In the past few years, organizations have seen a constant increase in cyberattacks targeting business-critical applications and the data within because that data is particularly lucrative to sell or trade. Organizations running SAP software, especially, are struggling, as SAP systems are complex and hard to patch—even worse, information security and cybersecurity teams often don’t understand SAP systems and how to secure them. Traditional security approaches aren’t enough to secure SAP systems, but DevSecOps for SAP could introduce a new approach with better results.
What is DevSecOps?
While traditional security often becomes a roadblock to accelerated software delivery. DevSecOps introduces a new security-first mindset that emphasizes security at every step of the software development life cycle and makes everyone in the organization responsible for security.
DevSecOps includes all departments of an organization and embeds security thinking into the entire process, from the executive board down to individual teams. To make this successful, business operators need tools and processes that support:
- Continuous monitoring
- Scanning for security defects
- Attack detection
- Change management and governance
- Regular assessments
Why is DevSecOps for SAP Changing the Game?
In the past, security was often neglected while implementing new projects or new feature releases under the assumption that security defects would be resolved later in an existing system by the information security team. This approach, however, introduced additional complexity, costs and business disruption.
If security considerations are introduced in an earlier phase of a project, security defects can be identified and remediated much more cheaply and quickly. This alone makes it far more efficient and easier to resolve a potentially exploitable vulnerability. With good tools in place, this becomes very efficient and allows organizations to identify and resolve vulnerabilities that have been introduced in earlier iterations of their change processes.
The biggest benefit, however, is that any new process or feature has been implemented with security by design, leading to a resilient environment that can more easily fend off cyberattacks.
DevSecOps for SAP
Here’s an example: Say a new business project is started with the intent to change SAP applications or processes to introduce new functionality. Like with any project, time, budget and available resources are key elements. For DevSecOps to work, important security considerations must be made in early phases of the project. In reality, every single project is a security project. This means that business requirements and targets must not be prioritized over security concerns. Processes and tools are needed to enable development and security teams to work together to answer important questions: Will the project introduce a security impact to contained data and established processes? Similarly, is there a need for additional software and security architecture, or is a specific skill set required that needs to be onboarded to the project?
In an agile environment, once all epics and user stories have been written, the design phase can start. With a security mindset embedded into the project, this will automatically lead to a solution that is secure by design.
During the implementation phase, developers need tools to scan for potentially vulnerable source code.
Identifying vulnerabilities that allow SQL injection, cross-site scripting or missing authorization checks early on in the development process makes it easier to fix them.
The challenge here is that SAP does not provide the tools developers need to validate source code for security flaws. The SAP transport management system is vulnerable to software supply chain attacks unless appropriate security patches have been installed. For this reason, organizations need a code vulnerability analyzer that can be integrated within the SAP standard development IDE.
In addition, quality gates enabled in the SAP transport management system can be very helpful for developers to avoid source code that lacks proper security validation.
Functional issues discovered in the user acceptance test (UAT) phase must also trigger a restart of the validation cycle. Only when all security and functional requirements are met can production deployment be initiated. In this phase of the life cycle, DevSecOps for SAP focuses on monitoring to enable attack detection, regular (or better continuous) vulnerability assessments and accurate security patching.
Which Tools are Needed to Introduce DevSecOps for SAP?
While many organizations already make use of change management and IT service management solutions, they do not yet have all the tools needed to embark on a DevSecOps journey with SAP.
Keep in mind there are platforms available on the market with an open API that allows integration within already established SAP solutions and provides the missing link between change management and security incident management. These solutions provide a one-stop-shop to securing SAP and reduce TCO compared to individual siloed tools for code scanning and vulnerability management.