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Access Violation Management in SAP ERP: Mitigating Risks

June 4, 2024

by

Jens Kettler

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SAPCompliance

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SAPsecurity

Access Violation Management (AVM) is a critical component of maintaining the integrity and security of an SAP ERP system. AVM focuses on monitoring and mitigating residual access risks by managing single actions and ensuring compliance with Segregation of Duties (SoD) principles. This blog outlines the fundamentals of AVM, the associated risks, and the importance of ongoing monitoring, especially using tools like remQ.

1. What is Access Violation Management?

Access Violation Management involves identifying, monitoring, and mitigating risks related to unauthorized or inappropriate access within an ERP system. It encompasses managing single actions, enforcing SoD, and implementing compensating controls such as the digital 4-eyes principle when the authorization concept is insufficient.

2. Risks Associated with Access Violations

The primary risks of inadequate access management include:

  • Fraud and Theft: Unauthorized access can lead to financial fraud and theft. We have provided examples where missing AVM has enabled fraud and significant losses in other blogs (e.g. https://www.voquzlabs.com/blog/4-high-profile-cases-of-insider-fraud-revealed)
  • Data Manipulation: Users with excessive permissions might manipulate data to their advantage. An example is a salesperson changing payment terms, discounts, prices, or similar, to realize revenue to boost his bonus.
  • Operational Disruption: Unchecked access can cause operational inefficiencies or unintentional disruptions.
  • Non-Compliance: Failure to adhere to regulatory requirements can result in hefty fines and legal issues.
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3. Reasons for Excessive Authorizations

Several factors contribute to users having excessive authorizations, which violate SoD rules or critical function access without a 4-eyes principle:

  • Poorly Maintained Authorization Concepts: Outdated or poorly designed authorization models.
  • Business Requirements: Business needs may necessitate additional authorizations temporarily or permanently.
  • Technical Limitations: Some actions in SAP inherently lack the ability to enforce certain access controls, like the 4-eyes principle.
  • Unwarranted Assignments: Mismanagement or intentional assignment of excessive permissions.

4. Levels of SoD Analysis

SoD analysis can be approached at different levels to ensure comprehensive risk management:

  • Authorization-Level Analysis: Identifies users who have access to conflicting transactions. It is a CAN DO analysis, not checking whether access was used. SAP GRC Access Control is on this level.
  • Transaction Started-Level Analysis: Assesses T-Codes executed, so more detailed than CAN DO analysis, but only checks on transaction level, but not whether documents were created/changed.
  • Document-Level Analysis: Monitors whether users created/changed certain documents. Does NOT account for details like creating a vendor and entering an invoice for the SAME vendor. Creates many false positives.
  • Same Document-Level Analysis: Most detailed analysis on document level, for example, only cases where a vendor was created and an invoice for the SAME vendor was entered. No real false positives in the sense that these are really risky activities that should be reviewed. Also the lowest number of results, only very relevant cases. remQ works on this level.
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5. Why Monitoring is Preferable

Monitoring access violations is often more practical and cost-effective than attempting to establish a flawless authorization concept, which is typically unfeasible due to dynamic business requirements and technical constraints. Continuous monitoring allows for:

  • Real-Time Detection: Immediate identification of access violations.
  • Proactive Risk Management: Addressing potential risks before they result in significant issues.
  • Cost Efficiency: Reducing the need for extensive reauthorization processes and audits.

6. How Monitoring Works Technically

Technical monitoring involves:

  • Automated Controls: Tools that perform real-time checks and maintain an audit trail of access activities.
  • Utilizing built-in functionalities like accessing data in tables and changing documents (transaction SE16 and report RSSCD100 if you want to do this manually) to track changes and create comprehensive reports.
  • Digital 4-Eyes Principle: Implementing automated workflows to ensure critical actions are approved by multiple users.
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Tablet showing the cover page of the document

7. Leveraging remQ for AVM

remQ enhances access violation management by:

  • Pre-Built Controls: Offering a set of ready-to-use controls for common SoD violations.
  • No-Code Controls Builder: Allowing users to create custom checks without requiring programming skills. - Real-Time Monitoring: Providing real-time analysis and alerts for potential access violations.
  • Actions: can block business partners, documents, etc. to stop risky processes until reviewed and approved
  • Comprehensive Reporting: Delivering detailed reports to facilitate audits and compliance checks.

Conclusion

Access violation management is essential for safeguarding the integrity of SAP ERP systems. By leveraging advanced tools like remQ, organizations can effectively monitor and mitigate access risks, ensuring compliance and protecting against fraud and operational disruptions. Talk to us!

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Jens Kettler

Jens has 20+ years of experience in SAP security, compliance and internal controls. He is an ex-auditor, always curious, willing to learn and to share knowledge. At VOQUZ Labs Jens is responsible for our risk and compliance products. He enjoys interacting with customers and finding quick and simple ways to improve our products to deliver value to customers. Pragmatic and customer-focused? Then Jens :)

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