SaaS Security: How Should You Be Assessing Your SaaS Stack?

Is your company’s SaaS stack brimming with handy tools and cutting-edge technologies? You’re not alone. The ever-expanding number of SaaS applications on the tech market is helping businesses streamline operations and remain competitive in a saturated digital landscape. 

Placing your trust in an external vendor is not without its risks, however. Most SaaS tools contain a wealth of sensitive internal information, some of which may be related to your customers. As such, your SaaS stack may be vulnerable to exploitation by cybercriminals.

With the average data breach costing around $3.86 million, most businesses simply cannot afford to compromise on security. So, what threats should you be looking out for, and how can you maintain rigid SaaS security measures? We’ve put together a helpful guide below.

There are several different types of security threat to be aware of, including:

1. Data breaches

Data breaches represent one of the most common forms of cyberattack. Typically, breaches occur when sensitive information is seized by malicious third parties via security vulnerabilities. Hackers frequently harness data to bribe unsuspecting companies or use it for personal gain, often causing significant financial and reputational damage. 

2. Phishing

Phishing involves obtaining sensitive information via fraudulent email communications. Typically, phishers will send emails pretending to be from legitimate companies. They may ask recipients to hand over their bank details or send links or attachments containing malware. Large companies with lots of employees are particularly vulnerable to phishing attacks.

3. Internal threats

Sometimes, security breaches take place within companies themselves via current employees, former employees, board members, freelancers, or anyone who has been given access to confidential data via a SaaS platform. 

4. Identity Theft

Identity theft involves harnessing personal data to gain access to private user accounts and exploit their assets. Often, identity theft occurs when people fail to keep their passwords safe. 

SaaS security best practices

However expansive your SaaS stack, it is vital that you implement strong security measures to protect yourself from cybercriminals. Keeping sensitive data safe is not just an effective way to avoid financial and reputational damage – it represents an ethical responsibility to customers who have put faith in your company. After all, they too could face financial or reputational pain if their personal details are misused.

Here are some of the best ways to keep your SaaS stack as secure as possible:

1. Audit prospective vendors thoroughly

Before investing in an unfamiliar SaaS vendor, ask your IT management team to examine their security credentials. A thorough security assessment should cover questions such as:

  • How customizable are the application’s access options?
  • Does the vendor have a valid SSL certificate?
  • How are passwords stored on the platform?
  • Does the vendor in question have a robust security program?
  • What types of authorization measures are in place for end-users? 
  • Does the SaaS system support single sign-on (SSO) tools?
  • How frequently does the vendor conduct infrastructure penetration tests?
  • Does the vendor have a strong reputation amongst professionals in your sector?
 

One of the best ways to find quick answers to these questions is to send a questionnaire to prospective SaaS companies before settling on a suitable platform. Security teams within SaaS companies are accustomed to receiving such requests, so don’t be afraid to ask as many questions as you need to.

It is also worth verifying whether a prospective vendor regularly completes compliance audits. The SOC 2 (Systems and Organizational Controls) audit is particularly important to look out for. Established by The American Institute of Certified Public Accountants, SOC 2 is considered the standard audit specification for companies in the tech industry. It requires companies to set out strict security procedures to protect private client data and therefore represents a helpful tool for sourcing reliable SaaS companies.

2. Audit current tools 

It is important to assess the security credentials of your current SaaS stack regularly. While most vendors are likely to strengthen their security credentials as time goes by, holes may start to appear in others. If a SaaS vendor doesn’t live up to your security expectations, it may time to shop around for another one. 

It is also important to ask your employees about the quality and usefulness of SaaS platforms at least once a year. If a platform is underused, it may be worth removing it from your stack and reducing the number of potential entry points available to hackers. Ultimately, an audit aims to assess the risk of a SaaS application against its potential for productivity.

3. Train your employees to spot security risks

The best way to avoid phishing scams and other kinds of threat is to educate your team about cybersecurity. While you may believe that phishing emails are easy to spot, your staff members may not be so knowledgeable. What’s more, scammers are getting better at impersonating legitimate companies and preying on the anxieties of web users. 

To maintain a high level of SaaS security, you must run regular team training sessions about the importance of spotting and reporting threats. You should also teach employees to capture and store only necessarily customer data on a SaaS platform. Minimizing how much data you keep will reduce your risk of a serious breach.

4. Strictly control access to SaaS platforms

One of the best ways to avoid insider attacks is to minimize the number of employees or stakeholders allowed to access a given SaaS platform. Most decent vendors allow companies to set strict access controls, meaning employees only have access to the data they need to carry out their roles. Helpful features to look out for include:

  • Single sign-on: Investing in an identity provider to give employees a single username/password combination for use across multiple applications can help to improve security. After all, it can be difficult to keep track of several passwords, and employees may be tempted to write them down on paper.
  • Enrollment workflows: These allow employees to request and approve access to data. 
  • Network location: This means that employees can only access data when connected to their company’s network. If working remotely, they will need to verify their identity or utilize a VPN.
 

Multifactor authentication is also a great way to boost the security of your SaaS stack. The principle behind multifactor authentication is to maximize the number of hoops hackers must jump through before they’re able to access data. Common examples of multifactor authentication include:

  • One-time passwords sent via SMS
  • Audio call-back verification methods
  • One-time passwords delivered via a smartphone or desktop
  • Smartphone push messages
 

5. Encrypt your sensitive data

Tokenization and data encryption represent some of the best security defenses at your disposal. Encryption turns data into impenetrable code that can only be converted back by authorized individuals – great news if you have large amounts of sensitive information to protect.

Be proactive and assess your SaaS stack today!

As you can see, there are plenty of ways to protect your SaaS stack from security threats. If you’re struggling to keep track of your vendors and their security credentials, it may be worth investing in a SaaS management tool. Accessing all relevant information in one place will help you stay on top of privacy certifications, GDPR statements, and more. 

onetool provides full visibility of your SaaS stack by letting you view all your organization’s apps and who has access to them. Automated 1-click user provisioning makes it easy to securely on- and offboard employees so you always stay in full control of software and data access.

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