Everything to know about SaaS data security

July 20, 2022  |  Devin Partida

This blog was written by an independent guest blogger.

Software-as-a-service (SaaS) is becoming the dominant way enterprises access digital tools. While this delivery method has many advantages, from scalability to consistent security updates, it can create significant vulnerabilities if developers and users aren’t careful.

Organizations today use more than 100 SaaS apps on average, and that figure keeps climbing. As these tools play an increasingly central role in how businesses operate, IT professionals on both sides must consider SaaS data security more carefully.

SaaS data security impacts both providers and clients

SaaS data security is so crucial because any vulnerabilities can affect multiple parties. If a breach occurs in a SaaS provider’s database, it could expose their commercial clients’ data. The infamous SolarWinds hack, which affected thousands of Orion users, highlights how one SaaS vulnerability can give attackers access to multiple organizations.

When an event like this occurs, attackers could directly affect software users by stealing their data or installing malware on their devices. These steps, in turn, could affect their customers if they use the software to manage consumers’ data. All these ripple effects would come back to the SaaS provider in the form of lost trust and legal repercussions.

Every party connected to SaaS can suffer considerable damage if a breach occurs. Consequently, all parties should take it seriously and the responsibility for improving security falls to both providers and users.

Best practices for SaaS providers

SaaS security begins with the companies that develop and sell the software. One of the most important steps for SaaS providers is to embrace the principle of least privilege. The only people, apps, and systems that should be able to access any data are those that absolutely need it. This will restrict lateral movement and make it easier to trace any potential breaches.

Monitoring user activity is another important step. Logging all activity will reveal abnormalities that may signal an attempted attack, enabling faster responses. Automation is crucial here, as companies with fully deployed security automation identify breaches 55 days earlier and lose $1.49 million less than those without it on average.

Encrypting all data both at rest and in transit will help further mitigate potential breaches. SaaS companies should also partner with reliable security vendors to offer users as much protection as possible.

Similarly, SaaS providers can seek relevant security certifications. Certifications like the AICPA SOC 2 Type 2 offer assurance to customers that the company has met high standards for data security. This will both provide guidelines for reliable cybersecurity and attract more business.

Best practices for SaaS users

SaaS users can also take data security into their own hands. Since misconfiguration is the most common cloud vulnerability, the most important step is to address configuration gaps. IT teams must approach configuration carefully and frequently review SaaS permissions and processes to find and fix errors.

Businesses should also look for trusted SaaS vendors. Just as SaaS providers should pursue security certifications, users should prefer to use software from companies that have these certifications. Reviewing providers’ data breach history and security policies can also help find the most secure choice.

Credential management is another key area to address. Weak or stolen passwords account for 81% of hacking-related breaches, so employees must use strong passwords and enable multi-factor authentication (MFA). Following the principle of least privilege will further reduce risks related to breached credentials.

SaaS users and providers alike should use reliable, up-to-date anti-malware software and train all employees in cybersecurity best practices. Both should also stay informed about emerging threats to adapt to rising cybercrime trends as necessary.

Data security is crucial for SaaS

SaaS is helpful, but it can also increase data vulnerabilities if companies don’t approach it with care. As these tools become more popular, both vendors and customers must understand their unique security needs and follow these best practices. If all sides can embrace these necessary steps, SaaS can reach its full potential without endangering sensitive data.

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