Cloud ERP and cybersecurity

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Cloud ERP Data is a business asset. And in the digital age, it is essential for every company to become data-driven. Data is what turns insight into innovation and volume into value and that makes it powerful. In fact, it was Sir Tim Berners-Lee, the inventor of the World Wide Web, who said: “data is a precious thing and will last longer than the systems themselves.”

Today, a manufacturing or distribution business’s data has become as invaluable as the crown jewels, kept safe by the Tower of London, or in this case by a highly integrated Cloud ERP system. Bring down The Tower of London and you could cripple a business from running its day-to-day functions. As a critical business tool, ERP systems are under attack. They provide the perfect sabotage possibilities, either by gaining access to client data, financial records, logistics, bank details or changing payment instructions. Attacks have also moved from individuals with malicious intent to organized groups with state-of-the-art skills and tools whereby the threat is growing faster and at an exponential rate.

In order to keep up with security challenges, businesses are turning to cloud-based ERP systems. The cloud is inherently simpler to secure for a number of reasons, the first being physical – a normal computer sitting somewhere can be accessed, damaged or even stolen. Secondly, a number of security breaches occur because of outdated networks or systems within data centres. These become prime attack vectors due to legacy systems or inherent complexity which provides weaknesses that can be exploited. Legacy systems typically require specialist skillsets, compliance, and routine maintenance to keep them secure and this is often underfunded (or overlooked) by already strained IT divisions.

The complexity of compliance with Cloud ERP

Being in cloud, however, means there are common blueprints, agreed frameworks, providing a simpler architecture and benefits from scalable protection.  Cloud-based ERP can also bring the simplification of IT landscapes with less infrastructure overheads and this results in additional flexibility and cost savings, reduced risk and simpler disaster recovery. Businesses are also using cloud migration as a way to leverage compliance with certain regulations and data sovereignty rules.

There are many security frameworks to consider, including governance, architecture, standards and cybersecurity. Looking at cybersecurity specially, the three best known are ISO 27001, NIST and CIS. While these certifications can be a massive undertaking for any business, they provide a generally accepted set of controls that both service providers and customers can aim for when during evaluation.

How much cybersecurity do you need for Cloud EPR?

The simple answer to “how much cybersecurity do I need?” is that there is never enough. This is why zero trust is a necessary security approach in today’s world. Historically, there was a binary way in which we worked – we gave access to devices and users within the network and built a huge barrier to keep everything else out. Trust was based on the divide between internal vs. external. However, when you consider the modern world of remote work, the Internet of Things (IoT), and digital ecosystems, a new approach was needed to allow for mobility and flexibility without compromising security. In principle that starts with trusting nothing, until its verified, and continuously validating the identity and privileges of users and devices. Furthermore, preventative measures and controls are added to continuously monitor for malicious activities. Zero trust is critical for any ERP system because of how distributed the endpoints, far reaching data and services can extend, from factory floors to POS devices and even field workers.

The expanding role of the CISO

With zero trust, the assumption is that attacks can come from anywhere. While the role of chief information security officer (CISO) used to centre around two things – building a bigger firewall and saying no to anything new – today they’re tasked with protecting the crown jewels without boundaries. Look at IoT – there are more endpoints to be hacked than ever before. Hybrid employees are choosing to work from anywhere, using any device, and as a result, social engineering is on the rise. Today’s CISO should be more concerned with implementing a culture of security, as inherently people have a low aptitude for information security and therefore remain the highest risk.

Staying relevant, keeping safe with Cloud ERP

Emails remain the biggest attack vector for cybercriminals and considering that many manufacturing and distribution businesses still run manual interventions and emails, the risk of a breach is high. As companies generate more and more disparate, distributed data sets, the data should not just be used to fill databases or compliance tick boxes – it is the life blood of modern businesses. From managing core functions to responding to customer needs, to controls and governance, and predicting market trends – all of this can be tainted if the data is compromised.

Therefore, it is critical for manufacturers and distributors to automate their businesses, with the first step to digital transformation being a cloud-based ERP system as the evolution of infrastructure. In the times of artificial intelligence (AI), hyper automation and machine learning (ML), companies need to design with cyber security first, continuously defending against threats, monitoring for anomalies, and then responding to incidents when they occur. The problem for many businesses is how to fund and build this capability, especially for small to medium businesses sometimes without enterprise scalability.

Accelerated digital adoption has put cybersecurity at the top of the agenda and with ERP – like all digitized processes – the threat of cybercrime is ever-present.  Cybersecurity is critical component of every digital business looking to protect their data landscape and ERP systems are among the most important because they are, essentially, the operating system of a company and shouldn’t be underestimated. Yes, it can be daunting, but the right cloud-based ERP system will protect the most valuable data your company houses from getting into the wrong hands.

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