As more and more businesses adopt SaaS applications, it has become increasingly important to understand the security measures necessary to protect sensitive data and software. Software as a Service application has provided a flexible and cost-effective way to access software and data. SaaS security involves the protection of data, applications, and infrastructure of SaaS providers, as well as the customers using their services.
According to Polar Security, the growth of SaaS is expected to continue at a rapid pace, with projections indicating an annual growth rate of 20%. This will result in a substantial increase in the market share of SaaS. Some estimates suggest that it will account for as much as one-third of all enterprise software sales.
The protection of assets in a SaaS architecture is achieved through a range of security practices known as SaaS security. Both the customer and the service provider or software distributor have a shared responsibility for ensuring the security of SaaS applications, according to the UK’s National Cyber Security Centre (NCSC) SaaS security guidelines. This collaborative approach to security helps to ensure that all critical assets are protected and reduces the risk of security breaches and data loss.
In this article, we will explore the definition of SaaS security and the seven major risks & challenges of SaaS security.
SaaS Security Definition
According to CheckPoint, SaaS Security is a critical concern in the world of cloud computing, as it involves the protection of user privacy and corporate data in subscription-based cloud applications. Software as a Service applications store and process large amounts of sensitive information, making them a potential target for cybercriminals.
Furthermore, the nature of SaaS applications allows for access from multiple devices and from a large number of users, which can increase the risk of unauthorised access and data breaches.
To secure SaaS applications, organisations and companies must take proactive measures to protect the privacy and confidentiality of the data stored within. This involves implementing strong security protocols, such as encryption, firewalls, and access controls, to prevent unauthorised access and data breaches.
Additionally, organisations and companies must carefully manage and monitor user access to SaaS applications. They also need to ensure that data is stored in a secure and encrypted format.
The importance of SaaS security cannot be overstated, as it is essential for protecting critical business data and maintaining user privacy in an increasingly digital world.
7 Major Risks and Challenges of SaaS Security
According to Vendr, there are 7 major risks and challenges of SaaS security as followings:
1. Access Management
Managing access is crucial for any SaaS application that handles sensitive information. Customers must be aware of the potential risks associated with a single entry point into the cloud, such as the possibility of confidential data being exposed.
It's important to assess the design of the access control systems and determine if there are any vulnerabilities, such as inadequate patching or a lack of monitoring, that could impact network security.
The more complex a SaaS product becomes, the higher the risk of misconfiguration. It can impact the availability of the cloud infrastructure. Even minor configuration errors can have significant consequences.
For example, in February 2008, Pakistan Telecom attempted to block YouTube within the country due to controversial videos. It resulted in a misconfiguration that made the platform unavailable worldwide for two hours. This serves as a reminder of the potential impact that misconfigurations can have.
3. Regulatory Compliance
Ensuring compliance with regulations and following governance policies are key factors in maintaining the security of SaaS applications. When evaluating your suppliers' endpoint security measures, it's important to ask the following questions:
- How is the jurisdiction responsible for governing customer data determined?
- Are your cloud applications compliant with regulations such as GDPR, HIPAA, and SOX regarding privacy and data protection?
- Can your cloud providers undergo external security audits?
- Does your cloud service provider have security certifications such as ISO and ITIL?
Prior to acquiring new software, it's important to determine the location of data storage. To verify data storage policies, SaaS users can consider the following questions:
- Does your SaaS provider grant you control over the location of stored data?
- Is the data stored through a secure cloud services provider such as AWS or Microsoft, or is it located in a private data centre?
- Is data encryption provided during all stages of data storage?
- Are end users able to share files and objects with others within and outside their domain?
It is important to verify the duration for which the SaaS platform retains sensitive information entered into the system. It is also recommended to clarify the ownership of data stored in the cloud, whether it belongs to the SaaS provider or the user.
It's crucial to understand the policy for retaining cloud data, who is responsible for enforcing it, and if there are any exceptions to it.
6. Disaster Recovery
It is important to consider the impact of unexpected events, such as natural disasters, on your business operations. To be prepared, you should consider the following questions:
- What happens to the SaaS application and the data stored in the cloud during a disaster?
- Does the "act of god" provision in the contract with your service provider come into effect?
- Does the provider guarantee a full recovery and, if so, what is the estimated time frame and process for restoration?
7. Privacy and Data Breaches
It is important to understand the steps a SaaS provider takes to protect against security threats like data breaches. Consider asking these questions to gauge their preparedness for dealing with such incidents:
- What steps are in place to prevent security breaches? For example, is the security team capable of responding to a ransomware attack or malware?
- In the event of a breach, how will the provider detect it and investigate any malicious activity?
- Is there a clause in your contract that holds the provider responsible if the breach is due to their own negligence in maintaining adequate security measures?
In conclusion, SaaS security is an issue that organisations and companies can't afford to ignore. With the increasing reliance on cloud-based software, understanding and managing the risks and challenges is essential to ensure the protection of sensitive data.
By implementing best practices and addressing these risks, organisations can minimise the risk of data breaches and ensure the security of sensitive information in their SaaS environment. As a SaaS application, VirtualSpace ensures you have the best protection and security for your data and privacy.