Placing data on the cloud always looks like a good idea – many large firms are doing it, and there appears to be an infinite amount of room. However, much like any other online platform, a SaaS company must manage security concerns.
Data breaches, illegal access to sensitive information, and probable identity theft are all major SaaS security risks.
Online hackers are fully aware of the vulnerabilities in SaaS apps or cloud-hosted programs that emphasize internet-only access.
Despite the fact that many businesses have embraced SaaS-based digital projects because of their security benefits, there are still certain issues to be concerned about.
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Cyber Security Concerns in the Modern World
In the modern world, data breaches are becoming more and more common. It isn’t surprising that a hacker published over 200,000 individuals’ personal information on a publicly accessible server.
As is the case with all technology in the modern world, most of this data is available to the public, and so it doesn’t seem all that shocking that a hacker would be able to take it.
The only problem is that this incident took place, at the same time, as a massive data breach on Yahoo!
Yahoo! has experienced its own share of security issues, as well. Most notably, in 2013, a hack revealed the data of some 3 billion people. This leak was even more alarming, as it involved the email addresses and passwords of a majority of the world’s population.
SaaS Security Issues
In 2016, cybersecurity firm Positive Technologies released its annual report on the state of SaaS security. They revealed that over 80% of all SaaS security breaches took place because users gave bad permissions or changed settings. The top security issues are explained next.
#1 Unauthorized access
Customers can be compromised when using SaaS applications since the control and visibility are not on the same level as some other platforms. The level of access that users are given is not controlled by the IT department. So, it is possible that some data may be deleted or leaked, even though that is highly unlikely.
#2 Phishing attacks
90% of cyberattacks start with a phishing email containing malware via external links or attachments. They can also cheat the user of their personal information or steal their identity.
When users are required authentication to access their accounts in cloud-based SaaS services, there is a considerable risk of phishing.
A user should be aware while clicking on a link as the link may redirect to unknown site or insecure website. If a user accidentally visits such site, then, check secured padlock and HTTPS in the browser. Further, a user can click on a padlock to check the issuing authority (CA) of a certificate. SSL certificate should be from reputed authorities. SaaS providers can check for low priced SSL like RapidSSL, cheap wildcard SSL from well-known CA, multi domain SSL for better security.
#3 Data theft
One of the biggest SaaS security issues is unapproved data access.
The data must be relocated and secured outside of the company data center. That way, the company’s IT staff in charge of SaaS security has less visibility.
The more sensitive the data, the more cautious the organization must be. Customers’ personal information, payment information, and intellectual property are all included.
Hackers are constantly on the search for security flaws or hidden vulnerabilities in applications that may be exploited.
Good hackers easily find new ways to break any security barrier.
Almost half of all SaaS businesses have some kind of vulnerability or malware in their cloud-based applications.
Hackers have turned their attention to applications that allow for file sharing and storage, and there isn’t a day that goes by without a ransomware attack.
#5 Account takeovers
Account takeover assaults, which depict scenarios where workers have lost control of their accounts, make use of corporate credentials via phishing attacks.
Hackers often get these credentials via the Dark Web by exploiting third-party data breaches. Employees are then threatened with privilege escalation or full access advantages if they don’t hand over these credentials.
Because the assault is carried out through the employee’s account, which is presumed to be authentic, such attacks might go unreported for a dangerously long period of time.
#6 Compliance requirements
In terms of compliance and auditing formalities, each industry and its organizations have various needs. GDPR (General Data Protection Regulation), HIPAA (Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act), PCI-DSS (Credit Card Industry Data Security Standard), and SOX (Securities and Exchange Commission) are just a few well-known examples.
Data protection standards, cloud compliance, regular audits, and security testing are all part of these compliance requirements. As a result, companies must prioritize the security of sensitive data, monitor user activity through logs on a regular basis, and mandate audit trails for the essential SaaS apps.
Penetration testing can help with this. However, relying on security testing might put businesses in danger.
Although penetration testing and other security validation procedures are beneficial, they can lead to a false feeling of security, especially given the dynamic nature of the SaaS environment.
When a privileged user enters the SaaS environment through an endpoint not covered by the tests, the findings provided by a pentest or security validation process become invalid, especially if it is not continuous.
A third-party program may not be updated, or a misconfiguration may occur, resulting in a security flaw that is not reflected in the security validation results.
What can SaaS companies do?
While these risks vary from organization to organization, no SaaS company is immune to data breaches. Companies can help prevent data breaches by restricting access to SaaS-based digital projects.
Fortunately, there are many things that can be done to lower the risk of a data breach at a SaaS company.
At the very least, SaaS companies should follow known information security guidelines like ISO 270001. Of course, this won’t guarantee complete security, but it will create acceptable internal and customer-facing cybersecurity standards.
All of this will necessitate firms hiring people capable of creating and enforcing stringent information security rules.
If no one person is solely responsible for cybersecurity, there is a risk of it being overlooked. This would expose the company to danger, especially as it grows.
A weakly secured business with 500 users isn’t worth a hacker’s effort, but one with 50,000 users is.
To produce and share information security standards, in-house security teams should collaborate with customer-facing teams. This will not only help users avoid triggering a breach through the platform, but it will also restrict the platform’s culpability in the event that one does occur.
SaaS applications had gained popularity, particularly during the pandemic, when the world was on the verge of a full digital revolution. As a result, SaaS security hardening measures have been applied appropriately across enterprises.
To maintain the security of their SaaS applications, businesses should adhere to the most recent industry standards and deployment approaches.
How businesses can think ahead
The basis for successful third-party risk management is a clear, detailed contract with your SaaS provider. This is where you can identify the vulnerabilities that are important to you and discuss the steps that the SaaS provider will need to take to mitigate them.
Many SaaS companies provide clients with minimal leeway when it comes to contract negotiations.
Nevertheless, the contract is essential since it clarifies your risks. You can then design the compliance policies and controls you’ll need to properly employ those SaaS providers.
Furthermore, many SaaS providers will work with you to negotiate contract conditions. You’ll want to think about a few key clauses in such circumstances.
- Information on security issues that may have an impact on your company. You want to be aware of any occurrence that might jeopardize your company’s compliance, litigation, or operations.
- Guarantees on sub-contractors. Specify if you want the SaaS provider to outsource any of its services to a third party and, if so, how you want your data to be secured.
- Right to audit the vendor’s privacy and security controls. Without it, you must rely on the vendor to enable an audit, which they may refuse at any time.
- Termination right. Identify when the contract will expire; otherwise, if the relationship isn’t for a set amount of time, state how much warning each party should give the other.
- Data deletion or storage. Include a clause specifying when the vendor should remove any of your data it may have (when you switch SaaS providers), as well as if the vendor should keep any data for the long term.
Cyber Security for Businesses
On average, there are 33 instances of an email being hacked and accessed. That’s only a fraction of the expected costs of a corporate breach. According to research from Coalfire, lost productivity in America from cyber security breaches costs more than $6 trillion, and that does not include consumer costs.
While some of this cost can be recovered from insurance. The recovery rates for stolen data are generally much lower than for physical property losses.
Imagine the loss that a New York web design company would have if hackers got ahold of their data – it would be devastating for both the company and the users since all of the users’ information would now be out in the open, available for anyone to see and (mis)use.
Fortunately, there are some key ways to lower these risks and stay secure to prevent such losses.
In the age of online banking, storing sensitive data and personal information online can prove to be a liability for any company.
If you are a business using a cloud-based program or software. There are many important issues to be aware of when it comes to data protection.
Partnerships and ownership with partners, service providers, and vendors can be key in ensuring data is protected and safe.
If you are not familiar with the security of your cloud-based SaaS application, you should get in touch with an IT company to help you find out about your options.
Rick Seidl is a digital marketing specialist with a bachelor’s degree in Digital Media and Communications, based in Portland, Oregon. With a burning passion for digital marketing, social media, small business development, and establishing its presence in a digital world, currently quenching his thirst through writing about digital marketing and business strategies for Find Digital Agency.