No matter the size or industry, every company uses software-as-a-service (SaaS) platforms. The number of applications an organization uses has grown significantly. Investment in these resources continues to increase as they offer businesses the tools they need to improve productivity, efficiency, and revenue. SaaS systems, however, come with a risk. As a result, SaaS cybersecurity is a priority for those that develop and host them and those that use them.
SaaS developers and users have much to manage when it comes to protecting their data and network. SaaS platforms are an attractive target for many cyber criminals. These applications often have valuable data that any hacker would like to seize and exploit. SaaS cybersecurity is more complex than ever, with new and existing threats impacting strategies and operations.
Since SaaS has unique needs for cybersecurity, it’s critical to understand the state of the environment. In this article, we’ll break down the SaaS Security Survey Report, highlighting challenges and opportunities.
Key Points on the State of SaaS Cybersecurity
The SaaS Security Survey, developed by the Cloud Security Alliance (CSA), involves responses from those in the IT and security professional fields. Those responding came from organizations of various sizes and locations. The goal of the report was to understand:
- The applications SaaS organizations use
- Security policies and processes
- Awareness and experience with SaaS threats
- Current and future solutions for cybersecurity
Here are some interesting findings from the survey and what they say about the state of SaaS cybersecurity:
SaaS Security Incidents Are On The Rise
The survey revealed that 55% of organizations experienced an incident in the past two years. This was a 12% increase from the previous year. The most prevalent types of attacks were:
- Data leakage
- Malicious apps
- Data breaches
- Corporate espionage
- Insider attacks
Operating in the SaaS world, there’s no way to eliminate all threats. The fact that they are increasing isn’t much of a surprise. Overall, the uptick in cyberattacks keeps growing for all verticals. Just because a company is one that fits in the technology space doesn’t mean there aren’t vulnerabilities present and later exploited.
The volume of attacks isn’t likely to slow, and deploying these schemes with hackers for hire is getting easier. Cybercrime-as-a-service is now an option for deploying malware and ransomware. These individuals and groups are relentless in their pursuit of breaching a company’s digital ecosystem. In fact, 88% of professional hackers can infiltrate an organization within 12 hours. So, what can a SaaS company do to limit this exposure and be proactive regarding hacking attempts?
Having a solid and executed cybersecurity strategy is the first step. Developing or updating yours is critical to understanding risk and mitigating it. You can learn more precisely if your practices and policies are performing as they should with a penetration test.
Pen testing allows ethical hackers or testers to attempt to breach and exploit weaknesses. In this case, Black Box Penetration Testing would be the best place to begin. A Black Box Pen Test focuses on external penetration of your internet-facing systems. This simulated attack echoes how an actual hacker would attempt to penetrate your organization. This type of pen test evaluates web servers, VPN connectors, firewalls, routers, embedded systems, and proxy, DNS, email, and custom application servers.
This type of pen testing can be so advantageous in threat protection because experts take the same steps a hacker would. Hopefully, they will do it first and report to you all the current concerns. The key is to fix these vulnerabilities before cybercriminals take advantage of them.
Strategies and Methodologies for SaaS Security Often Fall Short
The survey examined the correlation between a lack of implemented security measures and attacks. Findings included that 58% of organizations said their current security solutions only cover about half of their SaaS applications. Most in the space use Cloud Access Security Brokers (CASBs) and manual audits for security. Unfortunately, these methods are insufficient.
Does this sound familiar? Are you concerned that the breadth of security policies is lacking full coverage of your network? So, what might be missing? The best way to find gaps and close them is with a vulnerability assessment.
It’s a testing process that complements pen testing. The goal is to evaluate the assets on your network to identify if there are any missing patches or misconfigurations. You should consider a network-based and application-based risk assessment. The former investigates applications and machines to identify any security gaps in networks or communications systems. It would analyze devices for compromised passwords and review a system’s ability to defend against common attacks.
The application-based test occurs at the application layer to understand how secure the application is. This would be valuable for your actual SaaS product.
SaaS Security Leadership Is Shifting
Most SaaS companies, even small ones, have a role for security leadership, sometimes a chief information security officer (CISO). This position has been heavily evolving. CISOs were once solely a technical job. Now, the survey noted they are governors, not controllers. The group of stakeholders related to SaaS cybersecurity is growing as well. Do more people in the mix mean security prowess increases?
It certainly provides the visibility required of being cyber literate and resilient. However, it can also create challenges, with people having different priorities and mindsets. The way forward is to cultivate a collaborative and communicative culture. There needs to be more cooperation and involvement in discussions about strategies, practices, and policies. The dialogue needs to be ongoing as your organization attempts to be agile enough to adapt.
SaaS Cybersecurity Priorities
An increase in SaaS applications available to the market and their adoption of them is creating a dynamic ecosystem. The processes your company uses to manage this must evolve. The report spotlighted several priorities that need immediate attention:
- Policies and procedures: First, you need to have them. Then implement them. Finally, you have to measure their effectiveness, which you can do with risk assessments and pen testing.
- Misconfiguration management: A misconfiguration could be the weakness a hacker finds to exploit. Thus, you need to understand the accuracy and completeness of configurations through a vulnerability test and then make adjustments.
- Identity and access governance: Who has access to what? Identity and access governance hinges on being able to know the answer and have control over users. Policies like zero trust architecture is an option. Organizations also need to stay current on removing old users, as these accounts could be easier to hack when unattended.
- Device monitoring: You’ll need to ensure your accounting for all devices on the network and check for vulnerabilities and updates. Likely the number of devices attached to your network increased. Thus, it’s something you need to do regularly.
- Threat detection and response: Being proactive is critical for this area of cybersecurity. There are numerous automated tools for monitoring and threat identification. They can be useful in your day-to-day operations. Pen testing with a simulated attack and response also helps you test your plan. The findings would help you address any gaps.
These findings illustrate the challenges and ways forward for SaaS cybersecurity. We’ve got some additional takeaways next.
Final Takeaways Regarding SaaS Cybersecurity
Any business needs to worry about SaaS cybersecurity. Be sure these things are in your strategy and plans:
- Enhanced authentication: At a minimum, you should have multifactor authentication (MFA). Zero trust is also an option. Review authentication methods regularly to ensure they are adding a layer of protection.
- Data encryption: All data within your applications should involve encryption, whether it’s a rest or in transit. Smart and robust encryption is a critical posture to have to protect against ransomware attacks.
- Penetration testing: Work with an experienced team of testers to carry out pen tests. There are many different types of pen tests. The classifications include the level of access provided and what the ethical hackers are testing. You may need to undertake multiple ones to understand your risk and address gaps. After all, you can’t fix what you don’t know.
- Vulnerability assessments: Along with pen tests, these assessments should be something that regularly occurs. Using the same firm to conduct these will give you a complete picture of where weaknesses lie and how to resolve them.
- Phishing exercises: Phishing is the most common way that hackers try to gain access. They seek to trick users and are doing so in much more sophisticated ways these days. In addition to pen tests and assessments, you can ask your cybersecurity partner to deploy these exercises and provide you with insights on the results that can strengthen your cyber defenses.
Improve Your SaaS Cybersecurity with Expert Support
Creating a safe SaaS cybersecurity environment is a daily struggle—one you can’t do on your own. It would be impossible for most companies to manage this all internally. Many organizations turn to our experts for support with pen tests, vulnerability assessments, and phishing exercises. If you want more confidence an