SaaS Security Checklist & Best Practices For CISOs – [2023]

Updated on

SaaS Security Best Practices

SaaS application security is one of the growing concerns amongst startups and tech businesses. Enterprises today rely on hundreds of software-as-a-service (SaaS) applications to make their workloads, data, and processes more efficient and productive.

Lower costs, ease of use, scalability and integration capabilities are some of the benefits compared to local solutions. Harvard Business School has a great article on Introducing technological change into an organization. But as with all cyber offerings, SaaS applications are susceptible to attack and thus require the adoption of a SaaS Security Posture Management (SSPM) solution.

Security posture, or the status of a company’s cybersecurity operations, provides visibility into security assets and the preparedness of the security team to identify and defend against threats. The SaaS security posture, then, concerns a series of tools that enable the tracking and protection of digital assets.

The main pain points of SaaS security system from:

  • Lack of compliance standards and modern user data security standards: Concerns related to providers maintaining out-dated standards increasing risks associated with the safety of data.
  • Lack of governance in the lifecycle of SaaS applications: from purchase to deployment, operation and maintenance
  • Lack of visibility into all settings in the SaaS application estate
  • Lack of skills in cloud security, which is evolving, accelerating and complex.
  • Laborious and overwhelming workload to keep track of hundreds to thousands (to tens of thousands) of settings and permissions.

In 2022, SaaS security threats will cost you 4.35 million U.S. dollars. The Snyk state of cloud report for 2022 shows us that 80% of organizations experienced a serious cloud security incident during the last year.

There was research conducted by researchers from the Pacific Asia Conference on Information Systems (PASIC) in relation to SaaS adoption. The objective was to investigate the role of organizational factors on SaaS adoption within 15 companies. The researchers conducted interviews with IT directors, IT managers IT supervisors, owners and managers of businesses to learn their views on SaaS. User data must be secured both in the cloud and on-premises to ensure privacy and compliance.

Governance capability across the SaaS suite is as nuanced as it is complicated. Although the native security controls of SaaS applications are often strong, it is the responsibility of the organization to ensure that all configurations are well established, from global settings to each user role and privilege. 

It only takes one SaaS admin unknowingly changing a setting or sharing the wrong report for sensitive company data to be exposed. The security team needs to know every application, user, and configuration and make sure they all comply with company and industry policies.

An SaaS is a kind of business model that provides cloud based applications, software modules and other services from the Internet. When you are developing SaaS applications, it is essential that the whole process is followed by an expert team. The main aim of SaaS security is to protect your data against external attacks as well as internal threats.

ascii-saas-security

What is a SaaS Security Checklist?

SaaS security checklist is a step-by-step guide to helping you build user trust and improve the security of your SaaS application at a low cost. This review of best practices in SAAS security comes from our expert team who has worked on many SaaS projects. 

A SaaS security checklist items provides security guidelines that outline best practices and standards for SaaS and cloud-based apps. Chief Technology Officers (CTOs) and CSOs, Chief Security Officers (CSOs) as well as other executives who make decisions utilize these checklists to evaluate the existing SaaS tools used by the company and assess new SaaS solutions that are being evaluated.

Businesses that offer SaaS in the form of a B2B platform may also apply a SaaS security checklist to ensure that the software they offer to other companies meets the security standards required by their customers.

Certain SaaS security checks are made to be general and flexible, allowing organizations to adapt the resources to their specific requirements. Other checklists are specific to industries or use cases.

Checklist items to make sure the PCI DSS conformity won’t necessarily aid an organization in evaluating cloud video software for conferencing. While both are crucial for ensuring solid security standards for applications The checklists are distinct from one another.

Oracle SaaS Security Checklist For Business Managers

The list is more of an overall tool that will force business managers to evaluate their company’s existing SaaS infrastructure. Here’s a brief summary of the questions on the checklist:

  • Do you use cloud-based applications and services from a variety of service providers?
  • Do you know the risks involved in integrating points from all providers?
  • Do you have the ability to secure access your data across different cloud environments?
  • How often do you meet the IT department to talk about SaaS security?
  • Does your cloud provider share customer data into shared databases?
  • Are your employees properly trained to be proficient in IT security?
  • Are your cloud service providers constantly offer security tools that are up-to-date to protect against new security threats?
  • Are your cloud service providers able to provide automatic SaaS Security monitoring, alerts and security?
  • Does your business manage and operate the data centers of its own?
  • Are you ready to meet the requirements of policy and regulatory compliance?
  • What is the frequency you review your SaaS security standards?
  • Have you got a process to assess risk for every cloud service provider?
  • What is the frequency at which your business perform security audits?

The checklist contains around 40 questions. Certain are straightforward yes or no questions and others are more flexible.

This checklist will make business leaders think of their SaaS security requirements for both existing and new cloud applications.

SaaS Security Issues

Most critical security issues for SaaS applications that security teams should be aware of.

  • Security configuration error. Security misconfiguration. SaaS Security Survey Report declares that this is the most frequently encountered SaaS application security problem. The attack results from an improper configuration of the computing assets. To protect SaaS secure application, it’s important to set up all tools and to upgrade them on time.
  • Insufficient investment of SaaS Security tools as well as personnel. In the last year 81% of companies have increased their investments in crucial business SaaS apps. Non-use for SSPM (SaaS Security Posture Management) tools.
  • Use of SSPM instruments (Cynet, Adaptive Shield) helps to speed up the time to identify and correct SaaS issues with configurations.
  • The cross-site scripting (XSS). It’s one of the most frequent data weaknesses, which affects nearly half of the applications.
  • Identity theft. Online payments, data exchange and various other functions which are commonly utilized in SaaS products could pose risks of identity theft
  • Lack of logging and monitoring. Prevention and risk assessment is essential.

 

SaaS Security Best Practices For CISOs

The best practices checklist above contains a set of best practices that can be used to help protect your SaaS business. When you implement these, you will find that your SaaS security is much better protected.

The following are some additional security best practices for SaaS businesses:

Visibility and information

Perform comprehensive security checks to gain a clear view of your SaaS environment, all integrations, and all areas of risk.

SSPM solution integrations

First and foremost for an SSPM solution, is the ability of the SSPM to integrate with all of your SaaS applications. Each SaaS has its own framework and configurations, if there is access to users and company systems, it must be supervised by the organization. Any application can pose a risk, even non-business critical applications. Keep in mind that often the smallest applications can serve as a gateway for an attack.

  • Look for an SSPM system with a minimum of 30 integrations that are adaptable and capable of running checks on each type of data to protect against misconfigurations.
  • What’s more, a solution should be able to support as many applications as possible that are within the IT SaaS stack, in a seamless “out of the box” way.

Effective SSPM solutions address these issues and provide complete visibility into the company’s SaaS security posture, checking for compliance with industry standards and company policy. Some solutions even offer the possibility to correct them from the solution itself. 

As a result, an SSPM tool can significantly improve the efficiency of the security team and protect company data by automating the correction of misconfigurations in the increasingly complex SaaS state.

As you might expect, not all SSPM solutions are created equal. Monitoring, alerting, and remediation should be at the core of your SSPM solution. They ensure that any vulnerability is closed quickly before it is exploited by cyberattacks.  

Comprehensive and in-depth security checks

The other vital component to an effective SSPM is the extent and depth of security controls. Each domain has its own facets that the security team must track and monitor.

  • Identity and access management
  • Malware Protection
  • Data leak protection
  • Security Audit
  • Access control for external users
  • privacy control
  • Compliance Policies, Security Frameworks, and Benchmarks

Continuous monitoring and correction

Combating threats with continuous monitoring and rapid remediation of any misconfigurations is crucial.

Remediating problems in business environments is a complicated and delicate task. The SSPM solution should provide deep context about each and every configuration and allow you to easily monitor and set alerts. In this way, vulnerabilities are quickly closed before they are exploited by cyberattacks.

SSPM vendors like Adaptive Shield provide you with these tools, which allow your security team to communicate effectively, close vulnerabilities, and protect your system.

Multiple elements such as cloud, web application security, API security and network security practices are at play when considering security-minded SaaS vendors. It is strongly recommended to adopt the security settings as recommended by public cloud vendors while deploying your SaaS application on public clouds.

  • 24/7 continuous monitoring
  • Activity tracker
  • Alerts
  • Banknotes
  • Remediation
  • Posture in time

System functionality

Integrate a solid and fluid SSPM system, without additional noise.

Your SSPM solution should be easy to deploy and allow your security team to easily add and monitor new SaaS applications. The best security solutions should easily integrate with your existing cybersecurity infrastructure and applications to create a comprehensive defense against cyberthreats.

  • self-service attendants
  • robust APIs
  • few false positives
  • not intrusive
  • staggered use

Implement Proactive New SaaS Discovery

The best way to prevent account hijacking is to make sure that you know who has access to your SaaS accounts and where they log in from. 

This can be done by using a third-party service like LogMeIn.com or TeamViewer (both of which have free versions).

Automate SaaS Business Justification

Another way to prevent account hijacking is to automate the creation of new business justification documents for all new users who sign up for your service, especially if it’s a new account or an existing user who has changed their password. 

This will ensure that no one can access the account without authorization (i.e., a valid password).

Enforce Identity and Access Management (IAM)

Enforcing IAM across your organization is essential for securing your SaaS environment. The best way to do this is through an automated process that allows you to identify whether a user has been granted access to specific resources within your SaaS environment. 

You should also have an audit trail system in place so that when users attempt to access resources they don’t have access to or inappropriately use those resources, it’s possible for them to be identified and disciplined accordingly.

Require Multi-Factor Authentication

Multi-factor authentication (MFA) is a security measure that requires users to provide more than one piece of evidence (or “factor”) when authenticating themselves to access a system or service. In the context of SaaS security, implementing MFA can help to protect against unauthorized access to the SaaS application and the data it processes and stores.

Using multiple authentication factors: To provide the strongest possible security, it is best to use multiple authentication factors, such as something the user knows (e.g. a password), something the user has (e.g. a mobile device), and something the user is (e.g. a biometric identifier such as a fingerprint).

Overall, implementing MFA is an important best practice for ensuring the security of a SaaS application and the data it processes and stores. By requiring users to provide multiple authentication factors, it can help to protect against unauthorized access and other security threats.

Prioritize Single Sign-On Integration

Single sign-on (SSO) is a security measure that allows users to access multiple applications or services with a single set of authentication credentials. In the context of SaaS security, implementing SSO can help to improve security by reducing the number of passwords that users need to remember, and by providing a central location for managing and securing access to SaaS applications.

To ensure the security of the SSO process, it is important to use a trusted SSO provider that has a proven track record of securing access to applications and services.

implementing SSO is an important best practice for improving the security of SaaS applications and the data they process and store. 

By providing a centralized and secure method for accessing multiple applications and services, SSO can help to reduce the risk of unauthorized access and other security threats.

Monitor Sharing of Accounts

One of the key security risks associated with SaaS applications is the sharing of accounts among users. This can happen when multiple users use the same set of credentials to access the SaaS application, which can make it difficult to track and monitor access and can also increase the risk of unauthorized access or misuse.

To prevent users from sharing their credentials, it is important to enforce the use of unique credentials for each user. This means that each user should have their own username and password, rather than sharing a single set of credentials.

Monitor sharing of accounts is an important best practice for improving the security of SaaS applications and the data they process and store. By implementing strong authentication and enforcing unique credentials, it can help to reduce the risk of unauthorized access and other security threats.

Remove Dormant (Zombie) Accounts

Dormant or “Zombie” accounts are accounts that are no longer in use, but are still active and can potentially be accessed by unauthorized users. In the context of SaaS applications, dormant accounts can represent a security risk because they may not be properly managed or monitored, and they can also be a source of unnecessary costs for the organization.

Implementing policies and procedures for removing dormant accounts: To ensure that dormant accounts are properly managed and removed, it is important to have clear policies and procedures in place for identifying and removing dormant accounts. 

These policies and procedures should be regularly reviewed and updated to ensure that they are effective and align with the changing needs of the organization.

Removing dormant accounts is an important best practice for improving the security of SaaS applications and the data they process and store. Identifying and removing dormant accounts, can help to reduce the risk of unauthorized access and other security threats, and can also help to reduce costs for the organization.

Enforce Password Policies

Enforcing password policies is an important best practice for improving the security of SaaS applications and the data they process and store. By requiring users to create and use strong, unique passwords, organizations can help to protect against unauthorized access and other security threats.

To help users understand and comply with password policies, it is important to provide guidance and support, such as tips for creating strong passwords and information about the importance of regular password changes.

Enforcing password policies is an important best practice for improving the security of SaaS applications and the data they process and store. By requiring the use of strong, unique passwords, organizations can help to protect against unauthorized access and other security threats.

SaaS Security Checklist FAQs

What is SaaS Security?

Software as a Service (SaaS) refers to a software delivery model where a provider hosts an application and makes it available to customers over the internet. In terms of security, SaaS providers are responsible for securing the infrastructure and the data center where the application is hosted, as well as the application itself. 

This means that they are responsible for implementing security measures such as firewalls, encryption, and regular security updates to protect the application and the data of their customers.

What security concerns do you have with SaaS providers?

There are a number of security concerns that can arise with SaaS providers. Some of the key security concerns include:

  1. Inadequate security measures: If a SaaS provider does not implement adequate security measures, it could leave the application and the data of its customers vulnerable to attack. This could include issues such as inadequate network security, outdated software, or a lack of access controls.
  2. Lack of transparency: If a SaaS provider is not transparent about its security measures, it can be difficult for customers to know whether their data is being adequately protected. This can make it difficult for customers to decide whether to use the SaaS provider.
  3. Single point of failure: Because the SaaS application is hosted by the provider, it is dependent on the provider’s infrastructure and data center. If there is a problem with the provider’s infrastructure or data center, it could impact the availability of the SaaS application.
  4. Data breaches: If a SaaS provider experiences a data breach, it could compromise its customers’ data. This could have serious consequences for the customers, including loss of data and damage to their reputation.
  5. Loss of control: Because the SaaS application is hosted by the provider, customers may feel like they have less control over their data and how it is used. This can be a particular concern for businesses that are required to comply with strict data protection regulations.

What is SaaS security management?

SaaS security management is the process of ensuring the security and integrity of software-as-a-service (SaaS) applications and systems. This involves implementing and maintaining appropriate security measures to protect against threats such as hacking, data breaches, and unauthorized access to sensitive information. SaaS security management typically includes activities such as regular security assessments, the implementation of security policies and procedures, and the use of encryption and other security technologies to protect data. The goal of SaaS security management is to ensure that SaaS applications and systems are secure and compliant with industry standards and regulations.

What Are The Biggest SaaS Security Challenges Today?

There are a number of security challenges that organizations face when using SaaS applications. Some of the biggest Saas security challenges include:

  • Inadequate security measures: Many SaaS providers do not implement adequate security measures, which can leave the application and the data of its customers vulnerable to attack. This can include issues such as inadequate network security, outdated software, or a lack of access controls.
  • Lack of control: Because the SaaS application is hosted by the provider, customers may feel like they have less control over their data and how it is used. This can be a particular concern for businesses that are required to comply with strict data protection regulations.
  • Data breaches: If a SaaS provider experiences a data breach, it could compromise its customers’ data. This could have serious consequences for the customers, including loss of data and damage to their reputation.
  • Single point of failure: Because the SaaS application is hosted by the provider, it is dependent on the provider’s infrastructure and data center. If there is a problem with the provider’s infrastructure or data center, it could impact the availability of the SaaS application.
  • Compliance with regulations: Many businesses are required to comply with strict data protection regulations, such as the General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) in the European Union. This can be a challenge for organizations using SaaS applications, as they may not have full control over how their data is processed and stored.

Who is responsible for security in SaaS?

The obligation in SaaS is a shared responsibility. It’s shared by SaaS providers, the SaaS supplier, business as well as all users. Yes, data may be secure within the cloud. But anyone who has access the data can influence whether it’s safe.

In a SaaS model, the provider is responsible for securing the infrastructure and the data center where the application is hosted, as well as the application itself. This means that the provider is responsible for implementing security measures such as firewalls, encryption, and regular security updates to protect the application and the data of their customers.

However, it is important to note that the responsibility for security in SaaS is not limited to the provider. Customers also have a responsibility to ensure the security of their own data and the data of their users. They should work closely with the provider to implement appropriate security measures.

This can include implementing policies and procedures for managing access to the SaaS application and providing training and support to users to help them understand and comply with security best practices.

What is the industry standard for SaaS software security?

The most demanded security standards for software include GDPR, PCI DSS, HIPAA/HITECH, NIST 800-171, CIS, SOX, and ISO/IEC 27001.

Final Thoughts – Security Checklist to protect SaaS Applications

The right SaaS solution PREVENTS your next attack.

SaaS is similar to brushing your teeth: it is a fundamental requirement necessary to create a preventative state of protection. The right SaaS, like Adaptive Shield, provides organizations with continuous, automated surveillance of all SaaS applications, along with an integrated knowledge base to ensure maximum SaaS security hygiene.

With Adaptive Shield, security teams will deploy best practices for SaaS security while integrating with all types of SaaS applications, including: 

  • video conferencing platforms, 
  • customer support tools, 
  • resource management systems, 
  • dashboards, 
  • workspaces, 
  • content, 
  • file-sharing applications, 
  • messaging applications, 
  • and marketing platforms, among others.

The Adaptive Shield framework is easy to use, intuitive to master and takes five minutes to deploy. There are so many ways you can secure your WordPress website. 

It’s important to regularly review and update your website’s security measures to stay ahead of potential threats. WP Hacked Help has many years of WordPress experience in website security and malware cleanup techniques.