We live in a technology-driven market where old-school alarm systems are replaced with cloud-based security controls. But what is SaaS (software as a service) security really? To fully understand SaaS security, you must first consider the inherent risk. So let’s take a look at our main characters. The hero? SaaS applications that simplify, streamline and grow almost every aspect of your business. The arch nemesis? Data threats, information security breaches, and cyber-attacks.
Although SaaS organizations have become the Mr. Miyagi of protecting data, as the tech climate adapts faster than ever, there is no rest for even the most prepared SaaS organizations. Hence, the need for omnipresent SaaS security.
So, what is SaaS security really?
SaaS security is the general term for managing, monitoring, and safeguarding your sensitive data from cyber threats, breaches, and violations (both internally and externally). But how does one know whether or not your SaaS security is a strong enough line of defense? Cue your SaaS security frameworks. Some are mandatory; some are not – all are beneficial.
Security frameworks help secure an organization’s security posture and ensure no critical gaps within the organization’s internal structure. Without the proper SaaS security measures, your organization’s safety will be a game of luck, what-ifs, and damage control.
Fortunately, authorities and regulatory bodies worldwide have issued security guidelines such as GDPR (General Data Protection Regulation of EU), ISO 27001, SOC 1, SOC 2, HIPAA and PCI DSS to mitigate risk, ensure that SaaS security isn’t up to fate, and strengthen SaaS organizations and their data. However, although this is a great tool to distinguish which Saas applications are safer than others, the same applies to your organization. Each organization is responsible for ensuring that its tools, processes, and policies leave no room for data risks or threats.
Does your business have the IT (information technology) factor?
Here’s what you need to know (and do) to ensure your organization has a strong SaaS security posture for the new year.
The seven fundamental principles of SaaS security
According to the Cloud Security Alliance, there are seven core principles that all SaaS organizations should focus on regarding their security posture. These principles include:
|Access management||All personnel must understand their role and responsibility regarding access permissions. Organizations should follow role-based access control, system access control as well as workflow management.|
|Virtual machine (VM) management||VMs must be frequently updated to ensure a secure infrastructure.|
|Network control||Create a Virtual Private Network (VPN) layer that acts as a firewall.|
|Perimeter network control||Focus on firewall rules that block malicious traffic from data centers. Additionally, you should implement IDS/IPS systems to detect and prevent intrusions.|
|Data protection||Encrypt sensitive data, separate duties at the client and server side, and conduct regular audits.|
|Incident management||Create an incident management system that records, follows, and oversees particular incidents to alert you about potential security attacks promptly.|
|Reliability||Implement a high-level CN that minimizes downtime for optimal reliability.|
However, trusting that Saas applications do their homework and implement best practices isn’t a security strategy. To ensure that nothing slips through the cracks and to practice due diligence as an organization, there are a few core best practices that you need to follow.
SaaS security best practices
It’s a competitive industry, and unfortunately, there isn’t room for doubt when it comes to security. Without the necessary security measures, growing your business is like building a house of cards. Impressive – but ready to crash down at the slightest tremor. To ensure that you take on 2023 with a strong foundation, here are a few core best practices to implement into your SaaS security.
Best practice 1: Staff training
It may not feel like riveting or groundbreaking advice – but it begs to repeat. Regardless of your industry, your employees are still your first line of defense. Not only is regular staff security awareness training a mandatory requirement for most security frameworks, but it’s also a surefire way of mitigating internal risk. According to BetterCloud’s 2021 State of SaaSOps study, an overwhelming 72% of IT professionals believe that well-meaning yet negligent employees pose the most significant data loss threats.
Best practice 2: Conduct frequent risk assessments
Managing risks is key to having reliable and secure systems and avoiding information security disasters. Frequent risk assessments will allow you to identify, evaluate and address risks within your organization’s systems, people, and processes.
Best practice 3: Define clear security policies
When accessing SaaS within your organization, you must follow clear and intentional IT security policies for accessing, classifying and managing SaaS applications. Information security policies, or IT security policies, allow an organization’s management team to implement administrative controls and ensure that standards are set for information security across the organization.
A data security policy should include, at a minimum, a statement of purpose, a scope of coverage, and information security objectives. The organization should also review and update policies and procedures yearly to ensure they remain up-to-date with changing security standards, processes, and laws.
Best practice 4: Get and stay compliant
Ultimately, implementing an information security framework is the best way to ensure that your organization is one step ahead of the curve. Compliance with security frameworks and regulations help your business consistently monitor and adapt to security risks and challenges. There are various security frameworks (some optional and some not). Through reaching compliance with one or more applicable frameworks, your organization can take advantage of industry-specific best practices, security controls and risk mitigation strategies.