How to protect your SaaS business

SaaS companies access tons of customer data. If you fail with SaaS security, it will have a direct and lasting impact on your user experience.

SaaS (or Software as a Service) applications generate large amounts of unstructured data that is difficult to manage. Data is said to be the oil of the digital age, driving business growth. But just like oil, the dissemination of data poses a number of problems.

According to According to the British Assessment Bureau, more than 60,000 hacking attempts are made every day in the UK alone – and that number is only growing as teleworking has weakened the traditional office security perimeter, opening up many hotspots access to hackers.

But there is another question that worries IT security teams: how much Cloud SaaS security data is at risk? Indeed, the use of SaaS applications such as Facebook, Zoom or DropBox is out of control as employees work from home, away from the eyes of IT.

According to Rewind, on average, companies use 3-4 times more SaaS applications than their IT department knows, and BetterCloud predicts that by 2022, 90% of companies will rely on them to accomplish their business tasks.

This lack of visibility, combined with the lack of information about which employees have access to applications and their sensitive data, points to gaping holes in companies’ security systems.

The problem of unstructured data

While SaaS applications store large amounts of structured and unstructured data, it is the latter that pose the greatest challenges for businesses, such as selfies, video and audio files, and even email files.

The lack of a proper identity policy that could govern employee access to these SaaS applications and their data is one of the top cybersecurity risks for organizations, with unstructured data being a major factor in the growth of security compromises.

To better understand the risks organizations face with respect to SaaS applications and data, as well as the state of unstructured data and associated security practices, SailPoint recently conducted a survey to study with Dimensional Research which demonstrated the complexity of the task of data security and control.

We find that 92% of companies move their unstructured data to the cloud. However, 76% of companies faced security issues, including unauthorized access, data loss, regulatory fines, and more.

More than 40% of respondents admitted to not knowing where their unstructured data is. Almost all companies surveyed cited managing access to unstructured data as difficult, citing multiple challenges such as being too large, not having a single solution to access multiple storages, and not Have access visibility that shows where the data is and who owns it.

No wonder companies are spending record sums on cybersecurity to protect their digital transformation gains. According to the Canalys report, investing in new technologies is the top priority for security prevention spending for 50% of European companies.

However, despite their best efforts and intentions, the number of successful attacks continues to rise like never before, with Canalys reporting that “more accounts were compromised in just 12 months than in the previous 15 years combined.”

SaaS protection solutions

In the SaaS/FaaS scheme, the protection of the service infrastructure is entrusted to the provider. If you use a service from a major provider, it is guaranteed to have basic mechanisms for system protection, monitoring and response, fault tolerance, backup and recovery.

For example, you can learn more about Google’s cloud services information security architecture at link. But the protection of the content of the service remains the prerogative of the user, whether it concerns mail, files on a file resource or the source code of an application.

Many SaaS and FaaS vendors offer built-in protection mechanisms – for example, Advanced Threat Protection in Microsoft Office 365. They implement the minimum required set of protection features, but, as a rule, are shallow and not customizable enough. Another example is Google App Engine, which offers built-in firewalls (including a DDoS filter) and Google Cloud Security Scanner, an app scanner.

It is possible to use traffic redirection through your own filter node. In particular, the protection of mail flows via an additional filtering hop. For web applications, the use of WAF solutions as a reverse proxy. You can organize all the filtering policies you need on your site, just like traditional methods. But this option is difficult to organize in terms of routing and can lead to the appearance of a bottleneck (BottleNeck) facing the content gateway.

What products on the market help secure customer data when using SaaS/FaaS/PaaS/CaaS cloud services:

  1. In the case of SaaS, this is the Cloud Access Security Brocker (CASB).
  2. The fPaaS or CaaS option can be secured with the Cloud Workload Protection Platform (CWPP) solution.
  3. In the case of serverless or FaaS applications, the user can use static code analysis and API Gateway.

In the case of CASB, integration with cloud products is done through representative state transfer (REST) APIs and does not require redirecting mail traffic or using a web proxy. Either a node is added and integrated as a forward or reverse proxy. The best option is to use a hybrid installation. CASB lets you scan incoming and outgoing mail for malware and enforce security policies. The solution performs the following main functions:

  • Monitoring and auditing. Shadow IT tracking – use of third-party services. Shadow IT refers to IT devices, software, and services that are present in an organization but not managed by IT. They are not on the IT department’s balance sheet, their status and work are not monitored, and the IT department may not know anything about them at all. These include Amazon AWS, GPC, amoCRM, etc.
  • Protection against phishing attacks and phishing URLs. Sometimes additional analysis and detection of Business Email Compromise (BEC) attacks using artificial intelligence (AI) and machine learning.
  • Find and block known malware, including hidden exploits. Sometimes searches for unknown malware through machine learning mechanisms, sandbox file analysis, internal obfuscation detection techniques.
  • Implementing Data Loss Prevention (DLP) features, including file sharing resources.

To sum up

Each of the considered cloud service models has its own technological and investment advantages and occupies its own niche in the market. However, regardless of which model the customer chooses, the service provider should keep in mind the need to complement the service with features to protect against information security threats.

From this perspective, an effective strategy for providing services that minimize the risk of downtime, reputational costs and negative impact on customers’ business is the design of protection systems, the development of information security incident response plans and the involvement of professional teams of interpreters for the implementation.

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