A recent analysis, which examined the data of over 500 businesses, uncovered some alarming facts. In 84% of the businesses examined, employees utilizing an average of 3.5 SaaS apps had experienced a breach in the preceding three months.
It isn’t much of a surprise that this is worrisome!
In today’s digital era it has become challenging for IT and security teams to stay on top of the types and usage patterns of SaaS services. One might also argue that why SaaS applications can’t be avoided or restricted?
Yes, it can be a possible solution, but every coin has two sides, one can’t deny the fact that SaaS applications can be utilized to guarantee corporate success. However, you should consider some precautions while utilizing them
If you’re an IT expert, a company owner, or simply curious about the complexities of SaaS security, we will debunk some common misconceptions, illuminate some pressing problems, and expose some cutting-edge techniques in this post so you may understand SaaS security.
So, let’s get started!
All about SaaS Security:
SaaS security involves the management, monitoring, and protection of sensitive data against cyber-attacks. As cloud-based IT infrastructures become more efficient and scalable, organizations also face increased vulnerability.
To ensure the privacy and safety of user data, SaaS maintenance practices like SaaS security posture management play a crucial role.
Regulatory bodies worldwide have issued security guidelines, such as the General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) in the EU, as well as the EU-US and Swiss-US Privacy Shield Frameworks, to support this cause.
Adhering to these guidelines is imperative for every SaaS business to provide safe and secure services.
Excited to learn more! Let’s dive deeper into some basic concepts of SaaS
What are the Two Types of SaaS?
Horizontal SaaS Framework
- This framework is used by well-known cloud services such as Salesforce, Microsoft, Slack, HubSpot, and others.
- The model enables large companies to successfully and efficiently manage their operations while serving a wide range of customers from various sectors.
- For example, Google Hangouts and Microsoft Teams were developed by Google and Microsoft, respectively, as communication tools.
Vertical SaaS Solutions
- On the flip side, vertical SaaS solutions are developed to focus on a particular or niche sector. Examples include trade, insurance, and neglected industries.
- The approach concentrates on the verticals of the business and develops remedies for the problems and requirements of the specialized sector.
- For instance, Toast software is designed only for the restaurant business and Guidewire is a SaaS service that solely produces software for the insurance industry.
The Security Structure of SaaS
The ideal SaaS product technology stack resembles a three-layer cake with each layer standing for a different environment.
Infrastructure (server side)
The server side of your technological stack refers to the internal exchange of information. For example, if your SaaS company uses AWS, you must encrypt every point of information transmission between the cloud storage provider and your software platform.
Every IoP launched by the client begins at this level. Additionally, it is crucial to enhance your SaaS security measures based on the storage option you choose, be it shared, dedicated, or a personalized server.
Network (The Internet)
The internet is used to communicate information between the server and client sides. This is by far the most susceptible layer of any SaaS firm.
Hackers are experts at identifying backdoors in data packets transferred over the internet due to inadequate encryption.
The efficacy of SaaS security is directly proportional to the integrity of data encryption technologies and the capacity to monitor information transmission over the internet in real time.
With the introduction of digital payments and online KYCs, companies are constantly transmitting and receiving sensitive information. As a result, network security measures have become even more critical.
Software and applications (Client-Side)
The last levels of SaaS security are the application and software. As previously said, a single data leak might very well be the source of unprecedented customer attrition.
As a result, to protect user data, we must implement impregnable SaaS security measures. We must ensure that all third-party programs and software that you use are constantly monitored.
Furthermore, the unpredictability of the client-side environment necessitates stricter security requirements than conventional techniques.
SaaS security: Why is it crucial?
SaaS security is significant because:
- Sensitive information would be well-protected and safe from cyberthreats including hackers, hostile insiders, and other hazards.
- SaaS security helps businesses avoid serious repercussions including legal liability, reputational harm, and client loss.
- Aids in building clients’ trust in the SaaS supplier.
- It helps ensure adherence to security guidelines and legislation.
- Ensures the safety and protection of hosted applications and data from cyber-attacks, reducing the possibility of data breaches and other security problems.
To all the brilliant minds, you might get an idea about some basics of SaaS.
Curious to learn more? Step into the boat and let’s sail together and explore the vast depths of the SaaS Ocean.
Key Fundamental Principles of SaaS Security
Access Control and Authentication
Strong authentication procedures should be used by SaaS applications to confirm users’ identities and limit access to information and features based on their roles and permissions.
Multi-factor authentication (MFA), secure session management, and the usage of strong passwords are all examples of this.
Encryption of Data
CISOs should encrypt sensitive data while it is in storage and in transit. Data should be encrypted during transmission using the Transport Layer Security (TLS) or Secure Sockets Layer (SSL) protocols.
Data kept in databases or file systems should also be encrypted to prevent unwanted access.
Secure Development Methodologies
When creating their apps, SaaS providers should adhere to secure coding standards. To find and fix security problems, this involves doing frequent code reviews, vulnerability analyses, and penetration tests.
Patch Management and Routine Updates
To repair known vulnerabilities in their apps and supporting infrastructure, SaaS providers should act quickly to implement security updates and patches.
This offers defense against possible exploitation by attackers who could target out-of-date software components.
Response to Incidents and Observation
SaaS companies must have effective incident response processes in place to identify, address, and resolve security problems.
To spot and investigate any shady activity or illegal access attempts, they should focus on constant monitoring and logging tools.
Information Privacy and Compliance
Depending on the type of data they manage, SaaS providers must adhere to pertinent industry standards and laws like GDPR (General Data Protection Regulation) or HIPAA (Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act).
Therefore, to safeguard consumer data, they ought to have transparent data privacy policies and practices.
Continuous Backup and Disaster Recovery
To guarantee the availability and integrity of consumer data, businesses should employ routine backup procedures and disaster recovery strategies.
This involves testing recovery techniques as well as frequent data backups, offshore storage, and testing.
User Education and Information
Companies should inform consumers of security best practices and enhance their knowledge of potential dangers including phishing scams and social engineering.
Regular security training encourages a culture of security awareness and aids users in understanding their obligations.
Vendor Due Diligence
Businesses that use SaaS apps want to choose a supplier after doing their research. This includes assessing the provider’s security precautions, accreditations, and adherence to industry standards.
The security obligations of both parties should be specified in a thorough Service Level Agreement (SLA).
What is the Need to Prioritize SaaS Security?
Many organizations have substantial expertise in handling the security dangers provided by setups that use Infrastructure-as-a-Service (IaaS) and Platform-as-a-Service (PaaS). Usually, business processes and programs that are connected with IT and security teams work together. The market for IaaS and PaaS security and management technologies is likewise very significant.
Applications offered as a service (SaaS) frequently behave differently and provide benefits for businesses. But managing them in terms of security might be challenging:
The many different teams inside a business might benefit from SaaS apps. For instance, record systems are used by sales teams to keep track of client information, development teams to save source code, and human resource teams to keep track of employee data.
Multiple end users who may possess varying degrees of technical knowledge regularly utilize such SaaS apps. SaaS apps are challenging for security teams to comprehend due to the sheer volume and complexity of usage.
Business administrators, who are responsible for selecting and managing new SaaS systems, rarely engage with security teams. When these apps are fully operational, security teams will struggle to comprehend the breadth of use and the related hazards to the company because of the lack of team contact.
Internal teams that maintain SaaS apps typically concentrate on functionality and business needs without having the required direction to safeguard them. It needs constant cooperation to strike a balance between commercial and security demands.
Organizations should devote more time and resources to detecting and mitigating security issues, and they should handle SaaS with the same consideration as bare metal, IaaS, PaaS, and endpoint security.
SaaS Security Breaches: The Growing Incidents
Capital One examined a nasty and potentially disastrous data and security incident in 2019. Due to a web application firewall setup error, the bank was utilizing Amazon Web Services (AWS), and as a result, 700 records were compromised when the attacker got access to AWS storage. Captial One had to reimburse 100 million individuals for $190 million because of this blunder.
A massive data breach occurred at LinkedIn in 2021. Over 700 million users were impacted. As a result, 92% of LinkedIn members had their data compromised. The attacker scraped the data by abusing LinkedIn’s API, then put it on the black web. The information in the data—which included the users’ private information—could be extremely harmful.
Santa Clara Health Plan (SCHP) in California disclosed a breach involving a known vulnerability in Fortra’s Go Anywhere managed file transfer (MFT) technology that affected 276,993 people. The breach affected Nations Benefits, one of its suppliers.
SCHP and other healthcare plans use Nations Benefits’ services for supplemental benefits administration. Patients are directed to the Nations Benefits website via SCHP’s online notification, which describes the breach in detail.
For more than a year and a half, up to this March, Toyota Italy unintentionally exposed private information. It revealed trade secrets for its Map box and Salesforce Marketing Cloud APIs. Threat actors tried to exploit this information to initiate phishing attacks against Toyota customers by using their access to their phone numbers and email addresses.
Recently, the Italian sports car manufacturer Ferrari said that a threat actor had requested a ransom in connection with client contact information that could have been revealed in a ransomware assault.
Following a credential stuffing attempt, PayPal recently notified thousands of users that their accounts had been compromised. The issue is thought to have compromised the private data of close to 35,000 people.
SaaS Security Risks and Challenges: A Comprehensive Overview
Breaches in Data
The potential of data breaches using SaaS is one of the main issues. Weak authentication measures, infrastructure flaws in the SaaS provider, and insider threats can all lead to unauthorized access to sensitive data. Breach can have negative financial, reputational, and legal effects.
Unsuitable Access Controls
Multiple users with varying levels of access are frequently present in SaaS systems. Unauthorized users may access sensitive information or take activities that are outside the scope of their authorization because of weak or incorrectly implemented access restrictions.
Therefore, strong access control methods must be put in place to reduce this danger.
Data Errors and Recovery
In general, SaaS providers oversee data backup and recovery. However, if the provider’s backup procedures are compromised by technical issues or administrative blunders, data loss may happen.
To preserve data integrity, CISOs should establish data backup plans and routinely evaluate their data recovery procedures.
In sectors with stringent compliance mandates, like healthcare (HIPAA) or finance (PCI DSS), several businesses are in operation. As data is held and processed by outside providers when using SaaS, there are more difficulties in adhering to these compliance requirements.
Businesses must select SaaS suppliers who follow applicable laws and offer the required security safeguards.
Lack of Transparency
SaaS providers often have shared infrastructure and resources, serving multiple customers simultaneously. This lack of visibility into the underlying infrastructure and security measures can make it challenging for organizations to assess the provider’s security practices, leading to uncertainty about data protection.
Moving away from a SaaS provider can be complex and costly due to vendor-specific data formats, APIs, and dependencies. This vendor lock-in can result in organizations being tied to a particular provider, even if they have security concerns or need to transition to a different solution.
Hence, understanding the vendor’s migration and exit strategies is crucial before adopting a SaaS solution.
Integration and Interoperability
Integrating SaaS applications with existing on-premises systems or other cloud services can introduce security challenges. Insecure or misconfigured integration interfaces can create vulnerabilities and increase the attack surface.
Robust security measures, such as secure APIs and encryption, should be implemented by CISOs to mitigate these risks.
Continuous Monitoring and Auditing
As organizations move their infrastructure and applications to SaaS, traditional network-based security controls become less effective. Organizations should invest in security monitoring tools and practices specifically designed for SaaS environments.
Regular audits should be conducted to ensure compliance and identify any security gaps.
Protect your Data: Best Practices for Ensuring SaaS Security
Determining how users should be granted access to SaaS services can be challenging since cloud providers might handle authentication in a variety of ways.
However, not all manufacturers offer interaction with customer-managed identity providers like Active Directory (AD) using Security Assertion Markup Language, OpenID Connect, and Open Authorization. In a similar vein, some suppliers enable multi-factor authentication while others do not.
Therefore, it is crucial that the security team comprehends which services are being used and the supported alternatives for each service to traverse various SaaS solutions offered.
Encryption of data from end to end
To safeguard data while it is in transit and at rest, use encryption capabilities. Even if a security compromise occurs, this can help prevent unauthorized access to sensitive data.
While several encryption methods can be employed for data at rest, Transport Layer Security (TLS) is a widely used protocol for encrypting data in transit.
Tools for CASB
Employ Cloud Access Security Brokers (CASBs) to enact security regulations and keep an eye on cloud settings. By providing visibility into cloud usage, identifying security issues, and enforcing security standards, CASBs serve as a middleman between users and cloud-based services.
Virtual private cloud/Virtual private network
For operation and data storage, VPN and VPC offer clients a secure environment. These are superior choices that are safer than multi-tenant systems. In addition, by safeguarding endpoints and defending the infrastructure, these allow users to log in and access SaaS apps from any location.
Management of virtual machines
To keep your infrastructure safe, your virtual machine has to be updated often. To secure your VM, stay up to date on the most recent threats and fixes available and apply them as soon as possible.
Adaptability and dependability
SaaS has excellent qualities for dependability and vertical and horizontal scalability. You have the option of including new, improved features or other resources as you see appropriate.
The vendor must develop a plan for horizontal redundancy because scaling cannot be done right away. Scaling becomes more reliable when using a CDN (content delivery network).
Certificates and transport layer security
When a provider uses Transport Layer Security to safeguard data sent from outside the SaaS application, security is significantly increased. TLS also enhances privacy between users and apps that communicate with one another.
Therefore, it is crucial to verify that the certificates are properly set and adhere to security standards. Internal data also holds true in this regard. Any intra-application transmission should be secured, and internal data should also be maintained in an encrypted way. The security of cookies should also be investigated.
Multi-factor authentication and user privileges
There should be a range of rights available to distinct user types. Privileges are frequently abused by cybercriminals to get access to an application’s fundamental files. Crucial files and folders should only be accessible by administrators.
Authentication is a key point of entry for attackers as well. The new requirement for accessing apps is 2 Factor Authentication. Verify that the SaaS application follows this tradition.
Updating oneself on OWASP
You may get the most recent information about security risks, vulnerabilities, malware, and attacks from OWASP, an open-source web application security initiative. It also includes the recommended strategies to handle or avoid similar circumstances.
To close numerous security gaps, CISOs must prioritize keeping up with the latest OWASP upgrades.
Prevention of data loss
Detection and action are the two components of data loss prevention (DLP). DLP systems can use keyword and phrase searches to check incoming or transmitted data for sensitive information. Once recognized, transmission of data stops to avoid any leaking. A reliable method will allow the DLP system to inform the administrator, who will then confirm that the detection was accurate.
SSPM (SaaS Security Posture Management)
SSPM makes certain that SaaS applications are correctly set up to guard against compromise. By leveraging Vrinsoft Technology Pvt Ltd’s cutting-edge SSPM solution, you gain the ability to effortlessly detect and rectify security threats within your SaaS assets. This advanced solution will empower you to prioritize risks and misconfigurations according to their severity, ensuring that the most critical issues are addressed promptly.
Furthermore, it enables you to consistently monitor your SaaS applications, swiftly identifying any disparities between stated security policies and the actual security status.
A Comprehensive Checklist for Ensuring the Security of your SaaS Platform
Creating a SaaS security manual
- CISOs can consult with an internal security team, and professionals can take into account their recommendations for security risks and vulnerabilities.
- Finally, based on those inputs, you may develop a set of rules that everyone using any new SaaS product for the company should abide by.
The use of a secure SDLC
- Security for SaaS is a constant process. As a result, security operations should be established throughout the software development lifecycle. These include penetration testing, vulnerability analysis, and safe coding practices.
- Additionally, it will motivate the development team to approach each stage from a security viewpoint rather than a functionality one.
Ensuring safe deployment
- Both cloud deployment and self-hosted deployment are secure deployment techniques that you may use. In the first instance, the vendor handles every aspect of deployment and makes sure that data security is maintained.
- In the second case, you must guarantee successful deployment that is secure. As a best practice, make every effort to automate the deployment.
Establishing automatic backups
SaaS solutions have the risk of not having data backups available. Therefore, concentrate on setting up automated backups to help you recover from disasters or catastrophic failures.
- Data recovery is a far more doable task than data retrieval.
Applying security measures
SaaS security controls are specialized procedures for identifying, minimizing, or avoiding threats like data breaches and cyberattacks. Some crucial security measures include:
- Detection of malware
- Encryption of data
- Management of access
- MFA multi-factor authentication
- Monitoring and testing for vulnerabilities
The Bottom Line
There are several reasons why a firm should utilize SaaS; nevertheless, SaaS security issues can often hold them back. These issues stem from a lack of awareness about SaaS security methods and controls. The elements mentioned above provide a framework for understanding what to expect from a SaaS provider and the process of evaluating SaaS security.
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Trust us to protect your data, streamline your processes, and catapult your company to new heights. Take the leap with us and experience the power of a secure SaaS application tailored to your unique needs. Your business deserves nothing less than the best, and Vrinsoft delivers.