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4 Security Concerns for SaaS Applications

We’ve seen the growth of offerings in the SaaS application industry swell to levels that were incomprehensible only a few short years ago. With internet connections and bandwidth expanding to cover even the most remote of populations, these apps offer a simpler fashion of offering users their software application needs in a palatable package. The device or operating system a user chooses does not prohibit them from using a SaaS app, and modern offerings of most SaaS applications are quite affordable for the average user and even the enterprise solution. To further simplify things, gone are the days of installing bloated applications, as most SaaS apps require the user to simply sign up. 

These are all great factors in further understanding the proliferation of mega-players in the SaaS application industry — from Dropbox to Google Drive, from Slack to Trello, all of these apps are focused on providing their product to users in an easy-to-access and simple fashion.

However, as these apps grow in popularity, their security concerns heighten tenfold. Studies like this show that in 2017, the average cost of a data breach for larger SaaS apps was just short of $4 million, a cost that only the major players can afford to stomach. More so, with each breach, customer turnover increases, which puts an even higher cost on customer acquisition. To put it simply, having a plan in place for the security needs of a SaaS application is, quite possibly, the difference between success and failure.

Protection First

Enterprise SaaS applications are the most susceptible to attack, as they generally house the most stores of sensitive user data. As a result, they are often the subject of attack on a few common means of security threat. Inappropriate sharing of data can lead to loss of information, damage to sensitive data and employee accounts becoming compromised are just a few of the concerns that the modern Enterprise SaaS application faces.

In order to properly prepare for these types of security concerns, SaaS apps should go about taking preventative steps in preparation for the worst. 

Let’s go over 4 of the major security concerns for every SaaS application.

1. Authentication

Authentication is the first means of protecting a user’s account and sensitive data and should be treated as one of the most important factors in being security-minded. OAuth provides a secure state of mind when using a 3rd-party provider like Google. When customers are creating their accounts, however, you should always encourage a rigorous and complex password system, requiring mixed-case, numerals, and even special characters.  

Two-factor authentication is generally seen as a must for applications housing particularly sensitive data, such as credit card numbers or social security numbers. Take steps to warn users of business SaaS applications that accessing their sensitive work data on personal computers can be risky, as it makes the company’s job of controlling user actions or tracking data transmission harder and more accessible to hackers. 

2. Data Transmission

Protecting a user’s sensitive data in transmission between the client and the server is paramount. A strong cryptographic library or tool helps to keep data safe in the journey from a user to the server and should be thoroughly researched before implementation. A good cryptography tool can be the best approach to stopping hackers’ attempts at stealing user data.

Keeping a strong mind as to the third-party plugins and tools you implement is also incredibly important. While many open-source components offer a quick implementation of functionality without the need to build it yourself, they are also much more liable to house security concerns or malicious code. To ensure that your plugins are safe, monitor their code for changes daily if you continuously upgrade them through their public version control. 

3. Logging/Auditing

Maintaining and preserving audit logs is key to ensuring your SaaS application will be better prepared for any abnormalities that may arise. Make sure you document the resources that were accessed, as well as destination and source addresses, timestamps, and user login information. This helps to aid in diagnostic performance and error correction, especially when preventatively taking action against suspicious activity. 

Make sure that you preserve logs through whichever management tool you prefer, with both developers and testers contributing to this history. A thorough security backlog helps current and future developers maintain their awareness of the activity and threats that have occurred.

4. Smart Framework

Secure deployment is pivotal in the operation and safety of a SaaS application. In the case of the cloud, DoS attacks and network penetration should be a concern when choosing a provider. If possible, plan to go with one of the major providers like Google or Amazon, who can offer the highest level of security for your sensitive data. If deploying on-premise, the onus falls on the company to adhere to strict security protocols. Always ensure that your system adheres to the strict industry principles and standards on security.

If possible, hire the services of an outside penetration testing team to perform a full blind discovery. Often you will find those security professionals from outside of your organization are able to find and document vulnerabilities better than your in-house team, as they are not prone to the assumptions that developers or IT professionals familiar with the product may be. You will often be surprised t find what an “outside set of eyes” can find when they start digging into your application.

Be Safe Out There

Whether starting development on a new SaaS application or updating and reassessing the security concerns of an already-released product, operate under the assumption that you will constantly be under attack for the sensitive data that you house or transmit on behalf of your users. A smart and dedicated approach can be the difference between long-term success in your industry and finding yourself the focus of a major security breach.

Kloudless builds our products with security in mind, first and foremost. On top of adhering to the industry standards for all of our products, we also help security solutions go about protecting user data, be they a CASB, DLP, or E-Discovery. To learn more about how Kloudless can help your security solution, head over to our security solutions page now and get started on safeguarding the people who trust your application.

Published By

David Hallinan

David Hallinan is an Integration Strategist and Head of Content at Kloudless. He enjoys painting, JavaScript, vintage synths, drum machines and forcing his sports allegiances on his children.

View all posts by David Hallinan