What exactly is SaaS Security?
Many organizations have multi-cloud setups, with the average corporation employing services from at least five cloud providers. Compatibility problems, contract breaches, non-secured APIs, and misconfigurations are among the security hazards cloud computing brings, which is popular.
SaaS configurations are an attractive target for cybercriminals because they store a large amount of sensitive data, such as payment card details and personal information. Consequently, enterprises need to emphasize the importance of SaaS security.
SaaS security includes techniques companies use to secure their assets while employing SaaS architecture. According to the UK’s National Cyber Security Centre (NCSC), SaaS security rules, the client and the service provider or software distributor must share security responsibilities. Moreover, service providers offer SaaS Security Posture Management (SSPM) solutions that automate and manage SaaS security.
As SaaS usage and adoption continue to increase, so does the SaaS security problem. The top SaaS security issues are misconfigurations, access management, compliance, data storage, retention, privacy and data breaches, and disaster recovery.
It is easy to believe that protecting SaaS only prevents users from accessing the internet. However, securing SaaS usage is far more challenging than it initially appears.
The fact is that there is no universal, all-encompassing SaaS security checklist. Businesses vary; they perform distinct tasks, operate differently, and have specific needs. Check out this article by Zluri.
Why is SaaS Security a priority?
Many firms are familiar with IaaS and PaaS security threats. IT and security teams frequently communicate through linked business processes and applications. IaaS and PaaS management and security technologies are also widespread.
SaaS security can safeguard a corporation from cyberattacks and data leaks. Any SaaS company should take security precautions to secure its data, assets, and reputation.
SaaS programs work differently and provide advantages to businesses. However, they can be more difficult to administer from a security standpoint:
The design of SaaS applications supports a range of teams inside a business. For example, Record systems are utilized for client data by sales teams, source code by development teams, and HR information by HR teams. Such SaaS apps are typically used regularly by many end-users with varying degrees of technical expertise. SaaS apps are challenging to understand due to their volume and complexity.
There is limited communication between security teams and the business administrators who pick and manage new SaaS technology. Limited team contact makes it more challenging for security teams to identify the breadth of use and related dangers when fully operating apps.
The internal teams supporting SaaS services typically lack the requisite advice to safeguard them. Constant communication is necessary for balancing business and security requirements. To maintain consistency, enterprises should invest more resources and effort in identifying and addressing security issues and treat SaaS like bare metal, IaaS, PaaS, and endpoint security.
The security problems that SaaS users face
McKinsey surveyed cybersecurity specialists from over 60 firms to understand how they handled SaaS security concerns. Most respondents said they had increased their attention on SaaS security, highlighting their and their providers’ security offerings.
As expected, Chief Information Security Officers (CISOs) were frustrated by suppliers’ security deficiencies. They complained about contractual and implementation delays and customer-centric security. They wanted SaaS companies to enable security experts to understand product security and set up and integrate them more simply.
Most respondents used SaaS for IT service management and office automation. But, given the dangers, several CISOs said their firms weren’t ready for SaaS in essential areas. Resource planning software was deemed too risky since downtime may cripple the company. Due to data confidentiality, companies hesitated to utilize SaaS for health-related or mergers-and acquisitions applications.
With more complex technologies like AI, cyberattacks become more sophisticated. For this reason, you must regularly review your SaaS security procedures. Listed here are the eight most prevalent SaaS security concerns, in case you are unfamiliar with them.
1. Management of Identity and Access
A CISO establishing a SaaS application security strategy must include access management as one of the fundamental foundations. However, if not done precisely, it can create a security hole that allows an attacker to enter.
Examples of successful ‘Identity and Access Management (IAM) strategies implemented by SaaS companies include Single Sign-On (SSO) and Secure Web Gateways (SWG). With SSO, the user must log in once to access all linked services inside a single ecosystem. However, if the provider has a secure access mechanism, SSO might introduce SaaS security problems, as it enables simple tracking of ID and password and access to multiple services.
Most SaaS services utilize virtualization because it provides more uptime than conventional computers. Nonetheless, if a single virtual machine is hacked, numerous parties may have problems since data is copied across servers. Virtualization has substantially improved mobile app security over the years, but there are still vulnerabilities that hackers are likely to exploit.
The SaaS model concentrates on application and business continuity while the service providers make infrastructure and architecture decisions. Occasionally, these suppliers withhold crucial back-end information, a significant red flag. CISOs should hold one-on-one meetings with service providers and inquire about their security measures. Remember that you must select a service that can provide adequate responses on data security.
Suitable SaaS applications are available from any location. This benefit, however, might soon become negative if the devices accessing the application are infested with viruses and malware. In addition, if the user accesses the application over a public WiFi network or VPN, it might pose a security risk to your infrastructure. Therefore, CISOs should prioritize safeguarding all endpoints to prevent such threats.
For example, the NHS (National Health Service) is a publicly financed healthcare institution established in the United Kingdom. The system contains voluminous sensitive data, such as patients’ health information, physicians’ information, pharmaceutical data, etc. Therefore, protecting every endpoint was essential. The university then cooperated with Cisco, which helped build the SecureX unified security platform. This technology protects the NHS’s highly targeted PII (Personally Identifiable Information) against internet thieves. It also allows users to protect data from phishing attempts, ransomware, data exfiltration, etc.
5. Data Control
With SaaS, all data is stored and managed on the cloud, leaving you little control over data storage and management. If you have a problem, you are relying on the service providers. Before signing a contract, ask the SaaS provider about data storage patterns, security measures, and disaster recovery processes. After receiving positive responses, you can form a partnership with the supplier.
SaaS apps are renowned for incorporating several complex features into a single solution. However, they add complexity to the code and increase the likelihood of misconfigurations. Even a little coding error might influence the availability of your cloud services. In one of the most disastrous misconfigurations of 2008, a Pakistani Telecom application attempted to restrict YouTube for legal reasons. However, in trying to block YouTube, they established a dummy route that resulted in misconfigurations, resulting in YouTube being unavailable worldwide for two hours.
7. Disaster Restoration
Regardless of the security procedures, you employ to protect your application, server, infrastructure, and data; there is always the possibility of a disaster since the future is unpredictable. CISOs should ask suppliers of SaaS security solutions:
- In the event of a catastrophe, what happens to all cloud-stored data?
- Do you ensure complete data recovery?
- Do you include catastrophe recovery in your service-level agreement?
- How long will it require to retrieve and restore the data?
5 Ways to Strengthen your SaaS Security with SaaS Ops
Develop Real-time Security Observability and Ongoing System Monitoring
Due to the dynamic infrastructure, changes in SaaS settings tend to occur often, and this has instantaneous effects, and influence on many resources. Running a SaaS infrastructure without real-time security monitoring and observability is equivalent to flying blind.
2.Configure and Constantly Monitor Configuration Settings
The SaaS landscape is constantly evolving. Since services are frequently launched and withdrawn in real time, configuring them correctly and monitoring settings can help you secure your customers’ data.
3.Utilize Operations Theory for Security
Practical operations principles may address tech sprawl, lack of integration between tool sets, lack of visibility, and operations running at the speed of business without security checks. Remember, “Great ops = great security.”
Storing unencrypted data on the cloud might expose your business to reputational harm, revenue loss, and customer loss. Encryption is one of the simplest and the most effective methods for securing client information.
Obtain Compliance & Regulatory Consulting Services, IT Audits, Risk & Security Management solutions, and training programs that meet the industry’s Regulatory Compliance and Information Security problems.
5.Measure & Enhance Performance
If you have a method for measuring performance, you can examine the impact of infrastructure modifications. Consequently, you may accomplish the constant security and performance enhancements essential for enhancing client relationships.
Now that you have a better grasp of the SaaS data security landscape, let’s examine the measures you can take to secure this at your organization:
1. Document your Data Processing Actions
Regarding SaaS data security, RoPA is only one starting point. RoPA stands for Record of your Processing Activities, a requirement of the GDPR. You are compelled by law to comply with this requirement.
Consider this an overview of all of your data processing procedures. It is a single document detailing your company’s data processing activities. Some examples of personal information processing activities include marketing, human resources, and third-party operations.
This is vital not just because the GDPR needs it but also because it assists organizations with self-auditing. If you keep track of and comprehend your data processing operations, you will be in the greatest position to implement data security.
After all, you cannot manage risks without first identifying them, correct?
2.Establish Authentication Methods and Necessitate a Formidable Password
Implementing appropriate access controls is one of the most critical measures to reduce the likelihood of a data breach. The first line of defense in this regard is a strong password.
Whenever a user establishes an account, you must ensure that they choose a secure and effective password, which should contain a combination of uppercase and lowercase letters, numbers, and special characters. Do not permit the use of clearly identifiable terms as passwords.
Verify that you do not depend solely on passwords to grant access to an individual’s account. Multi-factor authentication necessitates completing more than one step before admittance is granted.
Several more alternatives are available, such as requiring the user to enter a code provided to their cell phone or doing facial verification. It depends on the software you give and the individuals utilizing it.
3. Educate both your Consumers and your Staff
Education is essential for data security. You must do all your power to ensure that everyone using your program has the security expertise.
Did you know that 94% of businesses have had an insider data breach? While a few of these incidents may have been caused by malevolent employees, the great majority have been the consequence of unintended employee acts.
If they had received training on data security, this event might never have occurred.
The issue is that many companies are only concerned with the expense and resources associated with training. Nonetheless, it is crucial to calculate how much money you would lose if you were the victim of a data breach.
In addition, you must ensure that you are simultaneously teaching your clients. According to Gartner, customers will be accountable for 95% of cloud security breaches.
Whether releasing critical upgrades to existing clients or onboarding new ones, you must actively inform them how their activities affect security.
A growing number of SaaS companies are transitioning to cloud-based infrastructures. The great majority of customers are unaware of the ramifications of this decision. Educating your customers on how to secure their data is essential to reduce the likelihood of a security breach.
4. Continuously Monitor User Responsibilities and Access
In addition to the topics we’ve already discussed, you must continue to monitor division of duties (SOD) infractions.
SaaS applications are developed using initialized roles. However, as time passes, these roles and the users may get confused, leading to SOD violations, and it can be a significant compliance burden.
To prevent SOD breaches, you must regularly monitor people and their assigned roles.
5. Employ a Cybersecurity Company
If you are having trouble with SaaS data security, you should contact a cybersecurity company with experience in this field. Security is a challenging subject to master. On the other hand, you cannot afford to cut shortcuts since doing so might result in your company suffering a data breach, which could cost you hundreds or millions of dollars!
A good cybersecurity company can do a vulnerability assessment and even provide services such as penetration testing. This is ethical hacking if you have never heard the term before. It suggests that someone with good intentions will hack into your system before someone with malicious purpose. This will notify you of any software vulnerabilities so that you may make the necessary modifications.
Numerous aspects must be considered while searching for a reputable cybersecurity company. You want a corporation with a solid reputation and extensive industry expertise.
Concerning experience, you should not only seek a company with a substantial number of years under its belt, but you should also ensure that they have extensive expertise dealing with SaaS organizations.
Tips for SaaS security
These strategies can protect SaaS environments and assets.
Cloud providers handle authentication differently, making it challenging to decide how customers should access SaaS applications. Some manufacturers support customer-managed identity providers like Active Directory (AD) with SAML, OpenID Connect, and Open Authorization. Some providers allow multifactor authentication. Some don’t.
The security team must know which services are used and the alternatives each service supports to manage SaaS products. This context allows administrators to choose the proper authentication method(s).
If the SaaS provider supports it, a single sign-on (SSO) connected to AD ensures that account and password policies match the application’s services.
2.Encryption of Data
The channels that interface with SaaS apps use Transport Layer Security (TLS) to secure data in transit. Some SaaS suppliers offer data-at-rest encryption. This feature may be defaulted or activated.
Investigate each SaaS service’s security procedures to discover if data encryption is possible and activate it if so.
3.Oversight and Vetting
Review and examine any prospective SaaS provider (as you would with other vendors). Make sure you know how the service is used, its security model, and any extra security precautions.
4.Discovery and Inventory
Tracking all SaaS usage is essential as usage patterns might be unpredictable, especially when apps are quickly launched. Ensure you hunt for fresh, untracked SaaS use and be watchful for changes. When possible, combine human and automatic data collection to keep up with growing SaaS consumption and maintain a reliable, up-to-date inventory of services and users.
5.Cloud Access Protection Broker (CASB) tools
Consider employing a CASB solution when the SaaS provider does not provide enough security. CASB allows organizations to build SaaS-unique controls. Examine the SaaS provider’s security issues. You should also know the CASB deployment choices so you may choose the suitable configuration (API or proxy-based) for your organization’s architecture.
Review data from CASBs and the SaaS provider’s data and logs to monitor SaaS consumption. IT and security directors must treat SaaS products differently from conventional websites since they are complex tools requiring the same degree of protection as any business application.
Adopting SaaS security best practices with systematic risk management provides consumer and enterprise SaaS security.
7.Utilize SaaS Security Posture Management (SSPM)
SSPM ensures SaaS apps remain secure. An SSPM system monitors SaaS applications for gaps between declared security policy and actual security posture, allowing you to automatically detect and repair security vulnerabilities in SaaS assets and prioritize risk severity.
To summarize, we can say that many businesses rely on SaaS applications to perform mission-critical operations. Hence they must give the security measures around SaaS the same level of importance as those surrounding other technologies. It is possible to maintain the security of your data and the seamless operation of your business by continuously monitoring your SaaS environment, fixing misconfigurations as soon as they are discovered, and maintaining a tight check on third-party access to your systems.