In our modern world, using Software as a Service (SaaS) applications has become a common practice for the vast majority of businesses. In fact, the average number of SaaS applications used per business amounted to 80 in 2021. Depending on the organization’s size, the number of SaaS applications can increase drastically. For instance, a company with 100-499 employees uses an average of 47 SaaS applications while a company with 50-99 employees uses an average of 24 SaaS applications.
By all means, SaaS usage is really popular among businesses because SaaS applications allow businesses to store data or host applications while diminishing the need for on-premise infrastructure. These applications offer pay-as-you-go systems to businesses. Additionally, using several SaaS applications for different organizational needs is a wise plan because these applications allow businesses to reduce operational costs while enabling scalable, versatile services.
Although there are many perks of using SaaS applications, these apps can increase the risks of possible cyber attacks. In recent years, the number of data breaches that stem from SaaS applications increased exponentially. Poor SaaS security is an open invitation to cyber attacks, and both SaaS providers and clients are responsible for data protection, and security. Here are the five steps to stronger SaaS security.
1- Implement Authentication and Strong Password Protocols
Implementing authentication and strong password protocols is an important step to stronger SaaS security. Weak and recognizable passwords can be compromised easily. Make sure to put strong password protocols with explicit requirements such as upper, and lower cases, numbers, and specific characters. But, strong password protocols aren’t enough for stronger SaaS security. That’s why implementing authentication tools and protocols is needed because when it comes to SaaS security, easy access can be a tremendous vulnerability.
Using authentication tools like multi-factor authentication (2MF), biometrics, and single sign-on (SSO) can improve SaaS security. Multi-factor authentication tools guarantee that only authorized users can access SaaS applications because these tools demand users to enter more credentials prior to access permission. 2MF can authenticate users’ identities via codes that are sent to users’ mobile phones such as SMS text message codes, in-app approvals, or face and biometric authentications.
2- Encrypt Data
Generally, many SaaS providers implement Transport Layer Security (TLS) to safeguard the data in transit between the cloud and client servers. But, nowadays it is vital to encrypt the data in motion and at rest in the servers of SaaS. TLS by its form isn’t able to protect the data at rest, and it isn’t enough for the overall security of sensitive data.
Most providers don’t offer encryption for the data at rest as they consider this clients’ responsibility. That’s why encrypting the data at rest in the SaaS servers is an important step for improving SaaS security. Implementation of watertight encryption makes the data at rest unreadable and nonsensical to unauthorized entities. If you use 256-bit military-grade encryption for your data in SaaS servers, cybercriminals won’t be able to decrypt this data so easily.
SaaS services and applications need constant monitoring of user behaviors, activities, and existing systems to maintain overall security at all times. When businesses use multiple SaaS applications, monitoring can be challenging, still, it should be done if security is your primary concern while using these services. IT teams of businesses can create security policies for every SaaS service and implement security solutions accordingly.
To reduce the heavy monitoring workloads, automation of monitoring procedures is a great option. But, commonly partial automation is a better choice because it gives security teams greater control to conduct regular audits and intervene accordingly. Lastly, it is vital to choose providers that enable usage pattern monitoring and alerts when there is a violation of security protocols.
4- Implement CASB
Implementing Cloud Access Security Broker (CASB) is among the SaaS security best practices as it enables an extra layer of security control over the SaaS services. Most SaaS providers’ products are designed to function with CASB software. Generally, CASB is API or proxy-based, and businesses can use either one of these in accordance with the SaaS setup.
CASB can enforce any security policies and collate various functions when they are needed. These security functions can be behavior monitoring, anti-virus inspection, authentication, encryption, and access control. A good implementation of CASB can help businesses extend security policies to the cloud and enable enhanced SaaS security.
5- Train Your Staff
Overall SaaS security can’t be achieved without adequate staff knowledge, while using multiple SaaS applications, it is essential to build SaaS-related organizational culture. Staff training is more important than most people think because human errors can frequently lead to cyber-attacks. In an era where cyber risks associated with SaaS usage are so high, businesses can’t overlook the importance of staff training.
Businesses can create cyber security courses to teach their employees cyber security basics, common types of cyber attacks, SaaS-related security risks, the importance of VPN usage, evading shared accounts, password safety, and so on. Well-trained staff can help businesses to mitigate the security risks associated with SaaS applications.
Nowadays, all sizes of businesses use several SaaS services and applications for their organizational needs. These services are cost-efficient, scalable, and versatile, but these can increase security risks. Additionally, poor SaaS security is often the main source of data breaches. To avoid unwanted incidents and mitigate security risks, businesses should establish enhanced SaaS security.