SaaS Security threats and how to counter them

Written By
Ravi K Nair
Technical Content Strategist
Last updated at December 12, 2022
SaaS Security threats and how to counter them

As more people use and adopt SaaS products, we are seeing an uptick in security concerns.


The seven top SaaS security risks are misconfigurations, access management, regulatory compliance, data storage, and data retention. These all have potentially high implications for your business, such as not being able to comply with regulatory requirements.


As SaaS platforms continue to evolve, organizations that rely on them need to keep their security policies flexible so they are able to adapt to all the changes and don't lag behind.


SaaS has been revolutionizing the cloud service sector and bringing a lot of security risks and challenges with it. As the most dominant model today, it also needs the most critical security practices.


There is a lot of debate in the world about SaaS product security.But what are the supplier and customer ultimately responsible for? The results of the recent HackerNews survey can clear up this point. A majority of respondents, 52%, believe that SaaS providers are responsible for checking and maintaining cloud security.


A survey aside, just like with an on-premises solution, businesses must research their SaaS provider’s policies about data security and compliance for the apps they want to use. This blog is about how to protect your SaaS apps from cloud security breaches.


What are the major SaaS security threats?


  1. Access Management


Protecting your data is important for all types of applications. SaaS customers want to know whether a single entry point from their public cloud can expose confidential information. It's also worth asking questions about the design of security access control systems and how these might impact network security issues. This includes determining whether there are any opportunities for system gaming and a lack of monitoring.


  1. Misconfiguration


Most SaaS products add more layers of complexity to their system, thus increasing the chances for misconfigurations to arise. Even small configuration mistakes can affect the availability of the cloud infrastructure.


  1. Regulatory compliance


When ensuring that your suppliers have strong endpoint security measures, ask these questions:


  • Keeping track of what jurisdiction your customer data is in and how it is determined can be difficult. Do your cloud applications comply with regulatory, privacy, and data protection requirements like GDPR, HIPAA, SOX, and more?


  • Are your cloud providers ready to undergo external security audits?

  1. Storage


You should always ask about the data storage policies and the comparison between SaaS and on-premise software. When comparing a SaaS solution to an on-premise solution, keep in mind how much data is stored on your system. These policies will affect your security and the cost of your product.


  • What are your options for where data is stored?


  • Are data encryption services available in all stages of data storage?

  1. Information Retention


You need to figure out how long the SaaS environment will store your sensitive information before it's deleted. Make sure you know who owns the data that's stored in a cloud: is it the provider or the user?


What is the cloud data retention policy? Who enforces it, and are there any exceptions to this?


  1. Data Recovery


We've all seen how a disaster, like an unexpected turn in the economy or a natural disaster, can shake the foundations of a business. You need to answer these questions before you're faced with an upcoming disaster:


If a natural disaster strikes and your service provider fails to restore the service, is it guaranteed? Look out for clauses mentioning force majeure and guaranteed recovery time.


  1. Data breaches


Security and data breaches are a constant threat to organizations all over the world. Ask these questions to find out how your supplier stands against privacy and security breaches and if they have any strategies for overcoming them.


How does your provider guarantee protection against security threats, such as a ransomware threat or invasion of malware?


You might want to offer your supplier an indemnity clause that can allow you to take care of any liabilities and issues that arise.

Well, what’s the solution to it?


To address the security issues mentioned above, it is a good time to review your existing security practices and develop new ones as the SaaS environment evolves.


The appearance of firewalls and other security tools can do a lot, but they won't stop hackers. You also need to be more active in safeguarding your data by following the seven security steps, which you can find here: link.


  1. Risk Assessment


Practical risk assessment includes:


  • Identifying the right data sources


  • The data is located in many different parts of the system. Identify them


  • Recognizing how this data links with business processes and other internal applications is key to success.


Conduct security audits on a regular basis and address any issues that you identify during them.


If one application in your SaaS stack exposes you to cyber risk, all other applications that are linked are also at risk.This is precisely why it's important to audit all SaaS apps that you use and remove those with potential risks. Check the risk configuration of your application and make sure it complies with any potential security threats. You should also monitor access credentials for any irregular behavior.


  1. Awareness programs for cybersecurity


You need to provide resources to your company's employees that will ensure they are aware of the security risks when using cloud services. Employees who lack proper awareness about these issues could put themselves at risk.


The lack of a formal security awareness programme can lead to your data being exposed to many security risks. Social engineering attacks, phishing scams, and accidental leaks are just some of the dangers you'll need to keep an eye out for.


There is no need to rely on SaaS providers, who might not provide extensive training sessions. Your organization should step up and conduct independent security trainings for the end users once a week, in addition to providing continuous baseline trainings for all new employees.


This training will teach you how to keep your data secure and safeguard against cyberattacks.


  1. Making security checklist for SaaS


A solid security checklist will help you determine whether or not your SaaS provider can be trusted. A SaaS portfolio essentially inserts a security checkpoint into the purchasing process, allowing you to assess your company's security needs and identify whether you need to make changes. This means they have been vetted and inspected, so you know they are reliable before using them.


  1. Formulating policies and standards


Nowadays, many tools are available to help you develop information security policies and guidelines. You don't need to have a dedicated cloud security team, even if you can't afford one. But even if you only have basic resources, establishing some form of security policy for your users will help them out in the long run.


As companies are always updating their products and services, it would be wrong to stop your policy writing at one point. Provide a clear outline of the standards you hold your business units to and then allow them to update them periodically as needed.


  1. Third-party risk management


Third-party risk management is an important element of a security plan. If people are allowed to connect to any tool they want with an API, it will result in a security nightmare.


Regulating API connections becomes essential to avoid poor SaaS products leaking data, so a few people should be given permission to research the third party.


Cloud access security brokers can help you keep tabs on SaaS usage across your organization so you can make an informed decision about what to do next.

  1. Identity access management


Authentication is more than just passwords. There's a need to add in steps like enabling 2FA. Multi-factor authentication requires the user to submit at least two of these: something they know, something they have, or some physical characteristic.


Organizations can implement single sign-on if users find multi-factor authentication too confusing or difficult. This makes it easier for users to authorize multiple applications with a single set of credentials.


Once verified, they need to change their password. Finally, they should check the authentication and authorization records to confirm that there are no issues.


  1. Disaster recovery plan


A disaster recovery plan is an integral part of a company's business continuity strategy. Without one, it leaves your firm vulnerable to all sorts of disruptions. Disaster recovery is all about creating processes, policies, and procedures that will prepare an organization to recover the usage of its tech infrastructure in the event of a natural or human-induced disaster.

Wrapping up


As the SaaS stack continues to rapidly grow, businesses will need to work hard on their security measures. They will have to make sure that they have the best security measures in place so that they don't suffer from a hefty infosec blunder. Of course, you can have great SaaS security checklists, risky assessments, and enlightened end users. However, if you don't adapt to the ever-changing IT landscape, all your hard work will fall apart.

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