SAP pushes out 'significant' patch update

The major update affects SAP Business Suite and NetWeaver

SAP released a "significant number" of security patches for its Business Suite applications and NetWeaver middleware platform on Tuesday, following an "extensive scan of 280 million lines of coding with new, enhanced code scan tools," according to the company.

The rollout was part of SAP's regular monthly patch day, spokesman Andy Kendzie said Wednesday.

SAP has been taking additional measures to improve the security of its software in light of increased cybercrime attacks against businesses, the company said. Those heightened efforts prompted the size of the security update, according to SAP.

A white paper is available to help customers install the fixes, SAP said. In addition, many of them "can be implemented automatically with SAP Note Assistant as well as various service offerings from SAP Active Global Support, including SAP EarlyWatch Alert and SAP Security Optimization Services," it adds. Support teams are on standby as well.

Additional details on the patches, including the precise number released and the nature of the vulnerabilities, were not available Wednesday.

SAP customers can get such information and patches through the SAP Service Marketplace site, which is password-protected.

Other vendors, including SAP rival Oracle, provide fairly detailed information about security patches on their public websites, although the patches themselves are behind a firewall.

SAP tries to "communicate with customers directly and transparently" regarding security issues, the company said in a statement.

Customers can get e-mail notifications for security patches, as well as name a security contact person. "In important cases, SAP can push information directly to the affected customer groups," the statement added. "This channel is rarely used, but for this patch day SAP decided to notify the security contacts of the affected customers in addition to the information available at the SAP Service Marketplace."

One security expert had no quarrel with SAP's policy.

"As long as any legitimate SAP customer can be expected to learn about these patches, and can acquire them at no cost to their organization, I don't really have a large problem with SAP's approach," said security researcher Dan Kaminsky via e-mail.

SAP should even be congratulated, as it "sounds like they're finally hacking away at a significant backlog of easy to find, high-severity vulnerabilities," he added. "Now, would more transparency be better? Sure. But walk before run."

Chris Kanaracus covers enterprise software and general technology breaking news for The IDG News Service. Chris's e-mail address is Chris_Kanaracus@idg.com

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