7th January, 2021
Undoubtedly, Software as a service (SaaS) has changed how the global workforce operates - from working with team members and coordinating with vendors to interacting with customers. SaaS has been pandemic-proofing companies even before the pandemic. Now, virtually every business function uses low-code tools and apps to collaborate, engage, and deliver results.
One could argue (and probably win) there’s so much software firepower in organizations today that maximizing their ROI may seem like an impossible task. That leads us to a current reality that may turn grim if left unattended - application security.
Managing the SaaS application stack is tremendously different than how you do on-prem solutions. It is like managing the security infrastructure of a gated condominium. All the residents are promised ample measures against existing and potential threats. Even a single lapse in one corner of the community could cause a stir that leads to significant problems.
But when you first start thinking about SaaS security, it begins on a reasonably secure note. From the get-go, your IT teams can easily set user identities and roles to ensure authorized usage. The best part is they can avoid spending time configuring, maintaining, or upgrading the application’s cybersecurity because it is the SaaS vendor’s job. However, it also means that you may lose control over how your data is secured.
While many SaaS providers showcase inbuilt protocols to ensure complete, anywhere, anytime security, they don’t necessarily educate you about the unpredictability of policy updates, newer risks, and downtimes.
In the recent past, the lack of tactical focus on application security has been the worst-kept secret in the world of SaaS.
By mid-2019, a top security research firm study showed that 4.1 billion records were left exposed, with more than 3,800 publicly disclosed breaches. Another recent study by Ping Identity, a leader in Identity Defined Security, indicated that 71% of businesses had orphaned SaaS subscriptions, which is only the tip of the iceberg as far SaaS security inefficiencies are concerned.
Loss of control over data access, usage, privacy, and governance
Lack of transparency over security protocols due to weak SLAs
The difficulty of managing regulatory compliance due to widespread data locations
Risk of unfederated identity theft
Phishing, account takeovers, ransomware, and zero-day malware
Vendor lock-in due to lack of interoperability
User negligence, credential-sharing, and weak passwords
One of the biggest security threats is the overall reactive approach to application security management. And it can no longer remain that way, considering the lessons learned from the state of the world today. The key is to enable long-term software adoption while continuously addressing key security risks. Leaving them unaddressed doesn’t just create immediate legal and business issues - it also throws an ugly coat of paint on the bigger picture. You need to make the switch to adopt a proactive security approach so that your ecosystem becomes a safe zone for data-rich applications.
What are compliance standards inbuilt into the software’s technology?
Is the data in the software encrypted while in transit and when stored in the cloud?
Who can view or access the data in the cloud, besides authorized users?
Is there a security awareness program for users?
Will there be other third parties involved in solution or service delivery?
Will disaster recovery tests be performed routinely?
That being said, asking these questions is just half the battle.
For instance, biometric authentication has 80% of survey respondents worldwide talking about how effective it can be for securing identity data. In stark comparison, the study also shows that their adoption rate hovers around the 22% mark.
It’s why this year – and in the near future, IT teams are the facility managers of your SaaS gated condominium. They must continuously monitor all the internal protocols and proactively respond to real-time and emerging security threats. And no matter how much you read the fine print of your software SLAs, there will always be trust discrepancies due to lack of transparency.
Your IT teams, on the other hand, are in-house resources to help stay on top of SaaS security concerns. Even if you have a mix of on-premises and cloud-based hosting, they can tighten entry and exit points to avoid leaked data, stop unnecessary access, and eliminate phishing.
Most importantly, to do any of these – you require a 360-degree view of data threats across your application stack. It helps you orchestrate a cross-application security strategy that can go a long way to protect the overall software ecosystem from fast-evolving security threats.