5 Pillars of SaaS Security and Essential Best Practices

Cloud-based applications and services are cheaper because of a pay-as-you-go system that removes the necessity of upfront payments for physical servers. Companies can also remotely access these solutions from any location with an internet connection using any device, allowing for a flexible work environment for remote staff. You can even adjust the size of your cloud applications to meet fluctuating workloads and growth without requiring a substantial financial investment.

However, as more companies choose to use SaaS solutions for their advantages, the chances of potential vulnerabilities also rise.

Possible outcomes of data breaches and cyber attacks include potential data and financial losses, harm to a company’s reputation, and sanctions from regulatory entities. Due to the growing risks, businesses require robust security measures to safeguard their operations.

This article examines the five foundations of SaaS security and crucial strategies that can aid organizations in safeguarding their data and infrastructure in the cloud.

Key Takeaways 

  • More and more businesses are adopting SaaS solutions because they’re affordable and convenient, but data security threats in SaaS pose huge risks to this revolution.
  • Some of the SaaS security risks are misconfiguration, shadow IT, poor access control management, insider threat, and storage. 
  • Common safety practices for SaaS like MFA, data encryption, IAM, and account access control need to be implemented to mitigate the risks involved with using SaaS applications. 
  • You need a strong SaaS security solution to help you identify where the biggest risks in your SaaS app are so you can address them effectively.

SaaS Application Security Risks

Although SaaS has revolutionized many businesses, there are multiple security risks and threats that impact these applications.

Here are five of the most frequently encountered issues:

1. Misconfiguration

A misconfiguration is an incorrect setup of SaaS applications leaving them vulnerable to security threats. Not enabling multi-factor authentication is a type of misconfiguration that allows hackers to access your system since security is weak.

2. Shadow IT

The unauthorized use of IT hardware or software without the knowledge of the IT or security team. As security teams focus on the SaaS apps they’re aware of, some employees may create SaaS accounts outside the department’s purchasing process resulting in a loss of user data.

3. Poor Access Control Management

Without proper access control measures in place, SaaS companies risk exposing their sensitive documents to external parties. Anyone on the web could also easily access such private information leading to legal issues.

4. Insider Threat

An insider threat is a cyber security risk coming from inside an organization. While it may not necessarily have malicious intent, those with access to sensitive information are still a risk to any company. And can result in data leaks.

5. Storage

SaaS applications have their own servers for storing user data, but users have limited control over what happens to it. SaaS providers must have a comprehensive security strategy to avoid data leaks or breaches.

Security Practices For SaaS 

The following security practices for SaaS will help improve security in your cloud-based applications and networks:

Multi Step Verification 

Multi-step verification, also known as Multi-Factor Authentication (MFA), is a security procedure that mandates users to submit varied identity verification information before gaining access to a cloud-based application or network. Even in the event that a hacker manages to obtain your password, they will be unable to infiltrate the system without the additional verification factors.

How MFA Works

Identity and access management systems assess you for your specific characteristics to ensure you are who you say you are before giving you access to a software application. These characteristics are the “authentication factors” and the three most recognized ones are:

  1. Knowledge: Information only you would know, like your password or PIN.
  2. Possession: Items only you would own, like a smartphone or hardware token.
  3. Inherence: Your unique characteristics, like your fingerprint or voice.

Types of MFA

SaaS providers can customize their security measures with these MFA authentication techniques:

  • SMS: Users get a one-time code through text message to enter alongside their passwords. The best part about it is that you can get the texts offline.
  • Apps: Apps like Google and Microsoft Authenticator or Free OTP create time-sensitive codes for user login.
  • Biometric: Fingerprint scans, facial recognition, and voiceprints for logins.
  • Hardware tokens: Physical tools that generate unique codes for authentication purposes.

More than 80% of cybersecurity breaches are caused by passwords that are either weak or stolen. Multi-step verification enhances the security of accessing data for users, resulting in a better user experience. SaaS businesses can also cut costs with MFA by decreasing the requirement for additional security measures such as firewalls and antivirus software.

Data Security Through Encryption

Data encryption involves converting data into a code that can only be decoded with a specific decryption key. If an individual takes your information from the servers of the provider, they will be unable to access it without a password.

Every organization needs two types of encryption: data encryption in transit and at rest.

Data Encryption in Transit

This encryption secures data as it moves between the user’s device and the servers of the SaaS provider. Security teams employ encryption protocols such as SSL and TLS to encode sensitive data prior to transmission, guaranteeing its security in case of interception. The encryption algorithm here transforms data into confusing ciphertext useless to unauthorized personnel.

Data Encryption at Rest

Data encryption at rest is protecting information stored inside the SaaS provider’s servers. Providers use measures like disk or file-level encryption to protect user data against unauthorized access during cyber attacks. Authorized users can only decrypt the information using a special password.

Encrypting data in SaaS environments hinders cybercriminals from obtaining sensitive information and helps the business adhere to data protection rules. Clients will feel more secure and confident in your system when they know their information is protected.

Identity and Access Management (IAM) 

IAM is a system in a company that manages access to resources, determines the level of access, and controls data access methods. The procedure includes establishing and overseeing user accounts, creating passwords, and granting permissions to appropriate staff. 

Since SaaS companies always store data in the cloud, an IAM solution helps keep this data safe in the following ways:

  1. Managing access to your data
  2. Restricting user actions with your data
  3. Observing user activity
  4. Enforcing policy compliance

With the right IAM tool for your SaaS company, you can better secure your data, reduce operating costs through resource organization, and give all users a positive experience with your cloud-based application or network.

Safeguarding Account Access 

SaaS application providers need data access policies to control who can access data and what they can do with it. A strong data access policy specifies the user roles, permissions, and the required authentication procedures. It also outlines the procedures for providing, changing, and removing access privileges.

Businesses must regularly review and update their policies to adapt to changing business needs, technological progress, and regulatory modifications. In this manner, they will reduce security threats and guarantee the security of their data at all times.

Cloud-Based Strong Authentication Solutions 

When data and applications are cloud-based, user access is remote. SaaS companies need access controls for resources both in the cloud and data centers to prevent unauthorized access to user data. Cloud-based strong authentication solutions verify the user’s identity beyond just a username and password.

The following are examples of strong authentication factors: 

  • Multi-Factor Authentication (MFA) requires users to provide multiple forms of identity verification before accessing a network.
  • Adaptive authentication: It changes authentication requirements depending on factors like the user’s location, device, or sensitivity of the access data.
  • SSO paired with MFA allows users to securely log in once and access multiple SaaS applications.

How to Protect Your Clients 

SaaS adoption continues to grow every day, which directly influences the levels of threats that these cloud-based applications and networks receive. If you own a SaaS application or network, you need to protect your clients with the best security practices for SaaS from comprehensive solutions that include:

  • Multi-factor authentication
  • Regular security audits
  • Data encryption in both transit and at rest
  • Disaster recovery
  • Penetration testing
  • Employee training on security best practices

With the best security practices discussed here, you can protect your clients and save your business from the shameful consequences of a security breach. Security isn’t a product. But rather a continuous process and needs constant review and improvement.