High-profile network breaches in recent years have impacted the discussion of data security significantly. The ability of institutions to safeguard personal information has come into question, even to the point of government entities enacting new legislation that mandates increased effort towards individual data safety. As current data loss prevention methods are reevaluated, so too will the data security of enterprise software systems have to be.
Enterprise Resource Planning (ERP) solutions act as centralized databases that provide an overview of business-wide operations. An ERP is inherently designed to store integral organizational data, which makes it critical to include this software in any examination of your network integrity. Maintaining data security in your ERP solution is an important component of any cybersecurity strategy.
Here are a few ways to ensure you keep your data secure in your ERP software:
1) Security updates
Your ERP solution’s continued viability relies on keeping the entire system up-to-date. The dynamic natures of software and network security call for regular patch releases to address programming errors and new malware developments. Updates also improve upon the system’s flaws and can add capabilities not present in native versions.
ERP software is extensive, so it may take some time to apply updates to each branch of the system. Unfortunately, the size means that it can also be easy to overlook vulnerabilities hidden among the many files present. Unpatched enterprise-level solutions create a danger of breaches silently affecting a single component and spreading to the rest of the system. That is why every section of your ERP databases, including integrated modules, must be kept up-to-date. Add-ons that handle critical core functions, such as managing financial data, must be thoroughly patched to prevent them being becoming an entryway into your entire system.
Older ERP solutions can be especially vulnerable to external cyber threats because of the difficulty in applying updates to every individual component. Outdated interfaces are easier to exploit and may not be compatible with newer upgrades. In this case, you should consider looking into migrating to a more modern ERP system that includes more state-of-the-art data security features.
External cyber threats are not the only danger to the data stored within your ERP solution; internal blind spots can present significant vulnerabilities, too. Unregulated access allows any individual to interact with the data stored in your enterprise solution, including any sensitive information. Maintaining a clear Segregation of Duties (SoD) when it comes to your ERP system enables you to establish levels of accessibility that makes monitoring user interaction easier.
Modern ERP solutions should allow for you to be able to create tiered user roles that limit access to vetted operators. This prevents individuals without proper authorization from being able to physically manipulate the system and gaining entry to data stored within. Network managers can monitor login information to identify instances of misuse and address any potential internal attacks.
Establishing clear data management roles curtails incidents of noncompliance. Certain regulations require either tight control of specific data or for particular data delivery to determine compliance. This information must be carefully monitored and can only be manipulated by personnel familiar with its function. Unauthorized users may disrupt, damage, or remove sensitive data required to comply with legal requirements, which may cause consequences if discovered during an audit.
If a situation concerning your data integrity does emerge, you will need visibility into your ERP system to be able to address it. Tracking the instance to the source can help determine the cause of the issue, the full extent of any damage, and will help prevent repeat incidents from occurring. Accurate internal reporting provides full traceability for data, as well as prevents having to rely solely on external tools to create reports. Maintaining data through a single system enables you to locate it much more quickly and efficiently.
Internal reporting is also aided by segmented user access controls that restrict unauthorized personnel or outsiders from gaining entry to data. As previously mentioned, attempts to interact with data by users without the required permissions can be monitored to prevent fraud, damage, or theft. Active reporting tools inform data managers of instances of unauthorized data access, which can then be addressed immediately.
Even if you take several preventive measures to protect your ERP system, you may still encounter a problem in the future. In these circumstances, it is imperative to be able to call on support to restore your enterprise software to working order. It is also critical that the support is familiar with the nature of your problem and the specifics of your system to provide the required help.
The level of support you will receive will depend on your vendor. If they are uncommitted to providing continuing technical support or lacks the knowledge to address your pain points, then your system will become vulnerable. You must thoroughly vet your ERP vendor, and if you feel that they are unable to keep your solution protected, then consider contacting a VAR such as SWK with a proven track record of delivering business technology value within your industry.
5) Cloud ERP
Cloud-based software can leverage continuous data connectivity to offer unique opportunities for ERP systems, but also can bring some additional concerns. Enterprise solutions that exist in the cloud bypass some of the standards of traditional models. Users must remain aware of these differences and how they might be exploited to prevent loopholes going unnoticed.
Cloud ERP solutions do provide an advantage in being able to download and implement updates more immediately than traditional software. If you are using a cloud-based model, then you will be able to install updates as fast as they are released. However, this means that you must ensure you keep your system up-to-date in order to benefit.
A potential downside of cloud-based software is that it may allow more open access if not properly monitored. This also brings the added danger of potentially violating regional privacy regulations if data is not actively monitored and secured. The well-being of the data within a cloud-based model for an ERP solution depends on maintaining strict internal cybersecurity procedures and working with a system that follows best practices in data protection guidelines.
The growing role of data security
Digital data is playing a growing role in several industries that rely on their analytics to address potential bottlenecks and improve innovation. Digitization is enabling businesses to respond faster to customer inquiries and supply demands, which would not be possible without access to secure, real-time data. As sectors like manufacturing move towards more individualized models, this reliance on data in delivering improved value will only increase and so too will the necessity of data security.