ERP Applications Coming Under Increasing Attack

New research from Onapsis and Digital Shadows reveals that attackers are making use of known vulnerabilities to exploit business-critical applications.

ERP security

Enterprise resource planning (ERP) applications are critical to the operations of many organizations but are increasingly coming under attack, according to a new report.

The 30-page ERP Applications Under Fire report was released on July 25 as a joint effort from Onapsis and Digital Shadows. Among the high-level findings in the report is that there has been a 100 percent increase in the number of publicly available exploits for ERP applications over the past three years.

Those exploits are not going unused either, with the researchers uncovering multiple campaigns against ERP systems. While there are zero-day vulnerabilities that are reported in ERP systems, the report found that most of the attacks exploit unpatched systems, as well as systems that have insecure configurations.

"We found evidence of more than 20 campaigns targeting ERP applications in different ways," Juan Perez-Etchegoyen, CTO of Onapsis, told eWEEK. "We saw that there is a 160 percent increase from 2016 to 2017 specifically around dark web forum mentions of SAP CVEs, which have an exploit available."

Onapsis is in the business of providing security protection for business-critical applications, including ERP apps. Back on April 26, the company revealed a 13-year-old vulnerability in SAP that could expose all SAP implementations to exploitation by attackers. Digital Shadows on the other hand is a threat intelligence firm that has a specific focus on understanding hacker activities.

Among the ERP attacks that the researchers uncovered were at least nine operations that are linked to hacktivist groups, including the Anonymous collective. There is also evidence that nation-state backed attackers have been involved in efforts to exploit ERP systems as well.

Another core issue identified in the report is the fact that there are at least 17,000 SAP and Oracle ERP applications that are directly connected and discoverable over the public internet. While not all of the of publicly discoverable applications are vulnerable, the fact that they can be easily found by attackers is a risk. In addition, the researchers found at least 500 SAP configuration files left open in unsecured file repositories. Those configuration files could potentially be exploited by attackers to gain access to systems.

"I think we were fairly surprised with how many campaigns we could publicly see that were targeting SAP applications," Michael Marriott, research analyst at Digital Shadows, told eWEEK.

In one of the campaigns, Marriott found that a default password was being used for an SAP HANA database that attackers were able to exploit. The research also found a link between the Dridex banking trojan and attacks on ERP systems.

"What we have seen with Dridex is that it is increasingly looking to harvest SAP login information credentials," Marriott said.

While attackers have been increasingly going after ERP in the last year, Perez-Etchegoyen doesn't expect that trend to slow down any time soon.

"Attackers will continue targeting ERP applications and will continue to leverage well-known exploits," Perez-Etchegoyen said. "Until organizations really get to a maturity level, where their systems are up-to-date and known risks are tackled, it's just a matter of time until they are attacked."

Sean Michael Kerner is a senior editor at eWEEK and Follow him on Twitter @TechJournalist.

Sean Michael Kerner

Sean Michael Kerner

Sean Michael Kerner is an Internet consultant, strategist, and contributor to several leading IT business web sites.