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SaaS Security Checklist: An Easy Guide 101

More than 55% of security executives report that they experienced a data breach once in two years, and 12% have said they weren’t even aware of their SaaS security compromises. Data leakage is one of the top security incidents that plague cloud SaaS services, and changing business environments put accounts at increased risk.  There is […]

Mansi B.

Written by Mansi B.

September 22, 2023 | 6 min read

More than 55% of security executives report that they experienced a data breach once in two years, and 12% have said they weren’t even aware of their SaaS security compromises. Data leakage is one of the top security incidents that plague cloud SaaS services, and changing business environments put accounts at increased risk. 

There is also no consistency of data classification across on-premise and SaaS environments, and malicious actors take full advantage of the situation. There is much work that has to be done to secure multi-cloud ecosystems. Risk assessment and mitigation practices for SaaS applications need to be reviewed regularly. A SaaS security checklist includes the best standards and security practices that manage and protect cloud-based environments. It assesses the organization’s existing tools, evaluates controls, and tests their effectiveness. 

This blog will give readers a comprehensive overview of SaaS Security Checklist action items and tell them everything they need to know about it.

Table of Contents:

  1. What is SaaS Security?
  2. Why Is SaaS Security Important?
  3. Benefits of SaaS Security
  4. SaaS Security Checklist
  5. SaaS Security Checklist Best Practices
  6. How does PingSafe help in SaaS Security?
  7. Conclusion

What is SaaS Security?

SaaS applications store a high volume of sensitive data such as transaction details, personally identifiable information (PII), and payment card data. Many organizations are well-experienced in managing risks associated with Infrastructure-as-a-Service (IaaS) and Platform-as-a-Service (PaaS) environments but not SasS environments. SaaS applications operate differently and exhibit increasing complexity as cloud environments evolve. Internal teams must prioritize collaboration functionality and ensure that SaaS security guidelines align with business requirements.

Typically, SaaS security involves using specialized tools and services to manage new SaaS technologies. It leverages automation, threat intelligence, and policy enforcement on an ongoing basis to identify, detect, and mitigate emerging threats. SaaS security aims to secure all endpoints and provide seamless interactive experiences between users and SaaS applications.

Why Is SaaS Security Important?

SaaS applications are used in corporate networks to transport sensitive data and maintain exchange confidentiality. However, more than traditional security controls employed with these solutions are needed and cannot provide identity-centric security. One of the significant challenges enterprises face is unauthorized access to information in SaaS environments and credentials theft. Attackers target victims via social engineering or phishing attacks and trick them into leaking sensitive information. Organizations that operate in regulatory IT industries must also adhere to compliance, data privacy, and protection regulations. Ensuring strong identity security is essential to meeting compliance obligations, and SaaS access management involves verifying the identity of registered users. 

In today’s day and age, more than traditional identity management solutions are needed. Consumers want robust identity risk assessments and do not trust organizations that don’t prioritize security investments. Inactive SaaS accounts are responsible for storing company data and pose a considerable risk since they lack identity controls within the apps. Malicious actors could exploit dormant accounts, cause data breaches, and lead to lateral network movements.

Securing SaaS identities is critical for organizations since it prevents impersonation attempts. Implementing strong authentication controls, proactive monitoring, and resilient SaaS environments can help companies keep their customers secure. It is also important to simplify user experience, and SaaS security can help manage such domains. SaaS security teaches users the importance of taking accountability for their data, why not to share information with anonymous individuals, and what they can do to protect themselves.

Benefits of SaaS Security

SaaS security offers organizations the following benefits:

  • Easy updates and maintenance – The SaaS provider handles regular updates and maintenance. SaaS security solutions are an excellent economical choice for securing and growing businesses. There is no need to buy dedicated hardware equipment, and all components are hosted remotely across cloud data centers.
  • Seamless integrations – SaaS security services can easily integrate with software APIs and cloud services. They provide automated data backup monitoring and are quick to adopt.
  • Highly scalable – SaaS solutions are highly scalable, flexible, and reliable. They are ideal for dynamic and complex cloud environments. Users pay for only the features they use, and most SaaS providers charge no upfront fees. There is no vendor lock-in period; organizations can cancel their subscription and switch to other SaaS providers anytime.
  • Legal compliance – SaaS security solutions follow the latest legal compliance standards like the CIS benchmark and security guidelines provided by the National Cyber Security Center (NSCC). Every SaaS vendor requires individuals to read and sign the Service Level Agreement (SLA) before signing up. Customer data privacy and security are never compromised.

SaaS Security Checklist

Here is a summary of the questions to be asked on the SaaS security checklist:

  • Provider viability – Is the SaaS service provider reliable? How long have they been invested in delivering SaaS security services? What is the SaaS service provider’s success rate for improving SaaS security? Do they upgrade their SaaS security stack yearly and improve existing products annually? Do they offer cloud-based financial risk management services and SaaS application performance optimization?
  • Data isolation security – Does the SaaS provider share customer data with other customers? Is the data isolation being used secure and not prone to external attacks? Does the SaaS provider offer multitenant support and can extend the features of existing applications and databases? Is it possible to securely manage and relocate sensitive data whenever needed? (for example, when businesses migrate to different countries or need to meet specific legal regulations requirements).
  • GDPR & Compliance – Does the SaaS vendor offer GDPR and CCPA controls and meet industry-standard data privacy regulations? Do they support various compliance standards like PCI, HIPAA, CIS Benchmark, etc.? Does the SaaS security service provider have specific measures to meet changing regulatory requirements? Are any built-in security tools included to assist with continuous compliance and audit-based risk management?
  • Advanced security features – What if the business requires additional SaaS security features? Are alerting, monitoring, and SaaS threat remediation included with these solutions? Can the SaaS security tool identify and access controls across multiple SaaS applications?
  • SaaS operations – Does the service provider offer global access to data and services in different geographical regions? Does the SaaS security vendor have enterprise-grade global data centers worldwide? Does the vendor proactively enter into contracts with other SaaS security contractors?

Additional questions will come to mind when framing the SaaS security checklist. Please note that considerations around data privacy regulations, compliance reporting, and SaaS data security will change depending on the country, legal requirements, and business model.

SaaS Security Checklist Best Practices

The following are the best SaaS security practices that can be used to help protect businesses. Every good SaaS security checklist implements the following:

  • Protect Sensitive Data

Data security is one of the most important aspects of any SaaS security checklist. Using the OWASP (Open Web Application Security Project) benchmarks is a great starting point for SaaS software vendors and users. Checklist items can contain data deletion policies, monitoring rules, and data storage, processing, and sharing guidelines. Data policies should be specific, actionable, and scalable as well.

  • Secure Customers and Employees

A good SaaS security checklist will include relevant training and documentation materials. It will cover topics such as the best password practices, how to use personal devices at work, and recommend not sharing account details with unauthorized individuals.

Enforcing SaaS security practices like multi-factor authentication, role-based access controls, and other permissions will prevent employee accounts from getting compromised. SaaS software solutions and databases must be robust enough to protect customer data and payment details. Ensuring that SaaS solutions comply with the latest industry standards like CCPA, GDPR, etc., is critical.

Performing regular static application security testing (SAST) is also an effective way of improving SaaS security throughout the Software Development Lifecycle (SLDC) phase.

  • Hire Security Resources

There is a need to invest in SaaS security engineers to help deal with security challenges in organizations effectively. Dedicated security resources are essential in securing touchpoints defined within SaaS environments. It also takes care of any security debts, provides ease of implementation, and streamlines SaaS workflows after careful review and analysis. Security resources are great at identifying what policies are suitable for organizations and which are irrelevant. They can provide insights about legal requirements, draft accurate timelines for compliance, and ensure they are thoroughly adhered to.

How does PingSafe help in SaaS Security?

PingSafe is a true MVP in the SaaS security industry and offers many cutting-edge features. Its revolutionary Cloud-Native Application Protection Platform (CNAPP) spots SaaS misconfiguration vulnerabilities and recommends appropriate actions. PingSafe can perform agentless vulnerability assessments and has a Cloud Detection Response (CDR) tool that empowers organizations with real-time threat discovery, intelligence collection, and remediation.

The platform can scan over 800+ secret types and conduct real-time secret scanning. It prevents cloud credentials leakages and offers Kubernetes Security Posture Management (KSPM) services. PingSafe’s Cloud Security Posture Management (CSPM) services secure cloud VMs, containers, and serverless functions before deployment.

Its IaC security tool supports using CloudFormation, TerraForm, Helm, and other IaC templates. It is excellent for enforcing shift-left security. PingSafe can also perform continuous SaaS compliance monitoring for up to 20+ industry regulations such as PCI-DSS, NIST, ISO 27001, etc. It can generate SBOM from code, monitor domain names, export compliance reports, and enable role-based access control. The platform offers multi-tenancy support and single sign-on capabilities and can write custom security policies, too. 

Conclusion

SaaS security delivers instant visibility and risk reduction by continuously scanning for over-permissive privileges, permission mistakes, and SaaS API failures. It protects against increasingly advanced threats on SaaS applications and helps various companies safeguard their sensitive information. The best is a SaaS solution that consolidates alerts and reporting in a single unified dashboard and enables users to define, configure, and verify configuration policies and rules across all applications. Many open-source tools are available, but solutions with premium features offer advanced threat intelligence and other additional insights.