ericka Chickowski specializes in coverage of information and business innovation. She has focused on information security for the better part of a decade and regularly writes about the security industry as a contributor to Dark Reading.  View Full Bio

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