As technology becomes a vital part of business processes, its security has become a top priority. Software-as-a-service (SaaS) security involves steps to ensure that data logged on the SaaS app stays private, secure, and free from hackers.
What is SaaS Security, and Why is it Important?
With rising costs, companies may opt for software as a Service hosting for their business apps today. This gets them all the benefits of pay-as-you-use, like complete scalability. It also works out cost-effectively for smaller budgets.
SaaS security refers to the steps taken by the Software-as-a-service provider hosting the company’s data and apps. This typically includes encryption, authentication, data backup and recovery, access controls, and network security.
As per a recent report by AppOmni, “The AppOmni SaaS Security Posture Management Report 2023,”
SaaS security offers flexibility and is cost-effective and scalable.
It is important because when a company hires security apps for its use, the host vendor needs to ensure they: –
- protect sensitive data and ensure there are no legal penalties and reputational damage
- Maintain compliance with security standards and regulations
- Ensure the security and protection of apps, reducing the chances of data breaches
What are the Potential Security Issues SaaS Posses?
1. Risky Virtualization Feature
SaaS is mostly hosted on the cloud. Users buy subscriptions to applications as per their use.
Unlike traditional systems, cloud computing systems run on virtual servers and manage multiple accounts. Hence, when a single server is compromised, it can risk all servers.
Although virtualization technology has improved, it poses risks unless properly configured and implemented with strict security protocols.
2. Limited Data Control and Easy Accessibility
In Saas models, third parties protect and store data.
So, users may not fully know their data’s security process and storage. So, an SSL certificate is critical, so the user knows their security risks are minimal.
Easy access to SaaS has benefitted the user. But the ease of access may be its biggest security concern. It poses major risks since anyone can access it with unsecured connections and public Wi-Fi rather than a VPN. If left unprotected, these connections and endpoints lead to server compromises, enabling hackers to breach the system.
3. Lack of Transparency
If companies are not aware of the processes followed by the SaaS service provider, this will lead to confusion and inefficiency. Ensuring that SaaS providers are transparent about their backend activities is vital.
However, some would not disclose their security protocols and multi-tenant infrastructure details. In such cases, firms must obtain Service Level Agreements (SLAs). This compels the provider to disclose all their activities.
4. Identity Management Issues
SaaS providers offer Single Sign-on (SSO) to ease access to apps. This is beneficial, especially when multiple apps and access are role-based. Some offer secure data access systems, but managing it securely with an increasing number of apps becomes a challenge.
5. Data Storage on Cloud
While SaaS runs virtually, the data is stored on the cloud. This is a major issue as the provider uses a third party to protect the data. At the same time, security approaches can vary based on providers and standards. Not all providers align with globally accepted SaaS security standards and have SaaS-specific certification.
How Businesses Can Overcome the Security Issues?
1. End-to-End Data Encryption
An SSL certification is a good way of ensuring data encryption, making it hard for hackers to decrypt the data. With this, it becomes easy to encrypt all shared data between those SaaS users and the server communicating the information.
Moreover, clients must encrypt their data while inputting, especially when it contains sensitive information.
Users and vendors must follow all these steps to prevent a security breach. The SSL certificates must be set up correctly for maximum benefit.
2. Routine Vulnerability Testing
Firms must ensure that the SaaS provider has adequate tools for vulnerability testing and meets all the standards. It is essential to ensure regular intensive checks on the SaaS systems.
There are multiple ways to check vulnerability- with automated tools or manually by security experts.
An ideal vulnerability testing will need automatic and manual checks. That can help consider real-world scenarios and the latest threats.
3. Data Deletion Policies
Data deletion policies are essential to keep customer data safe. Firms must ensure that SaaS providers clearly state their data deletion policies. Also, ensure that the service agreements mention these policies clearly.
The SLAs also need to list the next steps after the customer’s data retention timeline ends. Usually, the vendor programmatically deletes data from the server and generates respective logs.
4.User Level Data Security, User Privileges, and Multi-Factor Authentication (MFA)
Excess levels of SaaS security can limit the disruptions caused by cyber-attacks. At the user level, security methods like role-based access and permissions will help protect the system from internal security gaps.
Hackers may misuse privileges to access the application’s files, so admins must have access to them. Furthermore, MFA is the new standard used to log into applications. Ensure that the SaaS apps adhere to this standard.
5. Transport Layer Security (TLS) and Certifications
SaaS security greatly improves when the provider secures externally transmitted data using a TLS. This ensures privacy between communicating apps and users. Firms must verify if the certificates are appropriately configured.
Moreover, when choosing a SaaS vendor, verify if they comply with key certifications such as the GDPR, ISO 27001, SOC 1, and SOC 2.
SaaS security involves handling user identities securely and complying with relevant data privacy regulations. It helps identify threats quickly and respond appropriately while protecting integrations with other software or services.
However, SaaS security concerns can hold back firms from adopting the solutions. It’s dangerous when users are unclear about the SLA requirements or vendors are unclear about SaaS security protocols and controls.
Businesses must ensure that SaaS providers combine automated and manual testing to find security vulnerabilities.