Data has emerged as a company’s most essential asset in the modern world. Every security team prioritizes protecting sensitive data, but changes to the perimeter have forced teams to adapt how they approach enterprise security. SaaS adoption has skyrocketed in recent years, accounting for most cloud service costs in organizations.
But regarding security concerns, SaaS security still isn’t a priority and it’s not even in the top three, according to our recent IT and security pros survey. The global market for SaaS, estimated at US$ 96.76 billion in 2022, is projected to reach US$ 234.9 billion by 2028, growing at a CAGR of nearly 16%.
Today, the perimeter has evolved again due to the broad adoption of cloud-based infrastructure and applications. With more and more separate apps carrying mission-critical data, the proliferation of software-as-a-service (SaaS) solutions poses a significant problem for security teams. Bad actors are increasingly focusing on these services. Therefore, security leaders are pressured to develop and implement a thorough SaaS security plan.
What Makes SaaS Security Crucial?
SaaS (Software as a Service) has grown due to its versatility, increased popularity over the past few years, efficiency, and scalability. SaaS companies and their clients, however, face substantial security challenges as a result of growing popularity.
SaaS security is necessary because:
- Hackers, hostile insiders, and other cyber risks wouldn’t have access to sensitive data because it would be well-protected from them.
- SaaS security aids in avoiding serious outcomes like legal liabilities, reputational harm, and client loss.
- It helps to increase the clients’ trust in the SaaS supplier.
- It helps ensure adherence to security requirements and standards.
- It reduces the likelihood of data breaches and other security issues by ensuring the security and protection of hosted apps and data from cyber threats.
Why SaaS Security Should Be A Priority
Many businesses have extensive experience managing the security threats posed by environments that use Infrastructure-as-a-Service (IaaS) and Platform-as-a-Service (PaaS). Teams from IT and security frequently work together using integrated business procedures and software. IaaS and PaaS security and management products have a sizable market.
SaaS programs frequently function differently and provide benefits for businesses. They can, however, be more challenging to manage in terms of security:
SaaS solutions are made to be used by many different teams throughout a company. For instance, record systems are used by sales teams to store customer information, development teams to save source code, and HR teams to store HR data. These SaaS programs are regularly used by a variety of end users, some of whom may be technical novices. Security teams find it challenging to comprehend SaaS apps due to their extreme volume and complexity of use.
SaaS security teams and the business managers who choose and oversee new SaaS solutions rarely interact. It is more difficult for security teams to comprehend the scope of use and the associated hazards to the organization when these applications fully operate because of the limited team contact.
Internal teams that support SaaS apps frequently lack the direction to protect them and instead concentrate on functionality and business requirements. Continuous collaboration is necessary to strike a balance between business and security needs. Organizations should devote more time and energy to identifying and mitigating security issues and treat SaaS with the same regard as bare metal, IaaS, PaaS, and endpoint security, to assure consistency.
The Top 7 SaaS Security Guidelines
The methods listed below are advised for protecting SaaS environments and assets.
- Stronger authentication
It can be challenging to decide how users should be granted access to SaaS services because cloud providers might handle authentication in a variety of ways. Some (but not all) manufacturers allow the integration of identity providers that the customer can manage, such as Active Directory (AD) with Security Assertion Markup Language, OpenID Connect, and Open Authorization. The same is true for the support of multi-factor authentication by different vendors.
- Information encryption
Transport Layer Security (TLS) is frequently used on the channels used to communicate with SaaS apps to secure data while it is in transit. For the protection of data when it is at rest, several SaaS companies additionally offer encryption features. It might be necessary to enable this functionality or it might be a default. To determine whether data encryption is possible, research the security features offered by each SaaS service. When appropriate, make sure to enable the encryption.
- Checking and Monitoring
A potential SaaS provider should be reviewed and assessed (just like you would with other providers). Make sure you comprehend the service’s intended usage; the security model is employed to supply the service, as well as any optional security measures that may be offered.
- Investigation and Inventories
Given that SaaS consumption patterns might be unpredictable, especially when apps are deployed quickly, it is crucial to track all SaaS usage. Be sure to look for fresh, unreported SaaS consumption and be on the lookout for sudden changes. When feasible, combine human data collecting methods with automation technologies to keep up with the quickly changing SaaS usage and to have an accurate, current inventory of the services used and who is utilizing them.
- CASB Resources
In cases when the SaaS provider does not offer a sufficient level of security, think about implementing a Cloud Access Security Broker (CASB) solution. Organizations can include controls that SaaS providers do not offer or do not natively support, thanks to CASB. Investigate the options to fix any security model flaws in the SaaS provider. You should also be aware of the various CASB deployment options so you may select the appropriate deployment configuration (such as API- or proxy-based) for the architecture of your company.
- Situational Awareness
As you use SaaS, keep track of the data and logs the SaaS provider gives you, watch how you use the service, and use tools like CASBs to examine the data. SaaS products must be handled differently by IT and security executives from standard websites since they are sophisticated tools that require the same level of protection as any enterprise program. When adopting SaaS security best practices, be careful to put methods for systematic risk management into place—this helps guarantee that consumers use SaaS safely and that your organization’s SaaS usage is kept secure.
- Make use of SSPM (SaaS Security Posture Management)
SSPM correctly configures SaaS applications to guard against compromise. A leading SSPM solution from Cynet lets you automatically find and fix security risks in SaaS assets and automatically prioritize risks and misconfigurations by severity. This solution continuously monitors SaaS applications to identify gaps between stated security policies and actual security posture.
What Poses Danger With SaaS Applications?
In contrast to conventional networking systems, cloud computing systems run on virtual servers to store and administer multiple accounts and workstations. Even one compromised server in such a scenario might endanger several parties. Although virtualization technology has advanced much over the years, it still has flaws that make them frequent targets for cybercriminals. It can offer great protection from various threats when set up correctly and implemented with stringent security policies.
2. Taking care of identity
Single Sign-on (SSO) capabilities are supported by many SaaS providers, considerably simplifying application access. When there are several SaaS applications and access is role-based, this is most advantageous. Some service providers offer secure data access systems, but as the number of applications rises, it becomes more challenging and complex to administer securely.
3. Cloud service standards
SaaS security might vary significantly depending on the provider and the guidelines upheld by them. Not every SaaS provider complies with internationally recognized SaaS security requirements. It’s possible that even service providers who advertise compliance lack SaaS-specific certification. Standards like ISO 27001 can provide a certain degree of assurance. However, if they are not rigorously examined, not all security options may be covered by the certification.
Customers frequently have no idea how the SaaS service provider handles certain operations. Consider it a warning sign if a SaaS supplier tries to be overly evasive regarding the backend specifics. Customers must know how everything operates to feel completely confident about SaaS security.
Most well-known SaaS companies are open about their internal workings. However, some may withhold information concerning multi-tenant architecture and security protocols. Service Level Agreements (SLA) are helpful in these situations since they oblige the supplier to reveal all obligations. Customers have a right to know, among other SaaS risks, how their data is safeguarded against cyberattacks and information disclosure.
5. Data Placement
SaaS solutions may store clients’ data in another country. However, not all providers can guarantee this owing to many considerations like cost and data laws. Customers may occasionally feel secure having their data stored domestically. The location of data should also take data latency and load balance into consideration.
SaaS applications are accessible from anywhere, which is one of the things that makes them more desirable. But there are risks associated with this trait as well. The server could be compromised by actions like using unprotected public WiFi or malicious mobile devices to access the program. Attackers could access the server if the endpoints are not protected.
7. Data management
Clients won’t have complete control over their data because it will all be hosted on the cloud. Customers are at the mercy of the SaaS provider if something goes wrong. The provider is now in charge of handling and keeping data once a price model has been agreed upon. In these situations, clients frequently worry about who has access to information, potential data corruption scenarios, and access by competitors and third parties, to name a few. The solutions to these inquiries become significantly more important when sensitive data is kept.
The need for increased security grows in sync with the increasing reliance on cloud infrastructure and demand for SaaS services across different industries. Organizations’ growing dependence on such apps to run mission-critical processes hasn’t gone unnoticed by cybercriminals. 90% of organizations use cloud computing, including SaaS services, to achieve cost reduction, faster time-to-market, and other critical business objectives. Hackers are particularly attracted to environments that deploy SaaS apps because of the volume of sensitive data stored there, such as payment card numbers, personally identifiable information (PII), or protected health information (PHI).
Moreover, SaaS data is more difficult to protect: the volumes are large, data models are more sophisticated, and integrations, regulations, and business processes are more complex. Development and new opportunities come hand in hand with new risks. SaaS applications are primarily built using cloud platform services (PaaS), deployed on cloud infrastructure (IaaS), and hosted and managed by several providers. An app’s security is developed at all layers but owned mainly by the service provider.