These 3 ERP Security Features Will Protect Your Manufacturing Data

By: Zach Hale on July 15, 2019

If data is the lifeblood your business—and cyberattacks an infection—ERP security features are, well, the white blood cells.

Businesses, especially those in the manufacturing sector, depend on ERP software to streamline disparate processes from across the organization. Yet all that sensitive information—blueprints, copyrights, financial data—means ERP systems are an ideal target for cybercriminals.

Don’t blame that on the software, though. With an array of features designed to safeguard the “crown jewels” of your business, an ERP system can be an effective deterrent against even the most malicious attacks—as long as you know how to use it.

To reduce the likelihood of breaches and cyberattacks, manufacturers should make use of the following ERP security features:

Access control

Distribute permissions, review user access, and automate rights-related processes.

IoT endpoint security

Maintain equipment inventory, segregate devices, and analyze network traffic.

Compliance management

Enforce regulatory compliance, track and verify transactions, and conduct regular data audits.

Let’s take a closer look at how these features work—and why they’re essential for ERP security.

Eliminate internal threats with ERP access control

To shield your ERP data from external forces, you must protect it from within.

This applies to more than just ill-intentioned employees, who are a real but rare threat. Much more common are unauthorized or insufficiently trained ERP users, who are prone to careless mistakes and data mismanagement—the consequences of which can devastate a business.

Fortunately, most modern ERP systems have built-in access control functionality, empowering manufacturers to allocate user access to those who need it while restricting it from those who don’t.

With ERP access control, system administrators can:

  • Distribute permissions. Not all ERP users are the same, with needs and responsibilities that vary widely across the organization. Access should therefore vary based on user roles, permission levels, and document types.

  • Review user access. As real-life roles and responsibilities change, so too should ERP access. Require managers to periodically verify permissions and grant or revoke access as job functions change.

  • Automate access controls. Automation is rampant throughout modern ERP software—and access control is no exception. Depending on the task, an ERP can instantly notify stakeholders of critical updates with minimal disruption to your workflow.

Safeguard data with IoT endpoint security features

The internet of things (IoT) casts a wide web. As smartphones and cloud computing proliferate, our devices intertwine to facilitate instant communication and real-time access to data. These accessibility and efficiency boosts are great for businesses—that is, until they aren’t.

A 2018 Gartner survey found that, in the last three years alone, almost 20% of organizations have been on the wrong end of an IoT-based cyberattack. The same study projects the number of IoT connections to grow exponentially in the coming years, surpassing the 25 billion mark by 2025. Given our ever-increasing reliance on this technology, we can deduce that these incidents will only become more prevalent.

That shouldn’t deter you from integrating these technologies; however, nor should you have buyer’s remorse for that sleek new cloud-based ERP you just bought. But you should do everything in your power to protect your investment—and that includes securing all ERP endpoints.

To reduce the risk associated with IoT endpoint security, manufacturers should:

  • Create an inventory of devices. You haven’t experienced true terror until you’ve lost track of company equipment—especially equipment containing ERP data. Should this occur, a device inventory will keep you apprised of where your equipment is and who is responsible for it.

  • Segregate devices. In the event of an IoT-based attack, it’s critical that the perpetrator not have access to your primary server. Segregating IoT devices behind a boundary or firewall will help keep the core system secure.

  • Analyze network traffic. Keeping tabs on who accesses your network—and where they’re accessing it from—makes it easier to detect suspicious activity. Early detection of such anomalies will make them easier to thwart.

Instill security best practices with compliance management

When you think about ERP security, regulatory compliance probably isn’t top of mind. But compliance features can have a profound impact—whether directly or indirectly—on the security of your data.

Think of it this way: By protecting the best interest of consumers (in this case, their data security), regulations instill privacy best practices that also protect the business.

With ERP’s compliance management, manufacturers can:

  • Enforce compliance with national and international regulations. Between waste reduction, shop floor safety, and other industry-specific guidelines, a number of manufacturing-focused ERPs have regulatory standards built directly into the system. Even in non-automated processes, enforcing this degree of transparency throughout all business functions increases visibility into the health and security of your data.

  • Track and verify transactions. Unauthorized transactions, even by authorized users, are risky business. Segregating duties among seniority levels and requiring electronic signatures will ensure that a transaction won’t process until verified by a third party.

  • Perform regular data audits. With ERP software, manufacturers can automate the auditing process and produce lengthy audit trails. These records help businesses keep tabs on all their transactions and log user access, making it easier to identify and resolve any suspicious activity.

Next steps: Address the issue now, before it’s too late

Now that you know which ERP security features you need, it’s time to put that knowledge into action. Don’t know where to start? Don’t sweat it; we’ve got you covered.

Here’s what we recommend doing right this very second (or at least as soon as possible) to secure your manufacturing data:

  • Take stock of your ERP security. Is your business a recent cyberattack victim? Does your current ERP system have the features listed above? Are you utilizing them to their fullest extent? Before taking action, it’s important to ask these questions and assess your current standing within the ERP security hierarchy.

  • Consult business leaders. Once you’ve identified your vulnerabilities and opportunities, sit down for a face-to-face chat with the leaders of your business. Hash out your short- and long-term objectives, as well as any budgetary considerations, and you can start to identify the most plausible solutions for your organization.

  • Find the right software for your business. If you’re happy with your ERP software, that’s great! But if you’ve gotten this far in the article, we’re guessing you’re open to exploring your options—in which case, we’re happy to help. You can start by perusing our list of ERP software vendors with real reviews from verified users. And if you’re still on the fence, or if you have any lingering questions, give us a ring for a free, no-obligation phone consultation at (855) 998-8505.