SaaS Security Guide

SaaS Security: A Complete Guide on Issues & Best Practices

Posted by Ana Hoffman

5 Jan 23 9 Min read

SaaS security is one of the most important aspects of running a business online. As software becomes more and more integral to the way we work and live, it's no wonder that security has become a top priority for many businesses.

Therefore, SaaS security entails that there be policies and measures in place to ensure that customers' data logged into the application is private, secure, and free from attack by hackers. When a customer feels that SaaS security is in place, it makes them feel confident in using that software because they know every information shared there is private and secured.

This article is a comprehensive guide on issues and best practices when it comes to security in SaaS applications. We will also discuss the different types of attacks that can occur, and discuss the steps that you should take to protect your SaaS platform. Are you ready to tackle security head-on? Let's get started!

What is SaaS Security?

SaaS security is the process of protecting your SaaS application from unauthorized access, use, and disclosure. SaaS security solutions typically involve several measures to protect your data, applications, users, and systems. It also minimises the risk of shadow IT and misuse of SaaS applications. In the absence of SaaS security, there could be a data breach resulting in disrupting IT operations. Security for SaaS applications requires granular access control.

Why is SaaS Security needed?

Using SaaS carries its own set of security risks as SaaS applications are hosted remotely by the provider, they are at risk of being hacked and stolen. Additionally, if data is not properly encrypted while it's stored online, hackers may be able to access it indirectly via third-party services that store user data.

So, why is security so important when using SaaS?

Privacy and Regulation Compliance:

In SaaS applications when you trust a third party and your data is transit on the web, you may not have control on it. In this case, security concerns are raised about application’s usage, safety. So, an organization should make sure about SaaS security that fulfills requirements as well compatible with regulations.

Compromise in Security:

Most SaaS applications work remotely, it carries security risks. If an attacker has access to the server on which SaaS application is running then, there is a chance of security compromise. It can put customers’ security at risk.

Also, Read: How to build a SaaS product from scratch

Possible Issues with SaaS

1. Runs Virtually

SaaS is good because it runs virtually through virtualization technologies that have been put in place. This feature makes it easy for users to access software from anywhere they are and across the globe. While this is good, it has opened the door for cybercriminals to easily access data when it is compromised.

However, it still bears a risk of your SaaS product being compromised. For example, If a hacker hacks a particular server, they can gain access to all the multiple servers there.

2. Unknown Details

Certain aspects of the SaaS software practices and back-end procedures are kept from public knowledge, particularly the users. However, these details should be known because a product user has no idea about the security measures in place, how the software functions for a good user experience, etc. In such an instance, this obscurity is an issue.

3. Cloud Storage of Data

SaaS runs virtually, and data is usually stored in the cloud, which can pose a problem since the software owner uses a third party to protect the data of their clients or consumers. Therefore, the software developers may not know what will happen, if the information of their users is accessed through the third-party cloud storage system they are using.

4. Lack of Data Control

Data stored and protected by a third-party storage system makes it difficult for clients to control how their data is handled or controlled. It translates to users depending on third parties for how their data is used, managed, and protected. Therefore, they can do nothing if anything happens that makes their data compromised. This is why before signing up on an application; ensure they are secured using an SSL certificate because it minimizes the risk of hacking.

5. Easy Accessibility

Accessing SaaS from anywhere has been beneficial to every user, and it has made them gravitate toward it. However, this ease has posed a major problem because most users can access it with unsecured connections and public Wi-Fi and neglect to use a virtual private network. This poses a problem that does not seem to stop.

Also, Read: How Can Enterprises Protect Their Data In A Cloud Environment?

Best Practices for SaaS Application Security

The issues with SaaS do not mean that it is not beneficial or cannot be protected. With some good practices and by following the SaaS security checklist in place, users can have the best use of it:

1. Encryption of data

Having an SSL certificate is a good way of encrypting data, making it impossible for hackers to decrypt the information in cases where they can access it. It is possible to encrypt all shared data between those using your SaaS and the server communicating the information.

Clients knowing that their data is protected and encrypted, especially when it concerns their data like bank details or information, will feel more confident using the SaaS. In addition, they should be allowed to encrypt their information while inputting it.

In addition, cookies should be well protected, including data that is saved internally. To prevent a security breach, this should be done consistently. When using SSL certificates, ensure they are set up correctly to work maximally.

2. Check for Vulnerabilities

Routine checks should be carried out to ensure that all security measures have been put in place to ensure your users have a great experience. These checks are done both manually and automatically. Most providers bring up hypothetical situations and provide solutions while ticking off all checks.

3. Users deploying Security Measures

Both developers and users of a SaaS mean that both parties must work for the best experience and use security measures. Users should not allow just anyone to access their information by not giving anyone access to their passwords and other valuable details. Permissions should not be granted to anyone so that hackers will not find that as a leeway.

Additionally, clients using a virtual private network that protects data and access to a particular SaaS can do wonders in ensuring that all the standpoints and infrastructure of the SaaS are well protected for everyone. The machines used to run this SaaS virtually have to be regularly updated to ensure that all possible threats are removed to secure it.

Encouraging users to use multiple types of authentication is also helpful in warding off any security risk that may occur through the users' end. When not, just a strong password is required. Still, a one-time password (OTP) in cases where they are logging in from another device, confirmation email, or a question that the user previously set makes it difficult, if not impossible, for a third party to access and thereby enhance security.

4. Limit Admin Access

If a person or worker does not need access to a SaaS, it should not be given to them. If someone previously used it but did not anymore, their account should be deleted. Blocking any medium that a cybercriminal may use to access a SaaS and cause a security breach should be done because most hackers have been able to access a SaaS through abandoned accesses that are not well protected.

5. Avoid Data Loss

There should be easy detection of data loss and actions to prevent it that will further prevent data loss. It is usually done through Data Loss Prevention (DLP).

With this system, the possibility of any leak occurring is removed because incoming data is scanned and monitored. Then, if any suspicious activity is noticed, the admin of the SaaS is notified to check it out and prevent a breach. There are APIs on SaaS that help to enforce DLP requirements software. They are readily available for use.

6. Security during deployment

When considering deployment, you should know that you could do it through a cloud or a SaaS service provider. Assuming you prefer to use a cloud service and deploy it yourself, evaluating the provider and ensuring that security measures have been put in place is essential.

Just because you are using any cloud system that is reportedly the best in the industry does not mean you should not carry out your research to ensure that they have complied with every guideline set by the government to ensure that data from a SaaS is well protected and secured.

Also, Read: AWS vs Azure vs Google Cloud - Choose for your Enterprise

Final Thoughts

SaaS is good, primarily when some practices are implemented to ensure it is well protected. If you are a provider of this service, it is essential that you should have knowledge of the latest trends or issues that may come up and how to deal with them. Some providers share newsletters on security measures to adopt here that you can sign up for. Also, do not forget to use an SSL certificate to protect and encrypt your data or information and that of your clients.

Would you like to learn more about building secure mobile and web applications? We can help! Get in touch to build great products that meets your requirements.


Stay curious, Questions?

What are SaaS Security Best Practices?

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There are few well-known practices for SaaS security like

  • Always choose reputed SaaS service provider
  • Add encryption to data
  • Apply two-factor authentication and Identity Access Management
  • Add single sign-in option
  • Evaluate security controls
  • Do Vulnerability Assessment

What are risks associated with SaaS Security?

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Organizations face many SaaS security risks or concerns like ransomware attack, software vulnerabilities, phishing attack, and Blockchain attack.

What is Shadow IT in SaaS Security?

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Shadow IT in simple terms means an employee without approval does practice relating to software, hardware, and cloud service. Here, apps that are not approved by organizations but in-house experts have granted access control to confidential information in an organization.