Security Experts:

Five-year-old SAP Vulnerability Haunts Global Businesses

Security researchers are seeing evidence that up to 36 global organizations have been hacked via exploits against a vulnerability in SAP Business Applications that was patched more than five years ago.

The vulnerability, patched by SAP in 2010, exists in the built-in functionality in SAP NetWeaver Application Server Java systems (SAP Java platforms).

According to Boston, Mass.-based Onapsis, there are indicators of exploitation against 36 large-scale global enterprises around the world.

Onapsis declined to identify the compromised organizations but noted they are located in, or are co-owned by corporations in the United States, United Kingdom, Germany, China, India, Japan, and South Korea, and span a number of industries including oil & gas, telecommunications, utilities, retail, automotive and steel manufacturing. 

The company said initial signs of the exploitation were publicly disclosed during 2013-2016 at a digital forum registered in China. 

“In early 2016, we became aware of this issue after we noticed common similarities within the results of initial Onapsis Security Platform scans at SAP customers, together with indicators of compromise found at SAP forensics & incident response engagements. The Onapsis Research Labs decided to dig deeper into this topic and realized that public information about these exploitations had been sitting in the public domain for several years,” Onapsis said.

“We also believe it is critical for the broader information security community to be aware of business application security risks, as this situation clearly illustrates the prevailing lack of visibility and governance over these type of applications.”

The US Computer Emergency Readiness Team (US-CERT) issued a separate alert to warn that the hacking indicators relate to the abuse of the Invoker Servlet, a built-in functionality in SAP NetWeaver Application Server Java systems (SAP Java platforms).

“The Invoker Servlet contains a vulnerability that was patched by SAP in 2010. However, the vulnerability continues to affect outdated and misconfigured SAP systems,” US-CERT warned.

The exploit against this already-patch vulnerability gives unauthenticated remote attackers full access to affected SAP platforms, providing complete control of the business information and processes on these systems, as well as potential access to other systems.

In order to exploit this vulnerability, an attacker only needs a Web browser and the domain/hostname/IP address of the target SAP system.

The following list includes some of the SAP business solutions and technical components that may be affected if their underlying SAP Java platforms have not been properly secured:

  • SAP Enterprise Resource Planning (ERP)
  • SAP Product Life-cycle Management (PLM)
  • SAP Customer Relationship Management (CRM)
  • SAP Supply Chain Management (SCM)
  • SAP Supplier Relationship Management (SRM)
  • SAP Enterprise Portal (EP)
  • SAP Process Integration (PI)
  • SAP Exchange Infrastructure (XI)
  • SAP Solution Manager (SolMan)
  • SAP NetWeaver Business Warehouse (BW)
  • SAP Business Intelligence (BI)
  • SAP NetWeaver Mobile Infrastructure (MI)
  • SAP NetWeaver Development Infrastructure (NWDI)
  • SAP Central Process Scheduling (CPS)
  • SAP NetWeaver Composition Environment (CE)
  • SAP NetWeaver Enterprise Search
  • SAP NetWeaver Identity Management (IdM)
  • SAP Governance, Risk & Control 5.x (GRC)

SAP on Tuesday issued a new round of monthly security updates for its products, patching a total of 10 vulnerabilities, including critical flaws in ASE XPServer, Crystal Reports for Enterprise, and Predictive Analytics.

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Ryan Naraine is Editor-at-Large at SecurityWeek and host of the popular Security Conversations podcast series. Ryan is a veteran cybersecurity strategist who has built security engagement programs at major global brands, including Intel Corp., Bishop Fox and Kaspersky GReAT. He is a co-founder of Threatpost and the global SAS conference series. Ryan's past career as a security journalist included bylines at major technology publications including Ziff Davis eWEEK, CBS Interactive's ZDNet, PCMag and PC World. Ryan is a director of the Security Tinkerers non-profit, an advisor to early-stage entrepreneurs, and a regular speaker at security conferences around the world. Follow Ryan on Twitter @ryanaraine.