Who doesn’t dream of maintenance-free computing? The rise of Software as a Service (SaaS), has, for the most part, made that dream a reality. No more worries about a stretched-thin IT department constantly installing new software and patches. But there are still a number of SaaS security vulnerabilities to watch out for.
Once utilized almost exclusively by major commercial entities, SaaS applications have now become ubiquitous even to casual computer users, with companies such as Adobe and Microsoft providing their most popular software packaged as cloud applications at a monthly subscription fee. It’s estimated that the average business uses 80 SaaS apps representing about 70% of the apps businesses use.
The upside, for small and medium businesses, is the simplicity of delivery, seamless updates and security patches, compatibility, and usability, including access from any device with a web browser. It can also be very affordable, with pay-as-you-go availability for only the services they need for their business.
SaaS Cloud Security
With the SaaS transformation comes a new set of risks. SaaS cloud security requirements have necessarily become more important. Just as significant, there is more than one potential point of vulnerability to consider: that of the SaaS provider, and that of the customer. Who is ultimately responsible for security?
The answer is both. The customer is responsible for keeping their own network and workstations secure against hackers, viruses, and other threats.
Likewise, the provider has a responsibility to ensure their data and application servers are adequately protected from any conceivable threat, including malicious actors, unauthorized use, natural disasters, and more. How does the customer know that their data is secure with the SaaS vendor’s public cloud? There is a level of trust involved, where the provider demonstrates that their cloud SaaS security is up to the task of safeguarding customer data, through security measures that meet regulatory compliance.
This trust is gained through the provider’s adherence to various security standards in place when it comes to transferring and storing data. Therein lies the problem. Several problems, in fact. Here are the top 8 security vulnerabilities to watch out for in 2022.
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1. Dated practices and solutions
Some security and regulatory standards are out of date. So even if a SaaS provider is diligently ensuring that their servers and software are maintained with the latest security certifications (and not all of them do), they should view those regulations as a minimum requirement. The top providers will take it upon themselves to maintain awareness of the latest threats and implement the latest industry responses.
2. Application security issues
Data can be a target, whether in storage or as data in transit. Gaps in session management, authentication, and configuration can be exploited and lead to a data breach. It’s important to have regular assessments to ensure applications are protected, and to use effective data encryption.
3. Over-reliance on security tests
While testing is a step in the right direction, it isn’t the whole story. For instance, ALL endpoints must be tested, not just a representative few. Additionally, updates may be late or not implemented across the board, resulting in misconfigurations that might not show up in typical penetration tests.
4. Network security issues
Weak or misconfigured firewalls can lead to unauthorized access through DNS attacks, VoIP-related phishing, and more. Penetration testing can identify vulnerabilities.
5. Hardware attacks
Hardware theft, firmware compromises, malware injections, and more can help bad actors gain access to an organization’s SaaS system. Ensuring hardware security is just as important as that for software security.
6. Lack of access control
What customers have access to applications and data, and to which areas? How is user access granted, and how is authorization enforced? Are passwords strong enough, and changed regularly? Does the organization employ multifactor authentication, a proven method to enhance login security?
7. Inability to prevent insider misuse or theft of data
Not all threats come from outside. Through accident or malicious intent, employees or contractors can destroy or steal customer data. Regular staff training can keep employees aware of the latest security practices. Rigorous screening and activity logs can minimize the risk of deliberate misuse.
8. Applications in cloud services deployed by shadow IT
Some organization’s departments may cut corners in order to save time by deploying services without using the main IT department. This can inadvertently expose applications and data to security threats. All deployments must come under the supervision of the company’s IT security team.
Credit: Kevin Ku
SaaS Management for SaaS Security
These are only some of the top issues; other types of security vulnerabilities can be found, if one looks for them. When focussing on effective SaaS management, the above factors are essential considerations when trying to mitigate security risks. Which vulnerabilities should be prioritized depends on the nature of the organization and its clients, the services offered, and other factors.
Ensuring cloud application security, data protection, and regulatory compliance, all while maintaining a disaster recovery and business continuity plan is not easy. It takes a thorough commitment to established up-to-date best practices.
When reading the above eight vulnerability points, you might have realized a common theme has emerged: visibility into the entire system, or lack thereof. An IT department must be aware of everything connected to the organization’s cloud. The closer you can get to achieving and maintaining that goal, the less security worries you’ll have.
Many businesses can’t afford an IT department to manage their SaaS products. Outsource Solutions Group provides managed IT solutions for small and medium businesses. With helpdesk services, 24/7 security monitoring, and IT technology consulting, OSG is a holistic solution to all your tech needs. Contact us today for a free quote.