Table of Contents [TOC]
Table of Contents [TOC]
With 2022 drawing to a close and many closing their plans and budgets for 2023, the time has come to do a brief wrap-up of the SaaS Security challenges on the horizon. Meanwhile, you must also be aware of cyber security trends and predictions for 2023.
When it comes to software as a service security risks, there are many other aspects to consider than just data access risk. This includes identity theft and control over your information. Even during the coronavirus pandemic, these had an effect on SaaS security.
The most common concern of SaaS users is the saas security issues in cloud computing. What happens if a hacker gets access to your clients’ information or even worse, your own? While it’s true that there are security risks and concerns with any cloud-based SAAS solution, this article will take a look at some of the biggest SAAS security risks and threats that may impact Saas Users in 2023 while offering tips for mitigating them.
SaaS solutions are the trending services among most web-based companies. They’re easy to maintain and set up, they don’t require a lot of maintenance to keep them running as most things are handled by the vendor, and they make everyday tasks easier for most employees.
90% of surveyed organizations now use cloud computing, such as software-as-a-service (SaaS) services.
Gartner predicts 99% of cloud security failures will be the customer’s fault by 2025.
So it looks like software as a service will make up the majority of software used by online businesses.
But can SaaS tools be risk-free? Hardly, to be honest. Like any other digital tool that has yet to be perfected, SaaS poses new risks for web-based businesses and their private networks. After all, using various SaaS tools means that you are sharing and exposing your resources to a third party. Therefore, we must think about these SaaS Security Risk and Challenges & How To Mitigate Them. Let’s do it!
If your business is increasingly deploying SaaS applications, be on the lookout for these 13 important SaaS Security issues in Cloud Computing so you know how to implement the right SaaS security solutions.
The SaaS market will grow by 21.7% from 2021, reaching $482 billion in 2022.
SaaS Security Threats and Solutions
Ransomware through SaaS
When threat actors decide to target your SaaS applications, they can use more basic to the more sophisticated methods.
- Cybercriminal sends an OAuth application phishing email.
- User clicks on the link.
- User signs into their account.
- Application requests the user to allow access to read email and other functionalities.
- User clicks “accept.”
- This creates an OAuth token which is sent directly to the cybercriminal.
- The OAuth token gives the cybercriminal control over the cloud-based email or drive, etc. (based on the scopes of what access was given.)
- Cybercriminal uses OAuth to access email or drive, etc., and encrypt it.
- The next time the user signs into their email or drive etc., they will find their info encrypted. The ransomware attack has deployed.
Third Party Risk Management
The involvement of third-party vendors into an company’s internal processes and operations creates security risks. Therefore, companies must establish an assessment process for third-party vendors to assess and monitor the risk posed by third parties.
The security assessments of third-party companies can be a useful tool that can help companies collect information and other security information on third-party companies prior to concluding a business partnership.
When you are using a SaaS (Software-as-a-Service), it means that some of your resources are stored and used in another company’s database, as your company is not the one providing the software for your operations. You can have an amazing security structure in your own company, but you can’t guarantee that for the third party you’re working with.
So what you need to do to fix this problem is to use high-end risk management tools that are used in a third party or SaaS tool. These tools are great when you have no other way than to let your SaaS provider store some sensitive data, but you still need to make sure it’s secure. SaaS risk management tools can be found online from cloud-based providers.
Saas Security Risk assessment
Risk assessment starts with analyzing the different technologies and data. It also means examining the data’s storage and how it relates to business processes and other SAAS/PAAS applications. Make sure you’re conducting security audits regularly to address any security risks that are identified.
It can be scary to use different applications because they could all expose you to cyber risk. But if you assess the risk of every one you use, then you’ll know how much it affects your business overall.
You’ll need to check a wide variety of items before trusting an application to protect your company’s sensitive data. These include everything from how well it’s configured, to whether it complies with standard security standards, and you should monitor access credentials for any abnormal activity.
Identity management issues
Identity management and access control are key no matter what service you’re using. If you have a private network, you need to make sure who is accessing, whom you are accessing, and more importantly, why you need to access a particular resource. When it comes to SaaS, this is much more important as modern businesses use a variety of them, not just one.
You must set certain policies and services for access permission and user authentication. You can ask your cybersecurity provider what they have to offer in terms of verification technologies. This is crucial to minimize SaaS risks.
Lack of Transparency
SaaS providers often keep their clients in the dark about their security. On the surface, they promise to keep data safe better than other providers, or at least assure that their systems are tough enough to serve as a reliable alternative to insecure solutions.This however should not be overblown. There are bound to be valid concerns regarding the provider’s lack of transparency on how they actually handle their entire security protocol.
The issue of transparency is a controversial one. It’s causing distrust from some customers who are left with unanswered questions about the services or products they’re using. Without the transparency, both partners and industry analysts may not be getting their needs met.
However, software providers point out that the lack of transparency is what keeps their services secure. Revealing information about data centers or operations may compromise the client’s security, but the argument still leaves other users with concerns.
If you’re getting a service from a SaaS provider, you can’t leave all the security tasks to them, because you don’t know what they use to protect your data or how well they store it. You need your own ways to control your own data and protect it well from Data breach. When you have control over your resources things will be much easier and of course much more secure.
That’s where constant monitoring comes into play. Just like any other part of your network, you need a trained IT security team to monitor your SaaS tools and the information they contain on a regular basis.
Not only will this let you know what’s going on there, but it will also allow your IT team to make any necessary adjustments to how it’s stored and protected from Data breach.
Secure access to the cloud
SaaS is mostly used in the cloud, even if you can opt for on-premises options. Since you will be giving your employees remote access (because the resources in a SaaS tool will be available in the cloud), you need to ensure that cloud access is secure. If your cloud access is compromised, you risk malicious users tracking your private network. This is a common SaaS risk.
Using cloud-based security services is perhaps the most important thing you need on your SaaS security. Things like VPN or Zero Trust are great tools to ensure secure remote access, to name a few.
That said, there are plenty of other services on the market that are SaaS compatible and will complete your SaaS journey by offering maximum security. You must adapt to emerging cloud technology, including the security tools you use.
Even if you have the most advanced cybersecurity methods in place, something can happen and you can lose a significant amount of your resources, especially if you use SaaS applications and don’t know where your data is stored. Saas application security risks like Natural disasters, outages, and other major events can hamper your SaaS provider’s ability to stay up and running.
Although they sound like the end of the world, they are not. Things like this will always happen and we really have no way of preventing them. But what you can do is ask your SaaS provider questions about how they will restore your data in case of such things.
Another thing to consider is if they have a plan for these situations. A disaster recovery plan that is explainable and feasible is a valuable asset to look for in SaaS tools.
Shadow IT is the term given to systems, devices, applications, and services that are not on your organization’s radar. This can be really dangerous because these areas account a lot of digital security risks like data theft and hacking. The problem with shadow IT is that SaaS services are relatively easy to acquire and use. Some people might think this is a good thing, but it puts a lot of pressure on your teams to vet these products before they’re used. It’s even difficult for departments like legal, procurement, renowned IT support services, and privacy to prevent the spread of shadow IT within the organization unknowingly.
An organization’s open communication saas security policy is vulnerable to many risks, including data exposure and malware. They need high-quality security solutions in order to close these gaps.
Phishing remains a threat
Email remains the most common threat vector. In fact, over 90% of successful cyberattacks start with a phishing email. Cybercriminals use phishing emails to trick victims into delivering payloads using malicious attachments or URLs, harvesting credentials through fake login pages, or committing fraud through identity theft. But modern phishing attacks are also increasingly sophisticated and often highly targeted.
As companies continue to accelerate the implementation of SaaS email (eg Office 365 or Microsoft Azure, G Suite) and other productivity applications, phishing is evolving alongside and also targeting the cloud. Cloud applications represent the next frontier for phishing since users must identify themselves to access their accounts, and this authentication is driven by standard protocols such as OAuth.
90% of the successful cyberattacks starting with a phishing email.
For example, cyber criminals have targeted Microsoft Office 365 with highly sophisticated phishing attacks—including baseStriker, ZeroFont, and PhishPoint —to bypass Microsoft’s security controls. Many secure email gateways, such as Mimecast, were also unable to stop these phishing emails.
Another example is Google’s Gmail suffered a massive phishing attack in 2017. A larger-than-life email asked for permission and open access to documents and email accounts. The attack exploited Google’s OAuth protocol.
Account hacks open the door to cyber threats
In an account takeover, the threat actor hijacks an employee’s work login information by launching a credential phishing campaign against a company or buying credentials on the dark web after leaking data from a third party.
The threat actor can then use the stolen credentials to gain additional access or privileges. A hacked account may not be discovered for a long time.
Another security issue in saas model – Another risk of moving to the cloud is IT’s lack of control over users: what data is accessible to which users and what level of user access is there? Employees can then inadvertently delete data, resulting in data loss, or expose sensitive data to unauthorized users, resulting in data leakage.
The unknown of new malware and zero-day attacks
SaaS applications, especially file storage and sharing services (e.g. Dropbox, Box, OneDrive, etc.), have become a strategic threat vector for spreading ransomware and zero-day malware. According to Bitglass, 44% of businesses going digital had some form of malware in at least one of their cloud applications. Attacks in SaaS environments are difficult to identify and stop, as they can be carried out without users being aware of them.
One of the advantages of using SaaS applications is the automatic synchronization of files and data between devices. It can also be a channel for spreading malware. The hacker would only have to upload a malicious PDF or Office file to the SaaS sharing or storage applications and the synchronization functions would do the rest.
Compliance and auditing
Government mandates, like GDPR, and regulations for industries like healthcare (HIPAA), retail (PCI DSS), and finance (SOX) require auditing and reporting tools to demonstrate cloud compliance, plus data protection requirements.
Organizations should ensure that sensitive data is secure, deploy capabilities to log user activity and implement audit trails in all sanctioned applications.
When it comes to security, employees are often the weak link. Insider threats don’t always mean harm. User negligence can lead to an accidental insider attack and remains a major risk for businesses of all sizes. This risk isn’t just about weak passwords, shared credentials, or lost/stolen laptops.
It extends to data stored in the cloud, where it can be shared with external sources and often accessed from any device or location.
But sometimes insider threats unfortunately have malicious intent. Workers (such as personnel and directors of businesses and communications service providers) who abuse their authorized access to an organization’s or communications service provider’s networks, systems, and data may cause intentional harm or exfiltrate information.
Denial of Service (DoS)
Denial of Service (DoS) attacks aim to bring down a site, network or server by overloading it with an unmanageable amount of traffic. This can prevent the website or server from working properly or even crash it completely.
Distributed Denial of Service (DDoS) attacks rely on botnets and large numbers of infected devices to increase the volume of traffic used in the attack.
The SQL (Structured Query Language) injection attack is one of the most common attacks against applications and websites. SQL injections are particularly dangerous because they can be performed on a public-facing web page.
SQL injection attacks can occur through forms, cookies, and even HTTP headers. Depending on the malicious code, an SQL injection attack can lead to the theft of passwords, customer financial information, and more. SQL injection attacks are not easy to identify and can result in serious data breaches.
How To Mitigate Saas Security Risks And Secure Applications?
Modern organizations are increasingly turning to SaaS solutions to run their critical operations.
According to Gartner, the market for SaaS solutions is expected to grow by 21.7% from 2021 and reach $482 billion in 2022.
If organizations don’t integrate SaaS-specific security processes into their existing information security policies, they join the 90% of organizations who inappropriately share sensitive data. By 2025, this number will rise to 95%.
Saas Risk Mitigation
SaaS providers are not likely to alter their business process or environment to meet individual customers’ needs and standards. This approach leaves customers to figure out other ways of managing risk. Risk identified in SaaS providers often must be mitigated by the customer through compensating controls in the customer’s organization.
- One of the ways we help our clients is by integrating their SaaS platforms to the organization’s SSO solution. This will require all employees to use MFA protocols for logging in.
- If the platform supports it, a RBAC mechanism is a great security feature to implement.
- If you want security, we’ll store your data backups outside the SaaS platform.
- Providing employees with periodic security training
- Try Security Plugins that lock down access to your company’s API so that customers have to ask for permission every time they want to use a new service.
The rapid adoption of email and SaaS applications and constant technological advancements have resulted in multiple options for securing SaaS email and data.
Targeting large enterprises, security vendors introduced Cloud Access Security Brokers (CASB) as a solution that provides visibility, access control, and data protection across cloud services using a gateway, proxy, or APIs.
Although traditional CASB services provide robust capabilities for large enterprises, they are not suitable for all types of businesses. In addition to being expensive and often requiring complex deployments, few CASB services provide SaaS email security like Office 365 Mail and Gmail, leaving it up to businesses to set up and maintain separate security controls. .
The widespread adoption of email and SaaS applications within enterprises has created the need to create an affordable and easy-to-use SaaS security solution. Fortunately, certain approaches can help limit or eliminate new risks caused by SaaS applications.
The fast-growing SaaS business has seen steadily increasing threats as well as cyber attacks due to its reliance on IT more than any other. These attacks surge up to a top position among all cyber attacks of the world year after year. Given the high end SaaS market potential and growth, the hackers will keep devaluing its reputation by inflating the number of targeted cyber attacks on the SaaS sites and applications.
The flaw in the SaaS architecture makes it exposed for cyber attacks and there are plenty of concerns which need to be sorted out to provide better protection from these threats in order to build trust in the minds of investors, clients, customers and users. With the essentials out of the way, we can now focus on identifying and learning more about the top SaaS security risks that are likely to affect businesses in 2023.
Be sure to take the necessary precautions and be aware of these risks.