Blue Goat Cyber

Ensuring Compliance and Security: How Penetration Testing Benefits SaaS Companies

Pen testing is one of the best proactive cybersecurity strategies that a business can undertake. They offer a transparent view of risks and vulnerabilities you cannot attain from other practices. Penetration testing benefits for SaaS companies include meeting compliance requirements, improving security, supporting product iteration, and maintaining uptime for the application.

SaaS Penetration Testing

Most SaaS companies realize the value of pen testing and its advantages. However, factors that impact the quality and frequency of pen tests come into play. With multiple pen test types and methods, understanding what you need can sometimes be overwhelming. So, we put together this comprehensive guide that spells out how you can realize the benefits of pen testing.

The Cybersecurity Risk Landscape for SaaS Companies

SaaS solution providers have a long list of security concerns, and at the top is how to protect the actual application and its endpoints. Once the product is in the market, a company’s profitability and longevity depend on how reliable, secure, and stable it is. Unfortunately, hackers don’t make it easy.

Most issues with SaaS align with the OWASP Top Ten, with the most common being broken access control, injection, insecure design, and software and data integrity failures. Many of these issues are identifiable in code review, but this doesn’t offer the complete story. Using pen tests delivers a better understanding of mitigation.

The rate of cyber-attacks on SaaS has grown. According to the SaaS Security Survey Report, 55% of organizations had an incident in the past two years, increasing 12%. Data leakage, malicious apps, breaches, ransomware, corporate espionage, and insider attacks were the most common.

SaaS cybersecurity is also a dynamic landscape. There are always new versions to push out, integrations to create, and migrations to consider. Most SaaS organizations have embraced DevSecOps for product iteration, aspiring to be secure by design. These best intentions don’t always come to fruition, and cyber criminals are eager to infilter SaaS products to steal data and cause havoc.

With this persistent, high level of risk, SaaS companies must constantly reinvent their cybersecurity strategies. Pen testing should always have a place here.

Benefits of Pen Tests for SaaS Companies

So, why should you engage in regular penetration tests? Their benefits align with several business areas, from demonstrating product integrity to meeting regulatory requirements and improving the product.

Pen Tests Demonstrate the Product’s Integrity to Customers

SaaS businesses that are B2B models must present their software as secure and reliable, no matter who the end users are. Many potential customers may even request a pen test or proof that your company does them often. Enterprises aren’t keen to provide platforms to workers that they can’t trust. You are taking on the risk and security of the application and its infrastructure on their behalf, and they need to know their data is safe and performance is consistent. The same thing is true of companies you partner with for integrations, which are crucial to the application’s adaptability and ability to win market share.

Achieving Compliance Requirements Involves Pen Testing

In addition to customers and partners requiring pen tests, most will also ask about compliance qualifications. Most all SaaS companies will need to be SOC 2 Type 2 compliant. Additionally, you may have industry-specific ones like HIPAA for healthcare and PCI DSS for any products with credit card transactions.

SOC 2 Type 2

You’ll need a firm to conduct a SOC 2 Type 2 pen test. It involves five areas:

  • Security
  • Availability
  • Processing integrity
  • Confidentiality
  • Privacy

These five make up the Trust Service Principles (TSP). A SOC 2 Type 2 pen test involves all the typical steps and concludes with a report from your provider that includes:

  • IP addresses, URLs, mobile apps, and APIs tested
  • Vulnerabilities discovered in the test
  • The steps of the assessment
  • Exploitable areas found
  • Recommendations prioritized from most urgent to least

Learn more about SOC 2 Type 2 pen tests.


HIPAA doesn’t explicitly require pen testing, but it can be crucial to satisfy the obligations for “periodic technical and nontechnical evaluation.” NIST 800-66 for HIPAA recommends it, and they support compliance with the HIPAA Security Rule, HIPAA Privacy Rule, and Breach Notification Rule.

Learn more about HIPAA penetration testing.


PCI-DSS, the Payment Card Industry Data Security Standard, has four levels of compliance related to credit card transactions. All of these involve a PCI scan. To reach the highest level, you must conduct internal audits. PCI penetration testing assesses the controls used to protect the Cardholder Data Environment (CDE) for PCI-DSS, and Requirement 11.4 states that organizations must define, document, and implement a penetration testing method to include:

  • Industry-accepted penetration testing approaches and methodologies
  • Coverage for the entire CDE perimeter and critical systems
  • Testing of both internal and external networks
  • Testing to validate CDE segmentation and scope reduction controls
  • Application-layer penetration testing to identify, at a minimum, the vulnerabilities listed in Requirement 6.2.4
  • Network-layer penetration tests encompassing all components supporting network functions, including operating systems
  • Reviewing and consideration of threats and vulnerabilities experienced in the last year
  • Documented approach to assessing and addressing the risks of exploitable vulnerabilities and security weaknesses found during the pen test
  • Retention of pen testing results and remediation activities results for the last year

Learn more about PCI penetration tests.

Pen Testing Can Guide Development Work

What the pen testers uncover can be very helpful for the development team. Since pen tests give weight to the vulnerabilities discovered, they help developers prioritize better. Through these exercises, you have more visibility into the maturity, recurring issues, and weak controls present in the application. They are like clues that enable a team to conclude changes that will boost the product’s performance.

For example, if the pen test highlights that there were many injection-related vulnerabilities, the indication would be that you need more robust sanitization standards. Finding any problem before hackers or users do becomes a type of business intelligence your development team wouldn’t otherwise have.

Errors Can Decrease with Continuous Pen Testing

In addition to guiding development work, pen tests can also play a role in decreasing errors. Pen tests offer developers insight into how hackers approach a SaaS attack, as the testers use the same techniques. That’s why letting developers be part of the pen test process, including discussions and report reviews, is crucial.

With continuous pen testing, there could be patterns of errors. If developers have this data, they can assess what happened in coding and will likely avoid the mistake in future iterations or products.

Cost Savings Come with Proactive Security Plans

The costs involved with development can balloon when a security flaw arises. How much depends on who found it. If it’s hackers, you’ve got a breach, which can be astronomical. If a user identifies it, you’ll lose their business. You can hope that developers catch it, but it may not be visible to them in testing environments.

Ideally, you want pen testers to locate these. Pen tests should be constant and occur before big releases to find vulnerabilities before shipping out. When the “finder” is your pen tester, you can fix things quickly before they cost you.

Performance and Uptime Can Improve with Pen Tests

Another benefit of pen tests for SaaS companies is that they make the product more reliable and have greater uptime. Unplanned downtime can be devastating for SaaS organizations. If users suddenly can’t log into your software, it can have severe consequences, from loss of revenue to patient safety.

Since hackers are constantly finding new ways to infiltrate SaaS environments and seize operations with ransomware, it’s a concern that’s only growing. Pen tests mimic an actual attack, and with a double-blind test, your internal security people will respond as if it’s a real threat. This tests your incident response plan, and any findings enhance the security posture of your architecture, ensuring continued uptime.

Get the Most Benefits from SaaS Pen Tests with the Right Partner

SaaS penetration testing partner - Blue Goat Cyber

Striving toward security, compliance, and reliability are the core components of cybersecurity practices. Each gets a boost from pen tests, but you’ll only achieve this with the right partner.

When evaluating options, look for these attributes:

  • Be sure they use human testers, not just automated scans, prone to false positives and negatives.
  • Evaluate their experience with SaaS companies and familiarity with the regulations impacting your business.
  • Check their credentials, such as:
    • CISSP (Certified Information Systems Security Professional)
    • CSSLP (Certified Secure Software Life Cycle Professional)
    • OSWE (Offensive Security Web Expert)
    • OSCP (Offensive Security Certified Professional)
    • CRTE (Certified Red Team Expert)
    • CBBH (Certified Bug Bounty Hunter)
    • CRTL (Certified Red Team Lead)
    • CARTP (Certified Azure Red Team Professional)
  • Look at a sample report before they perform a test. Many vendors issue reports that are overly complicated and not transparent.
  • Inquire about remediation validation tests (RVTs). They should be part of the deliverables, as you want confirmation that the remediation of vulnerabilities was successful.
  • Ask lots of questions about their methods and approaches. With so many ways to complete a pen test, you want to know they have proficiency in all types.

Asking the Right Questions When Choosing a SaaS Penetration Testing Service be Beneficial

Asking the right questions when selecting a SaaS penetration testing service can yield a range of benefits and help avoid undesirable and unintended outcomes. By thoroughly questioning, you can establish clear expectations for yourself and the penetration tester, ensuring that your SaaS infrastructure receives the appropriate attention and protection it requires. At Blue Goat Cyber, we have successfully assisted numerous SaaS businesses in identifying and rectifying critical vulnerabilities within their infrastructure. With our expertise, we can guide you toward making your SaaS business more secure through the effective application of penetration testing.

Blue Goat Cyber is happy to say we meet all these requirements. We have extensive experience working with SaaS companies for penetration testing. Get started today by requesting a consultation.

SaaS and SOC 2 Penetration Testing FAQs

Please schedule a 30-minute Discovery Session with us so we can best understand your objectives.

Penetration testing for SaaS companies, also known as SaaS penetration testing, is a critical practice that offers several benefits. It helps SaaS providers meet compliance requirements, enhance security measures, support product iteration, and ensure the continuous uptime of their applications. Safeguarding the actual SaaS application and its endpoints is a top priority for these providers, as the profitability and longevity of their business rely on the reliability, security, and stability of their offerings.

SaaS solutions face numerous security concerns, and ensuring the protection of their applications and data is paramount. Common security issues in the SaaS industry often align with the OWASP Top Ten, including broken access control, injection attacks, insecure design, and software and data integrity failures. While some of these issues can be identified through code review, it is essential to have a comprehensive understanding of the potential vulnerabilities. This is where penetration testing comes into play, providing a more thorough evaluation and enabling effective mitigation strategies.

Penetration testing involves a detailed assessment of all components of a SaaS business, going beyond code review to identify hidden security vulnerabilities that may not be immediately apparent. By conducting penetration tests, SaaS owners can gain valuable insights into the current security posture of their products, bridge existing security gaps, and identify areas for improvement. This proactive approach empowers SaaS companies to address security concerns before they become exploited by malicious actors.

SOC 2 Type I and Type II reports provide valuable insights into an organization's information security controls and its commitment to cybersecurity. Here are the key differences between the two:

1. Scope of Examination:
- SOC 2 Type I: This report focuses on an organization's information security controls at a specific point in time. It aims to determine if these controls are suitable and implemented effectively to meet the desired objectives.
- SOC 2 Type II: In contrast, this report evaluates an organization's security controls over a period of time, typically ranging from 3 to 12 months. It aims to assess the operational effectiveness of the controls and whether they consistently meet the requirements of the AICPA's Trust Services Criteria.

2. Timeframe:
- SOC 2 Type I: The examination is conducted, and the resulting report covers a single point in time, providing a snapshot of the organization's control environment at that moment.
- SOC 2 Type II: The examination assesses the effectiveness of the controls over a defined period, usually for multiple months. This longer timeframe allows for a more comprehensive evaluation of the controls and their sustainability.

3. Objectives:
- SOC 2 Type I: The primary objective of this report is to identify and assess the suitability of the organization's information security controls, ensuring they are in place and functioning as intended.
- SOC 2 Type II: In addition to assessing the controls and their suitability, this report also focuses on verifying the operational effectiveness of the controls. It looks at whether the controls consistently meet the requirements specified by the AICPA's Trust Services Criteria.

4. Customer Assessment:
- SOC 2 Type I: This report is valuable for customers seeking to understand an organization's information security controls at a specific point in time. It provides insights into the control environment but does not offer long-term performance or sustainability indicators.
- SOC 2 Type II: Customers interested in assessing an organization's long-term commitment to information security and cybersecurity would find this report more valuable. It comprehensively evaluates the controls over an extended period, demonstrating their ongoing effectiveness and the organization's commitment to maintaining a secure environment.

While SOC 2 Type I provides a snapshot of an organization's controls at a specific time, SOC 2 Type II offers a more thorough assessment of the controls' operational effectiveness over an extended period. Both reports have distinct values and purposes, depending on the customers' needs and requirements.

We follow a seven phase methodology designed to maximize our efficiency, minimize risk, and provide complete and accurate results. The overarching seven phases of the methodology are:

  1. Planning and Preparation
  2. Reconnaissance / Discovery
  3. Vulnerability Enumeration / Analysis
  4. Initial Exploitation
  5. Expanding Foothold / Deeper Penetration
  6. Cleanup
  7. Report Generation

SaaS Penetration Testing by Blue Goat Cyber involves a comprehensive assessment of the SaaS application to identify vulnerabilities that could be exploited by cyber attackers. This testing is critical for ensuring the security of both the application and the data it handles, especially considering the sensitivity of client data typically managed by SaaS platforms.

The process includes various types of penetration tests such as network, web application, API, and internal testing, among others. Each of these tests is designed to simulate real-world cyber attacks and uncover potential security weaknesses. The aim is not only to identify vulnerabilities but also to understand their impact and the potential ways they could be exploited.

After the completion of the testing, Blue Goat Cyber provides a detailed report with findings and recommendations. This report includes prioritized, actionable steps that the SaaS provider can take to mitigate identified risks. The insights gained from this testing enable SaaS companies to strengthen their security posture, ensuring the protection of their platforms and maintaining the trust of their users.

By offering SaaS Penetration Testing, Blue Goat Cyber demonstrates its commitment to catering to the specific needs of diverse industries, ensuring that their cybersecurity solutions are aligned with the unique challenges and requirements of each sector they serve.

SaaS penetration testing consists of several stages to assess a SaaS solution's security thoroughly. These stages are as follows:

1. Pre-engagement & Scoping: This initial stage involves discussing the objectives, compliance requirements, and overall scope of the SaaS penetration test. It is an opportunity for the SaaS owner to communicate their expectations and for the security engineer to understand the depth and breadth of the testing. The scope usually covers multiple aspects, such as the SaaS application itself, user roles, cloud infrastructure, APIs, integrations, email services, and payment gateways.

2. Vulnerability Assessment: Once the scoping stage is complete, the actual testing begins with a vulnerability assessment. This phase encompasses automated scanning of the entire SaaS infrastructure to identify potential security vulnerabilities. The results of this assessment serve as a foundation for the subsequent testing stages.

3. Exploitation: In this detailed step, the vulnerabilities discovered in the previous stage are further examined to determine their potential impact on the SaaS system. Exploitation involves simulating real-world attacks to assess vulnerabilities thoroughly. As this stage is more in-depth, it goes beyond the scope of a brief explanation.

4. Reporting & Collaboration: Following the exploitation stage, the security engineer compiles a comprehensive report that documents the vulnerabilities found and their potential impact and provides recommendations for remediation. This report is then shared with the SaaS owner for review and collaboration. Collaborative discussions may involve determining the best approach to address the vulnerabilities, clarifying any findings, and planning the next steps.

5. Remediation & Certification: Based on the recommendations provided in the report, the SaaS owner undertakes the necessary actions to fix the identified vulnerabilities. Once the remediation process is complete, the security engineer may conduct a retest to ensure the vulnerabilities have been patched. Upon successful remediation, the SaaS platform can be certified as secure and compliant, assuring both the owner and its users.

By following these five stages, SaaS penetration testing offers a comprehensive approach to identify and address security vulnerabilities in a SaaS solution. Each stage plays a crucial role in improving the overall security posture of the SaaS platform.

Continual two-way collaboration is essential in SaaS penetration testing due to the complex nature of the arrangement. The testing process and subsequent remediation efforts can be hindered without effective communication. Prompt replies to queries and efficient collaboration are crucial when collaborating over email or support platforms.

However, a more streamlined approach is utilizing vulnerability management dashboards for collaboration. This method simplifies the overall process and significantly reduces the time required for remediation by engaging all relevant stakeholders. By fostering a collaborative environment, potential vulnerabilities can be identified and addressed promptly, ensuring the security and performance of the SaaS solution.

After discovering vulnerabilities in SaaS during penetration testing, the subsequent step involves documenting these identified weaknesses. The documentation should include comprehensive information on the impact of each vulnerability, the steps to reproduce them, and the recommended steps to mitigate and fix the respective vulnerabilities. This ensures that the testing process becomes more structured and organized, enabling the development team to effectively address and rectify the identified security issues.

Penetration testing, or pen tests, offers SaaS companies numerous advantages, including enhanced product reliability and increased uptime. The impact of unexpected downtime can be severe for SaaS organizations, leading to revenue loss and potential risks to user safety.

In the ever-evolving landscape of cyber threats, SaaS environments face constant risks from hackers seeking to exploit vulnerabilities and disrupt operations through ransomware attacks. This growing concern necessitates proactive measures to safeguard the integrity of the software. Pen tests play a crucial role as they simulate real-world attacks, allowing internal security teams to respond as if facing an actual threat. By conducting double-blind tests, these assessments evaluate the effectiveness of the incident response plan, further bolstering the security posture of the SaaS architecture and ensuring uninterrupted uptime.

However, it is equally important to consider the steps taken after the client has addressed the reported vulnerabilities. This stage is known as Remediation & Certification in the realm of SaaS penetration testing. Once the client has fixed the identified vulnerabilities, the security team proceeds to validate the effectiveness of the implemented fixes. By conducting comprehensive testing, they ensure the vulnerabilities have been successfully remediated and the SaaS environment is now secure.

Upon completing the testing phase, the security team issues a certification to the SaaS company, serving as tangible proof that the necessary actions have been taken to address the vulnerabilities and meet the required security standards. This certification instills confidence in the SaaS company's clients and demonstrates a commitment to maintaining a robust and secure software ecosystem.

Penetration testing, or pen testing, is vital in guiding the development work of a software-as-a-service (SaaS) application. The findings discovered by pen testers can be highly valuable for the development team, providing crucial insights that help prioritize their efforts. By assigning weight to the vulnerabilities uncovered during pen testing, developers better understand which issues require immediate attention.

However, during the remediation phase, the true impact of pen testing becomes evident. Remediation, in the context of SaaS penetration testing, refers to the critical step of addressing and fixing the vulnerabilities identified by the testers. Armed with the detailed steps to fix shared by the testers, the client takes proactive measures to rectify these security gaps.

This remediation process is crucial as it enables the client to strengthen the security posture of their SaaS application. By diligently following the prescribed steps, the client can ensure that the reported vulnerabilities are effectively resolved. This not only mitigates potential risks but also enhances the overall performance and reliability of the application.

Moreover, through the remediation process, the development team gains deeper visibility into the maturity and recurring issues present in the application. Remediation is a valuable source of information, providing clues that can help the team identify weak controls and areas requiring further attention. These insights empower the team to make informed decisions and implement changes to boost the product's security and performance.

Blue Goat Cyber has a proven track record of providing exceptional assistance to numerous SaaS businesses in enhancing the security of their infrastructures. Our comprehensive expertise has guided countless SaaS businesses in identifying and resolving critical vulnerabilities within their SaaS systems. By leveraging our services, these businesses have significantly improved their security measures. Our tailored solutions and proactive approach ensure that SaaS companies can effectively fortify their platforms and protect sensitive data, ultimately bolstering the overall security of their operations.

The estimated cost of a SOC 2 penetration test can vary depending on the scope and complexity of the assessment. On average, a reputable and accredited cybersecurity firm may charge between $7,000 and $25,000 for such tests. Remember that this price range is for a typical SOC 2 pentest and may differ for more extensive security audits or smaller scopes. It is important to exercise caution when considering providers with significantly lower prices, as their assessments might rely heavily on automated scanners or involve unqualified pen testers. While such low-cost services might meet the requirements of an auditor, they can potentially result in a false sense of security and leave systems vulnerable due to limited evaluations.

The average duration of a SOC 2 penetration test can vary depending on the project's scope. Typically, it ranges from 5 to 25 person days. For cybersecurity assessments of a single website or web application, the duration maybe just a few days. However, it might take several weeks to complete the pentest for extensive cloud infrastructures or complex SaaS platforms. Most penetration tests for SaaS companies are generally finished within one to two weeks, but larger scopes can extend the timeframe further.

SOC 2 penetration testing requirements in 2024 are not obligatory for achieving or maintaining SOC 2 compliance. However, while not mandatory, penetration testing is considered valuable for any organization. Auditors may recommend performing pentesting assessments to supplement the audit process and fulfill specific items in the Trust Services Criteria, particularly in relation to monitoring activities.

Although the criteria for SOC 2 includes a mention of penetration testing, it does not mandate its usage as the sole method for evaluation. Auditors may accept alternative evidence, such as an organization's current ISO 27001 certificate or even evidence from a customer's public bug bounty program, to fulfill the requirements. Interpretation plays a role in determining what satisfies the criteria.

Nonetheless, penetration testing remains a crucial step in meeting SOC 2 requirements. By conducting penetration tests, an organization can identify potential risks and vulnerabilities it may be exposed to and consequently enhance its resilience against cyber attacks.

Penetration testing, often called 'pen testing' or 'ethical hacking,' is crucial in SOC 2 compliance. Its purpose is to simulate cyberattacks on an organization's systems, networks, and applications, to uncover vulnerabilities and weaknesses that malicious actors could exploit. Through this process, potential security risks can be identified and addressed proactively.

SOC 2 requirements related to penetration testing fall under the Trust Services Criteria, particularly the Security and Availability criteria. The security criterion focuses on data protection, access controls, and overall system security. By conducting penetration testing, organizations can ensure that their security controls safeguard sensitive data.

Moreover, it is recommended to supplement manual penetration testing efforts with automated vulnerability scanning tools. These tools can quickly identify common vulnerabilities, further enhancing the effectiveness of the overall testing process.

 Penetration testing serves as a proactive measure to identify vulnerabilities, while vulnerability scanning indicates an organization's security posture.

By combining both activities, organizations can assess the effectiveness of their security controls, identify improvement areas, and fortify their cybersecurity efforts against emerging threats such as ransomware and data breaches. Therefore, penetration testing and vulnerability scanning are crucial components of a comprehensive security program, contributing to the resilience and protection of systems against various cyber threats.

Agile development significantly influences penetration testing for SaaS companies by emphasizing the need for continuous updating and testing of new features. With the rapid release of new features in an agile environment, any untested feature can potentially serve as an open door for attackers to exploit vulnerabilities. This dynamic nature of agile development creates a challenge for traditional penetration testing approaches that might be unable to keep up with the pace of change and adequately address security risks. As a result, integrating security practices into the development process, such as DevSecOps, becomes crucial to effectively mitigate security threats and ensure the resilience of SaaS systems.

Manual testing remains a crucial aspect of security testing due to several reasons. Firstly, the increasing complexity of applications, driven by APIs, requires human expertise to thoroughly examine potential vulnerabilities that automated tools might overlook. Secondly, the speed at which code is now deployed, thanks to DevOps practices, makes it essential to have human testers investigate the application comprehensively to detect critical security threats that automated scanners may not identify. Therefore, while automated tools like vulnerability scanners can be valuable, manual testing by a team of security experts is indispensable for ensuring the robust security of an application.

Blue Goat provides SaaS penetration testing services tailored to the unique compliance and security concerns that SaaS companies encounter in the current landscape. With a team of skilled experts well-versed in the evolving threat scenarios and regulatory requirements, Blue Goat can initiate penetration testing for your SaaS environment promptly, within one business day. Their services are available at a competitive price point, being half the cost of other alternatives in the market. If you are keen to discover more about how their penetration testing solutions can benefit your SaaS business, you can schedule a discovery call with Blue Goat today to explore further.

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