With the increased popularity of SaaS applications, security threats have intensified for companies. It’s a fact that web-based applications are subject to a number of security liabilities that expose them to cyber-attacks. In addition to causing significant problems, these security liabilities could also negatively impact the reputation — and, even viability — of a company. In this context, SaaS security management is more important than ever.
So, in this article, we’ll briefly touch on what the SaaS security approach is about. Then, we’ll go over the most common threats, to keep you in the know. Finally, we’ll discuss some of the best practices you can implement, as a CTO, to secure your SaaS application effectively.
What is SaaS Security Management?
SaaS security management simply refers to the methods you can apply — and tools you can use — as a CTO to mitigate and prevent any security risks to your SaaS-based applications, and the data they include. To that end, a streamlined SaaS security system allows you to monitor your assets and resources, to ensure holistic protection.
What are the most common security issues to look out for? Let’s have a look!
What are the most common challenges in SaaS Security Management?
SaaS businesses face security challenges almost every day. And, the number of cyber threats affecting their applications is only increasing, with time. Knowing these threats, will allow you, as a CTO, to create an effective security strategy and improve your SaaS security management practices.
To help you with this strenuous task, below, we go over the most common issues and threats that may affect the security of your SaaS ecosystem:
- Sloppy security configuration. This is not as rare an occasion as one might think. Misconfigurations can often make your SaaS assets become vulnerable to malicious activity.
- Poor monitoring and logging practices. Logging and monitoring SaaS applications and their data in real time is a daunting task. Yet, poor application of these two practices can be very risky, for many reasons.
- Limited (or lack of) visibility. How can you prevent attacks if you lack visibility into your cloud assets and service usage? The answer is, you can’t — at least, not properly.
- Weak security architecture. Simply put, if your security architecture is weak, it can get compromised by all sorts of malicious activities.
- Data breaches. Without a doubt, protecting sensitive data is one of the biggest challenges in SaaS security management. Unfortunately, hackers are always looking for ways to infiltrate your systems, through weak spots; and use your data for their own purposes.
- Compliance issues. A failure to comply with the security practices and protocols of your industry may not only result in legal and/or financial penalties, but also in serious security troubles.
- Insider threats and human errors. As it so often happens, SaaS security issues arise from using weak passwords; or leaving business-critical data exposed to external factors that may exploit them.
6 Best practices, for better SaaS security management
Having touched on some of the most commonly faced security challenges and risks, we can now see how you can implement an improved SaaS security management practice, effectively. To that end, the SaaS security best practices listed below will help you safeguard your SaaS environments and assets.
1. Enforcing an effective Identity and Access Management system
Identity and Access Management (IAM) is essential for improving your SaaS security management. That’s because an IAM system checks the identities of users and their roles, and determines whether they’re authorized to use data from your SaaS applications. In other words, it helps prevent unauthorized users — and devices — from accessing business-critical data. To do that, the IAM approach includes a set of policies that authenticate digital entities, and authorize them to carry out their role-based tasks, using the required resources from your SaaS system.
2. Mapping, and encrypting your SaaS data
Without a doubt, mapping and encrypting all data in the SaaS ecosystem should be on top of the security measures list of all CTOs. Traditional security methods, like firewalls, are simply not enough to protect your cloud-based applications. If you want to streamline your SaaS security management, you need to turn to data mapping, encryption, and key management.
By mapping your SaaS data, you will be able to find its location within your system. This will help you control and monitor everything much more effectively. On the other hand, data encryption will allow you to minimize — even prevent — data loss, and identity theft; thus, providing your cloud data with the maximum level of protection.
3. Ensuring compliance with regulatory requirements
Another best practice in SaaS security management is to always comply with your industry’s regulatory standards. These standards and requirements were created to ensure that cloud applications don’t deviate from the baseline security measures. If anything deviates from these standards, it poses a potential threat, so it has to be remedied, immediately.
4. Adopting a continuous monitoring and logging approach to user activity
Monitoring and logging all access attempts into your SaaS system are indeed two vital steps for the security of your SaaS assets. Without them, it would be difficult to spot and prevent data breaches and design a sound security plan for your entire SaaS landscape. The truth is that the faster you can detect any unusual activity, the more effectively you can protect your SaaS ecosystem.
Establishing a continuous monitoring and logging practice will help you gain visibility into user access pathways. In addition, it will allow you to track and manage all your SaaS services and resources. With monitoring and logging, you can also keep an eye on potential password-spraying attacks and detect any compromised accounts.
5. Tracking usage of resources, and keeping an updated Inventory
Since the SaaS model makes it easy to deploy applications fast, tracking the usage of your cloud-based resources and services is critical. Regularly tracking the allocation of SaaS resources will help you detect any suspicious or unexpected usage, promptly.
At the same time, maintaining an updated Inventory of the services and resources employed — and, who uses them throughout the company — will allow you to keep everything, and everyone, under control. These two approaches combined will certainly help you optimize SaaS security management in your company.
6. Educating employees on security measures
The importance of security education for all your employees cannot be overstated. Your business can avoid serious problems by teaching your employees how to implement basic security measures. In fact, it will also enable them to recognize and defend your SaaS data from more sophisticated hacking techniques, such as digital social engineering.
Keeping your data and business safe with SaaS security management
Reaching a high level of SaaS security is a challenge for even the most experienced CTO. However, chances are that advances in SaaS adoption will be one step ahead of IT and security teams. This means that critical data will be vulnerable to new — potentially more sophisticated — cyber risks.
The only way for CTOs and their teams to bridge this gap is to implement a SaaS security management system — ideally based on automation — to promptly discover and thwart threats. In the end, a SaaS security management system can ensure that security guardrails protect sensitive, business-critical data, allowing businesses to operate smoothly.