Software-as-a-Service organizations are extending at the speed of light thanks to their affordable infrastructure requirements, scalability, and simple upgrades. Reliable protection of the SaaS app roots in implementing top-level SaaS security. It requires realizing possible vulnerabilities and security breaches that may take place. To ensure the safety of your SaaS project, look at the recommendations from Intellisoft below.
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What Is SaaS?
If you decipher the abbreviation, SaaS is software as a service (a.k.a. on-demand software or web-hosted software). It is a software licensing and delivery model in which an app is licensed on a subscription basis and is centrally hosted.
The term was first discussed in 2010-2011 when the software consumption model changed. Then, it was unusual that the software could be located somewhere else except for the user’s laptop or neighboring server room.
It is a model in which the service provider holds the software, and you use it from a browser or through an additional application. You have to buy software, pay for a license, and install it on a computer. SaaS is used on a subscription basis for as long as you need, and it’s not a lifetime license purchase. So you can use it as you need and expand.
For example, if you hire new employees, you pay more for the software; if you fire people, you pay less. SaaS is also revealed in the subscription model, which grew along with this concept.
Many small companies want to use the software, but they do not have system administrators to maintain it and make necessary backups. In the SaaS model, these tasks are carried out by the service provider. It is easier for many to use a subscription model and pay a small amount every month than to buy expensive software at once.
Another important thing is that the user is accustomed to the fact that their data is not stored locally in one place but is available across different devices: laptop, tablet, smartphone, etc. Local software is not suitable for this, which means that there must be a service that can be accessed from anywhere.
Why You Need a SaaS Security Checklist
Why is securing SaaS applications essential? As reported by Markets & Markets, a joint mid-market enterprise of 1,000 staff uses roughly 150 SaaS instruments. Yet, many of those companies do not possess the right security mindset necessary to guarantee infrastructure safety.
Right, SaaS safety is complex because of the shared responsibility model. This model is proposed by the cloud. Keeping your data protected is your liability instead of the cloud providers. However, it does not mean that SaaS solutions consist of pitfalls only. They can significantly improve your business operations and performance, providing plenty of benefits.
1. Easy to implement
Your SaaS app is ready to go as soon as you’re connected to it. You access it through the cloud, which reduces installation time and eliminates most of the problems associated with software deployment. Cloud SaaS security is time-tested, and this method of storing data safely is proven.
SaaS applications are several times cheaper than traditional solutions. It is achieved due to lower costs for licensing during the development stage, as well as due to a tremendous customer base – the SaaS model is used by many small and medium-sized businesses, for which traditional solutions are not available due to high cost.
3. Availability from different devices and locations
You can use a SaaS app without being tied to a specific location or device. Because it doesn’t install on any single computer or smartphone, you and your employees get convenient access to it, no matter where you are or what device you’re currently using.
In addition, if you suddenly want to expand, you will not need to buy new devices – you just choose the subscription plan that gives access to more features, capacities, or more users.
SaaS applications are very easy to use because they apply the best practices and solutions. Moreover, users can check in advance how successful a particular solution is. Before the final update, the developer always gives users the opportunity to test new software features.
SaaS providers are constantly updating their solutions. These updates become available immediately without messing around with all sorts of reinstallations. Often, they are free, but even when you have to pay, they cost much less than traditional solutions.
Sure thing, SaaS is not perfect. It still has disadvantages to consider, but it’s possible to overcome some of them.
1. No local database
It’s time to add a few more words about SaaS cloud security. When using cloud-based solutions, the entire business database is located at the service provider. Such a schematic diagram can be attributed to a disadvantage when the client needs to integrate with the local system or change software completely. All the necessary information can be obtained either through the web interface (if it is possible to export the necessary data in a convenient format) or with the help of technical specialists of the SaaS platform provider.
Also, when choosing a business solution, it is necessary to take into account the reliability of the SaaS software developer, which will ensure the safety and confidentiality of your data. If possible, sign a contract with the description of all controversial issues.
2. Inflexibility of the system functionality
In most cases, the solutions that provide all kinds of SaaS systems are universal for a specific niche of doing business; the flexibility of the platforms is relatively small. Therefore, when choosing the necessary software, it’s vital to select the most suitable option for your tasks and take into account the possibility of developing and upgrading the system for your goals and desires in the future. On the other hand, SaaS vendors, in most cases, provide the latest software features that help standardize processes and improve performance.
Taking into account all the advantages and disadvantages of SaaS solutions, we can argue that cloud software has made business solutions more adaptive and affordable for companies, regardless of their size, and significantly improved the ease of use of many business tools. With software as a service, service providers take care of SaaS application security, availability, and performance, meaning that these systems are the most efficient and secure solutions for running a business today.
Identifying Common SaaS-Related Cybersecurity Threats
Have a look at the most common SaaS security concerns, as well as some possible solutions and tips.
Threat #1 – Remote Access or Work-From-Home Threats
This cybersecurity threat has emerged recently and has caused serious concern in 2020. When the world was trapped in the COVID-19 pandemic, organizations had to switch to remote work. Many organizations have lost important information and some of their revenue due to remote work threats without the proper expertise and technology.
Threat #2 – Phishing
Phishing is the most popular choice among cyber attackers as emails are the most preferred means of interacting with people. It is a type of social engineering attack in which hackers use a fake email ID to trick a target user.
This can be done by stealing important information, installing malware, or forcing a target user to visit a faulty website.
Previously, phishing was only possible via email. However, now, its concept has been changed, and this activity exists in the form of spear phishing, fake websites, link manipulation, session hijacking, content injection, etc. It’s so common that 22% of all cyber violations in 2019 were phishing-related.
No matter what, don’t reveal important information from unreliable sources. Finally, install the anti-phishing toolbar in your browser. These tools will keep you informed of any suspicious emails or messages.
Threat #3 – Malvertising
Malicious advertising refers to fake ads that pop up in advertising networks of trusted websites; links lead to dangerous resources that can infect the computer with a virus instead of the advertised content.
Threat #4 – Malware and Ransomware
Malware and ransomware are the most common cybersecurity threats as of today. These threats may lead to system failure, data loss, system hijacking, etc. Small businesses suffer the most from attacks of this type.
What is the solution? To ensure that your business and system are protected from malware and ransomware, update all your software and hardware. Legacy systems are most vulnerable to security vulnerabilities. Use plugins to play on click. Such plugins help keep Flash or Java running until the link is clicked. Finally, make sure you uninstall the old software that you’re not using.
Threat #5 – Database Access
Database discovery is one of the most common cybersecurity threats facing today’s businesses. It happens in different ways: for example, a hacker uses social engineering to steal login details, financial records, and other sensitive information.
Database disclosure threats can be avoided using a private server and user authentication for sensitive documents. A database firewall and a web application firewall are intelligent ways to protect your data.
Provide access to the server only to a limited number of people. The more logins on the server, the higher the risks are.
Aside from making the decisions mentioned above to combat a specific cybersecurity attack, there are certain IT or cybersecurity practices that businesses should adhere to in order to reduce the likelihood of an attack from cybersecurity threats.
Threat #6 – Attacks on Social Media
The rise of social media has provided a great opportunity for hackers. Users are easily seduced and deceived on social networks. So far, hackers have attacked people on social media. As companies’ presence on social media grows, they risk becoming victims.
So, what might be the solution? If you have your company’s social media page, make sure you apply good verification and authentication practices. Never go to websites with shortened URLs.
Best SaaS Security Practices
Since the second half of 2016, the number of ransomware attacks has increased significantly worldwide. The RaaS (Ransomware-as-a-Service) approach is also growing in popularity, meaning that anyone can launch a large-scale and dangerous attack. Previously, a cybercriminal needed to have serious baggage of technical knowledge, but with the advent of RaaS, even a beginner can become a threat. According to experts, this method brought more than $1 billion to hackers over the past year. The virus most often gets to the computer via e-mail, but this is not the only option.
We have collected the time-tested SaaS security practices for you. There is no such thing as the SaaS best practice, so we recommend implementing as many ideas listed below as possible.
- Certification in accordance with international standards of information.
- Security (ISO standard 27001).
- Access to SaaS only from trusted hosts.
- Alignment of SaaS activities and structure in compliance with user regulations.
- Firewalls and VLANs as you go.
- IDS – systems (detection systems).
- IPS systems (prevention systems).
- Careful logging of all kinds of activities, starting with routers, firewalls, IDS, IPS, databases, and ending with app code.
- The server for storing logs must be independent of the hardware on which it is deployed.
- Up-to-date antivirus updates on each server.
- Strong passwords.
- Unique login for every user. There should be no merge with existing accounts (OAuth).
Finally, SaaS apps should not be running under an administrator account under any circumstances. These rules can prevent you from severe cyber threats and security issues.
The economy is moving in the outsourcing direction. There is no point in owning something if you can rent it. With outsourced solutions, you should not worry about maintenance and can even cut expenses. It is also true for software – thanks to SaaS, you will get a ready-made solution that will adapt to your needs and save you time and money.
Despite still not standardized approaches to protecting confidential data in SaaS, such services are gaining popularity due to their undeniable advantages. Those are, for instance, relatively low cost of ownership and speed of deployment for enterprises. Implementation of the above-mentioned practices will increase the safety of using SaaS.