Cyber Security

Top Cybersecurity Risks Faced by SaaS Companies and Ways to Fix Them

In today’s technology-driven world, the demand for Software as a Service (SaaS) is rapidly increasing. In fact, cloud adoption grew exponentially, especially...

Written by Niel Patel · 6 min read >
cybersecurity for small businesses

In today’s technology-driven world, the demand for Software as a Service (SaaS) is rapidly increasing.

In fact, cloud adoption grew exponentially, especially during the COVID-19 pandemic. This is because cloud computing seemed to be the obvious solution for organizations to continue running business operations smoothly.

A survey by O’Reilly also found that ninety per cent of organizations adopted cloud computing including SaaS services during the pandemic. 

However, with the rising adoption of cloud-based applications and SaaS services, also comes the mounting risk of cyber threats.

Today, SaaS companies face a multitude of cybersecurity risks such as data breaches, hacking attempts, and phishing attacks, which can lead to significant financial losses, reputation damage, and legal repercussions.

In this article, we will dive deep into the SaaS security importance, and talk about the top cybersecurity risks that SaaS companies encounter these days. We’ll also discuss effective measures to mitigate these risks, safeguard data, and protect your organization from potential cyberattacks.

Why is SaaS Security Important?

There are plenty of reasons why SaaS security is important.

For starters, as more businesses are adopting SaaS platforms to optimize & streamline their day-to-day business operations, they’re opening themselves to potential cybersecurity risks such as malware attacks and data breaches.

Therefore, it is critically important for businesses to take proactive steps to protect their sensitive data and systems from potential cyberattacks.

By implementing strong SaaS security measures, businesses can strengthen their cybersecurity and ensure the safety as well as the integrity of their sensitive data and safeguard their organization from potential cyberattacks.

However, in order to protect your data and systems from potential cyberattacks, you need to get acquainted with the top cybersecurity risks first. Once you know the SaaS security risks, only then can you identify and implement the right solutions to mitigate those risks.

Guess what? — That’s what we’re going to discuss in the rest of this post.

Top SaaS Cybersecurity Risks and Their Solutions

Here are the top SaaS cybersecurity risks and their solutions that every organization needs to learn and implement to protect themselves against cyber attacks.

Cloud Misconfigurations

As you may already know, most SaaS environments operate in the public cloud, which is why it is crucial for organizations to learn about the unique cyber threats that they pose.

Cloud misconfigurations, for instance, are the most critical cybersecurity risk that every organization must learn to mitigate.

For the uninitiated, cloud misconfigurations usually occur when an organization’s cloud environment is not configured appropriately, which often results in compromising data security and potential security breaches. 

Specifically, cloud misconfigurations can lead to the following cyber threats:

  • Phishing
  • Malware
  • Cloud Data Leaks
  • Ransomware
  • Insider Threats

A common reason behind the cause of cloud misconfigurations is allowing excessive permissions. 

To mitigate the risk of cloud misconfigurations, it’s essential for organizations to implement strict user access controls, monitor & analyze the cloud environment regularly, and utilize third-party cybersecurity solutions like CSPM to detect and resolve any cloud misconfigurations.

Supply Chain Attacks

Supply chain attacks are a type of cyberattack that targets an organization through a vulnerability in its software supply chain. 

These kinds of vulnerabilities usually arise from the implementation of poor cybersecurity practices. Cybercriminals exploit such vulnerabilities by targeting the source code, mechanisms, or processes of your software.

In other words, the attacker gains access to the software that a company uses and injects malware or other malicious code into the supply chain.

For example, a supply chain attack on a software vendor may lead to the installation of malicious code that infects the target system when the software is downloaded and installed. In this way, a single attack can affect multiple companies that use the compromised software. 

Supply chain attacks can be highly damaging as they can go unnoticed for long periods of time, and because the attacker gains access to trusted systems, they can bypass many security measures.

That’s why it’s critically important to gain complete visibility into your organization’s network in order to identify and remediate such supply chain vulnerabilities.

Third-Party Risks

Third-party risks refer to the risks that organizations face when they work with third-party vendors, suppliers, or service providers. 

As businesses increasingly rely on SaaS providers for various services, they also become vulnerable to their security risks. These risks include vulnerabilities in third-party systems, unauthorized access to sensitive information, or the accidental or deliberate disclosure of confidential data.

This is because most SaaS services & applications often require access to sensitive data and privileged information in order to provide their service.

For instance, a company that uses a third-party SaaS vendor to process credit card payments may be at risk if the vendor’s payment processing system is compromised. 

That’s why it is extremely critical to implement effective third-party risk management best practices such as conducting proper due diligence, including vetting potential vendors and regularly reviewing their security practices. By doing so, organizations can easily identify and mitigate any potential third-party risks.

Zero-Day Vulnerabilities

Zero-day vulnerabilities refer to security flaws in software or hardware that are unknown to the vendor or the public. And because zero-day vulnerabilities are unknown to the vendor, there are no patches or updates available to fix the vulnerability, leaving the system vulnerable to attack.

This allows hackers to exploit such vulnerabilities easily, gain unauthorized access to an organization’s system, and steal data or cause damage.

Recently, Accellion’s file-sharing system, FTA, was compromised in 2020 by web shell attacks and zero-day exploits to take advantage of an unpatched software vulnerability.

The worst part? — The security breach was actually part of a bigger supply chain attack that ended up compromising the private data of hundreds of Accellion customers, resulting in an operational meltdown.

The point is that zero-day vulnerabilities are difficult to detect. But it is possible to mitigate the risk of zero-day vulnerabilities by regularly updating software and hardware to the latest version.

Non-Compliance

Non-compliance is a serious cybersecurity risk and it can result in heavy financial penalties, reputational damage, and legal liabilities.

For the uninitiated, non-compliance refers to the organization’s failure to comply with relevant laws, regulations, and industry standards such as HIPAA, PCI DSS, GDPR, etc.

For instance, a company that fails to implement proper security measures to protect sensitive customer data may be found to be in violation of data protection laws. 

Similarly, if a company fails to comply with industry standards for security, it may be at risk of cyberattacks or data breaches. 

The good news is that non-compliance can be easily avoided by conducting regular compliance assessments, employee training, and the implementation of an appropriate data security policy and procedure.

Insufficient Due Diligence

Due diligence is basically a thorough assessment of a third-party vendor or new technology that an organization must conduct before sharing sensitive business information. 

Performing thorough due diligence helps organizations to verify the strength of vendors’ cybersecurity posture and regulatory compliance. 

Furthermore, it also helps to detect any existing cybersecurity risks, allowing the organization to request remediation before signing the partnership agreement.

Unfortunately, many organizations do not perform adequate due diligence when onboarding new vendors or adopting new technologies. This, in turn, often leaves them exposed to various types of cyber threats such as malware attacks, ransomware, and other forms of cybercrime.

Additionally, insufficient due diligence also leads to non-compliance with mandatory industry standards and regulations. 

Therefore, every organization must treat each third-party SaaS vendor as vigilantly as possible to prevent security breaches and other types of cyber attacks.

Insecure SaaS APIs

SaaS APIs (Application Programming Interfaces) are essential components of cloud-based applications, allowing different systems to interact with each other seamlessly. 

However, if the APIs are not secure, they can pose a significant cybersecurity risk to organizations that use them.

Insecure SaaS APIs can provide a gateway for cybercriminals to access sensitive data or systems. 

For example, attackers can exploit vulnerabilities in SaaS APIs to steal user credentials or perform cross-site scripting attacks. In some cases, attackers can also manipulate the APIs to modify or delete critical data, which can cause serious business disruption and financial loss.

In addition to this, insecure SaaS APIs can even lead to data leakage. If the APIs are not configured properly, they can expose sensitive data to unauthorized third parties, which can lead to reputation damage and legal consequences. 

Additionally, the lack of encryption or authentication in SaaS APIs can make it easier for attackers to intercept and tamper with data in transit, further compromising the security and integrity of the data.

To mitigate the risks associated with insecure SaaS APIs, organizations must implement best practices such as using strong authentication mechanisms, encrypting data in transit and at rest, and regularly testing and monitoring APIs for vulnerabilities

It is also essential to keep APIs up to date and to follow the principle of least privilege, which limits access to APIs to only the necessary parties. 

By taking these proactive measures, organizations can ensure that their SaaS APIs are secure and that they can continue to benefit from the advantages of cloud-based applications without exposing themselves to unnecessary cybersecurity risks.

Data Breaches

When it comes to cybersecurity, it is enough to rely solely on a SaaS provider for security when using their service, as their methods for protecting and storing data may be unknown. 

It is critical for organizations to take control of their own data and ensure it is well protected from potential data breaches. This can be achieved by having an in-house IT security team & cybersecurity tools that allow your security personnel to monitor the SaaS tools and the information they contain on a regular basis.

Remember, it is essential for organizations to have their own methods of controlling and protecting their data. 

While SaaS providers offer a level of security, it is not enough to rely completely on them for protection. 

By adopting the right cybersecurity tools and employing a trained IT security team, organizations can better protect themselves from potential data breaches and ensure that their sensitive data is stored and protected adequately.

Final Note

As you have learned, the cybersecurity risks that SaaS companies face nowadays are quite complex and constantly evolving. 

Therefore, it is necessary for SaaS companies to prioritize cybersecurity and take a comprehensive approach to managing risks. This includes implementing robust security protocols, conducting regular risk assessments, staying up-to-date on emerging threats, and investing in employee education and training.

As technology continues to advance and cyber threats become increasingly sophisticated, it is critical for us to remain proactive and adaptable. 

By embracing a security-first mindset and prioritizing cybersecurity at every level of your organization, you can reduce the likelihood and impact of security breaches and protect your sensitive data and assets.

Remember, cybersecurity is not just a technology problem, it is a people problem too. That’s why you must play a leading role in protecting your organization from cyber threats.

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