Press Release

Ponemon Institute Study Reveals Risk of SAP Cyber Breaches Vastly Underestimated by C-Suite

Survey data demonstrates perception gap between senior leadership and security professionals regarding current preparedness and potential impact of breaches

TRAVERSE CITY, Mich., and BOSTON, Mass., February 24, 2016 – Ponemon Institute , today released the results of the industry’s first research survey on SAP cybersecurity, sponsored by Onapsis, demonstrating that more than half of companies surveyed, 56 percent, believe it is likely their company would have a data breach due to insecure SAP applications. This same group indicates their company’s SAP platform has been breached an average of two times in the past 24 months, yet 63 percent indicate C-level executives tend to underestimate the risks associated with insecure SAP applications, the systems that run the most critical business operations and data for Global 2000 organizations.

This perception gap is furthered by the limited visibility organizations have into the security of SAP applications and many do not have the required expertise to quickly prevent, detect and respond to cyber attacks – a problem which 60 percent of respondents say would be catastrophic or very serious and could lead to $4.5M average cost if systems are taken offline.

“One of the big surprises in this study is this swell of silent breaches that are increasingly hitting organizations which are difficult to detect, and materially impact businesses and the overall economy,” said Dr. Larry Ponemon, chairman and founder, Ponemon Institute. “Worryingly, while survey data indicates SAP breaches are expected to increase, there is no single group or job function most accountable. It appears that SAP cybersecurity is falling through the cracks between the SAP security teams and InfoSec teams, who need to step up to bridge the gap and make it a priority.”

The survey data indicates that senior leadership values the importance of SAP to the bottom line but ignores its cybersecurity risks: Seventy-six percent of respondents say their senior leadership understands the importance and criticality of SAP installations to profitability. However, only 21 percent of respondents say their leaders recognize SAP cybersecurity risks.

With over 600 qualified respondents, the research titled “Uncovering the Risks of SAP Cyber Breaches” is the first significant study of both IT and InfoSec professionals tasked with protecting the SAP systems that house their organization’s crown jewels.

“While the industry is starting to understand the impact facing the value of the data that could be lost from their SAP system due to a data breach or cyberattack, the attack surface is increasing rapidly with new technologies like IoT, mobile and cloud,” said Mariano Nunez, CEO of Onapsis. “Clear delineation of responsibility and the use of third party tools to integrate teams, establish processes and operationalize the prevention and detection of SAP vulnerabilities is becoming a priority to avoid significant economic impacts.”

Other key takeaways include:

  • Are SAP platforms likely to contain malware? Seventy-five percent of respondents say it is very likely (33 percent) or likely (42 percent) SAP platforms have one or more malware infections.
  • How long would it take to detect a breach? There is little confidence a breach involving the SAP platform would be detected immediately or within one week. In fact nearly 100 percent of participants believed they could not detect an SAP breach immediately. Even a year later, 78 percent of respondents believed they could not detect an SAP breach.
  • Who is responsible for SAP security? Respondents believe it is the responsibility of SAP, not their company, to ensure the security of its applications and platform, according to 54 percent of respondents. Internally, the SAP security team is seldom accountable for the security of SAP systems: Twenty-five percent of respondents say no one function is most accountable for SAP security in their organizations followed by IT infrastructure (21 percent), SAP security team (19 percent), and information security (18 percent).
  • Who would be blamed if a data breach involving the SAP system occurred? Thirty percent of respondents say no one is most accountable if their organization had a SAP breach followed by the CIO (26 percent of respondents) and the CISO (18 percent of respondents).
  • What is the impact of IoT and other new technologies? Fifty-nine percent of respondents believe new technologies and trends such as cloud, mobile, big data and the Internet of Things increases the attack surface of their SAP applications.
  • What can organizations do to improve their SAP cybersecurity posture? Seventy-three percent of respondents say knowledge about the latest threats and vulnerabilities affecting SAP applications improves their organization’s ability to manage cybersecurity risks. Certain practices are also very important to achieving security in the SAP infrastructure:
    • Eighty-three percent of respondents say it is very important to be able to detect zero-day vulnerabilities in SAP applications.
    • Eighty-one percent say the ability to prioritize threats against SAP applications based on when the attack is likely to succeed.
    • Eighty-one percent say it is very important to have continuous monitoring in order to ensure SAP applications are safe and secure.

The full report is available for download here:

On Thursday, March 24, Onapsis and Ponemon Institute will host a webcast to further discuss the study findings. To register, please visit:

About The Ponemon Institute

The Ponemon Institute© is dedicated to advancing responsible information and privacy management practices in business and government. To achieve this objective, the Institute conducts independent research, educates leaders from the private and public sectors and verifies the privacy and data protection practices of organizations in a variety of industries.


About Onapsis

Onapsis provides the most comprehensive solutions for securing SAP and Oracle business-critical applications. As the leading experts in SAP and Oracle cybersecurity, Onapsis enables security and audit teams to have visibility, confidence and control of advanced threats, cyber risks and compliance gaps affecting their enterprise applications.

Headquartered in Boston, Onapsis serves over 200 Global 2000 customers, including 10 top retailers, 20 top energy firms and 20 top manufacturers. Onapsis’ solutions are also the de-facto standard for leading consulting and audit firms such as Accenture, IBM, Deloitte, E&Y, KPMG and PwC.

Onapsis solutions include the Onapsis Security Platform (OSP), which is the most widely used SAP-certified cybersecurity solution in the market. Unlike generic security products, Onapsis’ context-aware solutions deliver preventative vulnerability and compliance controls, as well as real-time detection and incident response capabilities to reduce risks affecting critical business processes and data. Through open interfaces, the platform can be integrated with leading SIEM, GRC and network security products, seamlessly incorporating enterprise applications into existing vulnerability, risk and incident response management programs.

These solutions are powered by the Onapsis Research Labs™, which continuously provide leading intelligence on security threats affecting SAP and Oracle enterprise applications. Experts of the Onapsis Research Labs were the first to lecture on SAP cyberattacks and have uncovered and helped fix hundreds of security vulnerabilities to date affecting SAP Business Suite, SAP HANA, SAP Cloud and SAP Mobile applications, as well as Oracle JD Edwards and Oracle E-Business Suite platforms.

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Onapsis and Onapsis Research Labs are registered trademarks of Onapsis, Inc. All other company or product names may be the registered trademarks of their respective owners.