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Cloud Security

What is SSPM?: A Comprehensive Guide 101

Software as a Service (SaaS) companies are everywhere these days. SaaS products are trendy among users; many businesses need to learn about these solutions. Companies are embracing a shift from the traditional workplace to SaaS technology solutions. And it takes only 7 hours to implement new software. 86% of customers report using cloud services, and […]

Mansi B.

Written by Mansi B.

September 22, 2023 | 9 min read

Software as a Service (SaaS) companies are everywhere these days.

SaaS products are trendy among users; many businesses need to learn about these solutions. Companies are embracing a shift from the traditional workplace to SaaS technology solutions. And it takes only 7 hours to implement new software.

86% of customers report using cloud services, and SaaS applications are hosted on cloud infrastructures. Organizations expect to grow cloud service usage and adoption over the next 12 months.

Software engineers are the most significant users of SaaS, and companies estimate that more than 70% of business apps today are SaaS-based. These numbers will increase to 85% by 2025, and we can expect a 5x increase in the usage of SaaS apps by the next three years.

SaaS is a growing industry, and with that comes increased security risks. Companies need help maintaining visibility over their security posture when migrating traditional infrastructure into cloud services. Many challenges are associated with hosting data and applications remotely. Consequently, inadequate access control and compliance management processes make SaaS security more complex.

The good news is that many SaaS Security Posture Management Tools (SSPM) are available. SaaS-based security posture management solutions offer increased visibility and address critical security challenges. Look at SaaS security posture management and see how companies can eliminate cloud environment attacks and malware and combat various SaaS-based cyber threats.

Table of Contents:

  1. What is SSPM (SaaS Security Posture Management)?
  2. Why is SSPM Important?
  3. How is SSPM different from CSPM?
  4. How does SSPM Work?
  5. Benefits of SSPM
  6. SSPM Best Practices
  7. SSPM Challenges
  8. SSPM Use Cases
  9. Best SaaS Security Posture Management Tools
  10. Conclusion

What is SSPM (SaaS Security Posture Management)?

SaaS Security Posture Management is an automated solution that continuously monitors SaaS applications and ensures continuous data compliance. SSPM allows organizations to access SaaS applications from any device, maintain a SaaS security posture, and make it difficult for malicious threat actors to compromise or influence the ecosystem. SaaS Security Posture Management also gives them greater insight into cloud application security and enables organizations to mitigate threats better.

SSPM complements the Cloud Access Security Broker (CASB), which is known to enforce a company’s cybersecurity policies. Companies can conduct frequent SSPM audits to maintain a robust cyber security posture and strictly adhere to the latest industry regulations.

SaaS Security Posture Management (SSPM) is a category of automated cloud security tools used for tracking, monitoring, and remediating threats found in SaaS applications. Misconfigurations, compliance policy violations, unused user accounts, excessive privileges, and other security flaws are all issues detected by SSPM security.

Most SaaS applications and services host mission-critical data on the cloud. IT operations teams experience huge workloads and need to tackle day-to-day challenges. They need more time to conduct manual audits, and with SaaS environments growing increasingly complex, there are potentially hundreds of security settings and configurations waiting to be reviewed.

Businesses feel overwhelmed with the growing SaaS cyber security landscape, which is where SSPM solutions come in. Modern SSPM solutions incorporate technologies such as Artificial Intelligence (AI), Machine Learning (ML), deep learning, and other intelligent trends to make security assessments more comprehensive and efficient.

Features of SSPM

The key features of SSPM are:

  •  Continuous monitoring – SaaS Security Posture Management monitors SaaS applications and reviews security rules 24/7. It provides active protection against threats and implements the best security measures for adequate data protection.
  • Regulatory compliance managementSSPM sets security and compliance standards for organizations according to industry benchmarks. It identifies changes in configurations and determines whether they are insecure or not.
  • Multi-application supportSSPM systems are suited for use with modern SaaS applications. These solutions are designed to integrate seamlessly with the latest SaaS tools, such as messaging platforms, dashboards, workspaces, customer support tools, and video conferencing stacks.

Why is SSPM Important?

Your company might use Slack to communicate with team members, Salesforce for CRM, Financial Cents for managing accounting procedures and Microsoft 365 for managing business operational processes. SaaS applications are hosted remotely across cloud data centers and handled by cloud service providers (CSPs). The adoption of SaaS applications increased with hybrid workforces, and using SSPM tools enables organizations to monitor and detect security gaps across SaaS ecosystems continuously. SSPM drastically reduces the chances of data leakage and minimizes the number of attack surfaces. It allows companies to identify insider threats, prevent compliance violations, and clarify that appropriate encryption standards and data handling procedures are enforced. Using a SaaS Security Posture Management solution also prevents major cloud misconfigurations and security events and maintains data integrity by ensuring high security.

Security administrators can assess SaaS configurations and ensure adherence to the best cyber security practices. SSPM also secures SaaS-to-SaaS app communications, provides centralized visibility and multilayered data protection, and offers many other benefits.

How is SSPM different from CSPM?

CSPM analyzes entire cloud deployments and reviews multiple levels of cloud computing stacks. CSPM tools scan serverless code, containers, and PaaS applications and monitor IaaS security. Modern CSPM tools have capabilities that SSPM solutions do not have, such as agentless vulnerability detection, automated incident response planners, secrets scanning, and active cloud workload protection. CSPM allows organizations to apply the best security standards across cloud environments, while SSPM is designed to focus primarily on SaaS applications. SSPM works on a smaller scale, offering specific features such as SaaS application security monitoring and automated security posture assessments.

When choosing a security posture management solution, it is crucial to consider the requirements of an organization. Businesses that want granular control and visibility into cloud environments find that using CSPM is the right way. On the other hand, SSPM is an excellent choice for addressing security issues related to SaaS applications. SSPM and CSPM offer powerful security posture management capabilities that help organizations protect their cloud infrastructure and secure SaaS applications hosted in these technology ecosystems.

How does SSPM Work?

SaaS Security Posture Management (SSPM) works by identifying errors in SaaS security setups. It reviews how users interact with SaaS solutions, what they can do, and restricts permissions. SSPM tools detect and delete inactive or unnecessary accounts for increased efficiency and better data protection. SSPM also continuously monitors SaaS configurations and implements security automation to improve overall security posture. SSPM identifies security compliance risk alerts and sends real-time alerts to users in organizations. It discovers vulnerabilities and mitigates them before they escalate and turn into major security issues. SSPM tools can mitigate these risks, improve data privacy protection, and secure SaaS environments too.

Benefits of SSPM

SaaS Security Posture Management offers the following benefits:

1. Ensures Continuous Compliance Management – Multi-cloud environments are highly dynamic and complex and deal with growing workloads daily. SaaS Security Posture Management implements the best data handling practices encryption and enforces well-known regulatory standards. It alerts administrators of potential security flaws and immediately takes corrective action. Modern SSPM workflows support compliance standards such as PCI-DSS, NIST, ISO 27001, and the CIS Benchmark.

2. Addresses Cloud Misconfigurations – Cloud misconfigurations occur by default within organizations, and vendors neglect security in design. SaaS SSPM analyzes an organization’s security posture and automatically evaluates all user permissions, settings, and roles. It prevents excessive account privileges lateral movement and ensures only authorized personnel can access sensitive data and SaaS resources. SaaS security posture management helps organizations implement a zero-trust security architecture and enforces the principle of least privilege access across multi-cloud environments. 

3. Single Pane of Glass VisibilitySSPM highlights all relevant security risks and centralizes security management for organizations. It makes it easier for stakeholders to manage risks and offers a single pane of glass visibility. Talent management can determine who has access to what sources and whether the roles assigned to users are appropriate. It also detects unused accounts, eliminates excessive permissions, and identifies problematic relationships between privileges and users, remediating them where needed. With improved SaaS visibility, organizations can better understand their security standing and inform users about upcoming security updates and other changes. 

SSPM Best Practices

The best SaaS Security Posture Management practices for organizations are:

  • Policy managementSSPM should enforce various security policies across an organization’s cloud infrastructure. SSPM solutions must be well-designed to satisfy multiple industry regulations and meet required security benchmarks. 
  • Reporting and Analytics – Good SSPM solutions provide comprehensive reporting and analytics to organizations. It helps them gain better insights into their SaaS security posture and make informed decisions about upcoming strategies and workflows. 
  • Continuously monitor SaaS applicationsSSPM must always analyze SaaS applications to look for threats, malicious activity patterns, and misconfigurations. SSPM solutions should allow customers to customize SaaS security policies and align them with specific business requirements. 
  • Vendor support – One of the best SSPM practices is delivering adequate vendor support. An SSPM solution with excellent vendor support is crucial for seamless implementation and ongoing success. Organizations can effectively manage third-party app integrations, reduce risks in SaaS environments, prioritize threats, and confidently navigate the SaaS security landscape when sufficient backing is received from the vendor.

SSPM Challenges

The biggest challenges with SaaS Security Posture Management are:

  • Shadow IT attacks – Shadow IT attacks on cloud technologies are becoming increasingly common. Employees often forget to revoke access or permissions before logging out of SaaS applications, and personal data can be misused. 
  • Unknown and hidden vulnerabilities – Misconfigurations in SaaS environments are an issue, and new cyber threats are emerging. Countries change state regulations, which can impact current business models. Keeping track of all these modifications, configuring complex environments, and uncovering hidden or unknown vulnerabilities in infrastructures is a significant challenge. 
  • Lack of access management – File sharing options these days are not regulated enough, which opens up more opportunities for information theft. Data shared publicly and with employees are at a security risk in SaaS applications. 
  • Insider threats are unpredictable, and there is no way of telling who could leak sensitive information. Accidentally deleting critical data while at work due to human error is another big issue. IT teams are helpless against such incidents and cannot do anything since trust is already established before granting employees that level of control and authorization.

SSPM Use Cases

The following are the top SaaS Security Posture Management use cases for organizations:

1. Data GovernanceSaaS Security Posture Management strengthens user data governance and prioritizes risk management by first identifying the highest permissions. It detects dormant accounts that still have access to data and removes them.

2. Employee trainingSaaS Security Posture Management regularly makes employees undergo cyber security training and teaches them the best cyber hygiene practices. It shows them how to identify phishing attacks, malware, ransomware, and other SaaS application security threats.

3. Incident Response PlanningSaaS Security Posture Management implements strong data access controls to prevent the leakage of sensitive information. It creates robust incident response plans and implements them for adequate data security and protection.

4. Regular auditsSSPM is used for periodic audits, updates, and security logging. It manages multiple user identities, governs SaaS-to-SaaS integrations, and reviews data-sharing settings.

Best SSPM Tools

The best SaaS Security Posture Management tools for businesses in 2024 are:

  1. PingSafe
  2. Cynet 360 AutoXDR
  3. AppOmni
  4. Adaptive Shield
  5. Metomic

#1. PingSafe

PingSafe provides a revolutionary Cloud-Native Application Protection Platform (CNAPP) that offers various SaaS-based security features. It provides powerful features such as generating SBOM from code, multi-tenancy support, CI/CD integrations, writing custom security policies, and many others. Cloud Security Posture Management (CSPM) features secure serverless functions, workloads, VMs, and containers. The platform can also secure Kubernetes and EKS clusters and provides reliable Kubernetes Security Posture Management (KSPM) services.

Key features:

• Agentless vulnerability management services for securing cloud workloads

• Cloud Detection and Response (CDR) tools for active threat discovery, investigation, and remediation.

• Real-time scanning of secrets for over 800+ types in GitHub, GitLab, and BitBucket

• Continuous compliance monitoring for 20+ industry standards such as PCI-DSS, ISO 27001, NIST, CIS Benchmark, etc.

• Automatically remediates misconfigurations across Terraform, CloudFormation, and other IaC templates

•  Monitors domain names and enforces shift-left security

#2. Cynet 360 AutoXDR

Cynet enables organizations to automate their entire security workflow and provides enhanced visibility and protection for optimizing SaaS security. It has an easy-to-use and intuitive XDR platform automates threat investigations and remediates threats across multi-cloud environments. Cynet can also perform on-demand threat analysis, incident response, and threat-hunting activities.

#3. AppOmni

AppOmni caters to multiple industry verticals like healthcare, banking, finance, and technology and is one of the leading providers of SSPM tools worldwide. It pushes regular updates and releases to keep cloud environments secure. AppOmni scans security controls, APIs, and configuration settings, making it convenient for security teams to protect sensitive data across all SaaS applications. It offers in-depth security coverage for SaaS apps, actionable insights, visibility, and automation.

#4. Adaptive Shield

Adaptive Shield is an industry leader in detecting configuration weaknesses and remediating them. It eliminates privilege errors and helps organizations save time by ensuring continuous industry compliance. Adaptive Shield lets users create tickets and see detailed timeline views of their SaaS environments. Users can track and monitor for changes across these environments and see how they impact the organization. In addition, it can also monitor third-party integrations, SaaS device inventory, HR management systems, etc.

#5. Metomic

Metomic gives complete visibility over sensitive data for SaaS apps and helps reduce various SaaS security risks. It is compatible with Google Drive, Slack, and Zendesk and enables compliance with global regulations and standards. Metomic caters mainly to the financial services and insurance sectors. It actively detects threats, remediates them, and allows tech companies to work remotely with employees.

Conclusion

Improving SaaS Security Posture Management is not a sprint but a marathon. Organizations must combine a blend of intelligent strategies and tools and ensure that the right policies are enforced. Malicious actors are always coming up with the latest tricks, which means companies must dial down on their security measures. It’s not just the targeted technologies but also the users operating them. Organizations head in the right direction when SaaS Security Posture Management (SSPM) tools are incorporated.