Security Consideration for Your SaaS Product

With the growing number of cloud-based software as a service (SaaS) platforms, businesses are shifting operations from traditional on-premise applications to cloud-based ones. However, this also comes with the need for SaaS security.

Since its adoption, 43% of organizations have experienced security incidents that can be directly traced to SaaS misconfiguration. This number is expected to increase to 63% since several organizations are still uncertain how to cut this crisis. This has led to a negative financial impact with organizations over 4.35 million on data breaches. 

However, SaaS security threats are more than a financial crisis for your organization. They may expose your customers’ sensitive information, lead to intellectual property theft, or jeopardize your plans by leaking any trade secrets you store. 

SaaS security is a puzzle, and we bring you critical information that you can use to make sound decisions and secure your SaaS endeavors. 

Understanding SaaS Security

SaaS is the strategies, protocols, and technology for protecting users’ information within cloud-based software services. It protects data from possible breaches and potential risks that threaten its data and user interactions.

SaaS security isn’t only consistent with overall enterprise security but is also entailed by it. It is leveraged to control and access every part of the organization, including production and security SaaS, IaaS systems, repositories, and business-led SaaS. 

The SaaS security is mainly oriented at;

  • Identity level: The universal objective of SaaS security solutions is identity protection through the enterprise. So, identities are directly channeled into safe relationships with SaaS today and SaaS that is yet to be developed.
  • Contextual risk analysis: One of the most valuable goals after adopting SaaS security is to look back and capture SaaS identity risks from 10+ years of SaaS relationship. It means being able to analyze the first interaction to the present day. This helps quickly remove a decade of risk with better awareness of SaaS services. 
  • Close security gaps: SaaS security is also leveraged to identify gaps in access control, user access review, and authentication methods.

The most crucial starting point of the SaaS layer is identity, and when it is ignored, the security risk increases. If even one identity is compromised, it can be used to access dozens of other SaaS services within the organization.

Critical Differences Between Securing SaaS Products to Traditional Software

The typical way of differentiating SaaS from Traditional software is their installation. While Traditional software is installed directly on a computer or server, SaaS can only be accessed through a subscription-based model.

However, SaaS is a more updated version that provides security and has an edge over traditional software. In SaaS, all the data is stored in the cloud rather than the users’ physical devices. This makes it difficult for hackers to access this information, unlike Traditional software, which is always available on the user’s device.

SaaS is also more secure since it uses state-of-the-art encryption techniques and multiple additional authentication systems to ensure that only the authorized user can access the sensitive data.

Common Security Threats

In 2020, almost 80% of companies experienced at least one successful SaaS-related cyberattack, with an average of 3.8 incidents per company. Data breaches accounted for 60% of these breaches, while others included phishing and ransomware.

Here is an explanation of some most common types of data breaches. 

  • Data Breach

This cyberattack occurs when hackers successfully extract sensitive information from a platform. The hackers then sell the data on the dark web to those who want to steal identities or use the information in phishing emails. 

A perfect example of this breach is the 2021 case of Cognyte, a cyber analytics firm. When this organization left its database unsecured without authentication protocols, hackers accessed the records of over 5 billion users, including names, email addresses, passwords, and system vulnerabilities.

  • Insider Threats

This threat to an organization comes from negligent or malicious insiders who have inside information about cybersecurity practices, sensitive data, and computer systems. This threat can include theft of sensitive information, fraud, intellectual property rights, and trade secrets. 

While negligent insiders, disgruntled employees, or even persistent malicious actors have often caused this threat, insider collusion is the most common. A Community Emergency Response Team study revealed that insider collusion accounted for 16.75% of insider-caused security incidents. 

  • Supply Chain Attacks

This occurs when cybercriminals attack an enterprise through vulnerabilities within the supply chain. A hacker can compromise sensitive data by targeting the source code, updating mechanisms, or building processes of vendor software. An example of this is the most significant cyberattack in the U.S. government, which was facilitated by an IT update from its SaaS vendor, Solarwinds.

Security threats are endless, but cloud misconfiguration is a common one that covers almost all of them. When the service provider fails to secure the cloud environment, it can lead to various threats, including cloud leaks, ransomware, malware, phishing, external jackets, and insider threats. 

Security Best Practices

The costs incurred to mitigate a data breach and move past the threat are high. Therefore, you should protect yourself with the following measures before any attack.

  • Use of Encryption for Data at Rest and in Transit

These are some of the best security measures for the SaaS products. Encryption in transit involves encrypting moving data. It is an adequate data protection measure because it protects data while being transmitted using SSL and TSL protocols. 

Encryption at rest prevents unauthorized access by converting data into ciphertext. Any unauthorized user accessing the encrypted data will need a further decryption key to decode the data. 

  • Implementing Multi-factor Authentication (MFA)

This is a security measure where you protect your SaaS product by providing two or more different types of proof. These can be passwords, one-time codes, biometric identifiers such as fingerprints, facial scans, or a combination. 

  • Regular Security Audits and Vulnerability Assessments

These comprehensive evaluations of an organization’s posture include policies, controls, processes, and the overall infrastructure. The whole evaluation process, in auditing and vulnerability, aims to identify strengths, weaknesses, and any areas of improvement.

A thorough examination of your organization’s software helps you understand your current security status, whether there are vulnerabilities, and make an informed decision to enhance your security.

  • Secure Software Development Lifecycle (SDLC) Practices

SaaS software comes with many vulnerabilities that can be time-consuming and exhausting to solve. Following the SDLC process is your savior to addressing these challenges. 

This process analyzes your software, finds and corrects any periodic issues, and provides solutions on time and effectively. 

Just shift the mindset to DevSecOps, keep the security requirements updated, and take advantage of threat modeling. SDLC practice lets developers consider security threats early to develop a source code to treat the problem. 

  • Role-Based Access Controls (RBAC) and the Least Privilege Principle

These two security practices involve providing access to specific data without disrupting the workflow. The users are granted access to resources based on their organizational qualifications. An example is when everyone uses the same software in an organization, but the finance department can’t see HR data and vice versa. 

Compliance and Regulations

The SaaS compliance and legal requirements dictate how you calculate taxes, handle customer data, the contents of your financial statements, and how often you can send emails to your users. The specific rules regarding cybersecurity include (ISO 27001), revenue recognition (ASC 606), data protection (GSPR), and many more. 

Ensure that your team regularly meets the compliance requirements. This will save you from significant fines, lawsuits, security breaches, and bad user reputations. On the other hand, compliance ensures that you build credibility with your investors, provide data and revenue security, and certify your processing integrity.

Data Privacy and Protection

Ensuring adequate data privacy and protection saves organizations money and gives businesses a good reputation. Here are ways to strengthen your data privacy and security.

  • Tokenization

This is one of the most potent ways to reduce the attack surface for sensitive data. It involves replacing the actual data with surrogate information or tokens that look and feel like the data but are meaningless values. So, when a hacker gets hold of such information, it misleads them, shielding original sensitive data from unauthorized users/

  • Data Masking

This is a modern data protection method in which sensitive data characters are redacted. For example, (***** 7635) obfuscates sensitive data portions. This method includes static and dynamic data masking. 

Static data masking involves irreversibly anonymizing a data set. It is often used in analytics or the creation of data test beds.

  • Data Anonymization

This involves various techniques, including data masking, pseudonymization, generalization, and data swapping. It is a process of protecting privacy through erasing or encrypting identifiers that connect an individual’s data to stored data.

In pseudonymization, there is de-identification. It involves replacing private identifiers with fake identities, for example, “Will Smith” with “Sean Spencer.” However, generalization is where some data is removed to make it less identifiable. For example, you can remove a house number from an address. 

Additionally, data swapping is the shuffling and permutation of data. It includes rearranging dataset attribute values so they don’t correspond with the original data. 

Incident Response and Recovery

SaaS security attacks are random and severe, and the consequences can sometimes be unimaginable. Responding to these security incidents effectively and efficiently helps minimize damage, improve recovery time, avoid high costs, and restore business operations. Here is how:

  • Establish a policy: The plan should describe high-level incident handling priorities. It should empower the responders and guide them to make sound decisions.
  • Build an incident response team: A plan is as strong as the people involved. Assign everyone on your response team a task, and ensure they have adequate training and ability to fulfill their roles.
  • Create playbooks: These are the lifeline of your plan. They should outline the steps your team should take in specific scenarios.
  • Create communication: Poor communication can destroy everything, even with a solid plan—Have compelling communication mechanisms

Generally, your response plan should answer the ‘what,’ ‘who,’ ‘when,’ and ‘how’ questions. It is your authoritative map from initial threat detection to assessment, containment, and resolution. 

Protect Your SaaS From Security Threats

Security threats are endless, and with the development of technology, they may even be more severe for SaaS products. The key is to secure your cloud environment while ensuring the overall safety of your software. Also, beware of emerging security threats and stay updated on how to protect your SaaS products quickly. 

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