Rakesh Soni is CEO of LoginRadius, a leading provider of cloud-based digital identity solutions.
SaaS, a new tech-trend is breeding an industry. Needless to say, this hype is understandable.
SaaS packs with itself a multitude of benefits that make the overall business process more flexible, cost-effective, and scalable. It allows access to a plethora of core business applications without needing to install or maintain any software, middleware, or hardware.
This makes the whole process of hosting and using complex and sophisticated applications a lot more affordable and convenient. In addition, SaaS vendors tend to charge you on the basis of your activity: automatically increasing or lowering charges in response to usage.
SaaS also promotes and is the primary aid to efficient remote working. It allows the workforce to access designated data and work systems remotely through the internet. Since the SaaS vendor has most likely already tested and customized various applications for most kinds of devices, you don’t need to stress your development team about that either.
SaaS, short for Software-as-a-Service, is a cloud-based software model. In simple terms, you can rent the use of a cloud-hosted application that can be used and accessed remotely over the internet by relevant stakeholders. Stakeholders can include the workforce, clients, vendors, and others that may need to have access to any data or application on your system. The software is rented on a subscription basis.
As the name suggests, SaaS management is aimed at reducing the risks associated with the exploitation of unmanaged tools. Managing and monitoring the life-cycle of all applications within the company’s SaaS ecosystem and then assessing the access authority and history of an application are some aspects of SaaS data protection.
Due to the cloud-based functionality of SaaS applications and their global accessibility, sensitive personal data is more susceptible to malicious attacks. Research by IDC indicated that 8 in 10 US companies experienced data breaches due to cloud misconfigurations.
This susceptibility makes Software as a Service a target of the strict General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) framework that is imposed on any organization that stores EU citizens’ information. The convenience and accessibility of SaaS applications make it easy for organizations to lose track of the number of SaaS vendors they’re subscribed to and hence easy to maintain GDPR compliance standards. GDPR is, of course, just one of the many data protection frameworks that SaaS application users must comply with.
While the vulnerabilities can be overwhelming, Software as a Service’s inherent benefits cannot be overstated. SaaS has become a need in many businesses and will go on to become one for many others in the time to come. This growing reliance calls for a similar improvement in security. On occasions, data security can be of existential importance to organizations.
Here are 5 reasons that emphasize the importance of SaaS data protection:
1. Data recovery
Most SaaS vendors don’t have a data backup. Hence, in the case of an unfortunate accidental deletion of a crucial file, you might not be able to recover it. And, just in case your data processors happen to be amongst the select few that do offer data security and data backup, you can expect that their typical recovery period would span weeks and there would still be no guarantee that the data would be recovered completely. They have, after all, hundreds of thousands of gigs of customer data to search through.
Hacking is an extensive and complicated process. A hacker wants to make the most out of their investment. Given the growing size, popularity, and valuation of the SaaS industry, there’s no wonder hackers have diverted their attention to its growth.
For instance, ransomware is a kind of attack targeted fairly often in this industry. Ransomware involves holding/stealing the victim’s sensitive or personal data to either leak it to the public or to delete it. Businesses often have little to no choice in complying with the attacker’s requests and end up paying the demanded “ransom”.
3. Insider attacks
Rather frequently, employees within an organization try to exploit their privileges and extract sensitive information that could lay harm to the organization in pursuit of self-interest. However, that isn’t to say that similar harm cannot take place because of an honest mistake. We only know one thing for sure: even our stakeholders pose threat to an inadequately secured system.
4. Shared-responsibility model
Your data in the cloud isn’t the sole responsibility of the cloud service provider but a shared one between both parties. The formal expectation remains that some aspects of SaaS data protection will be covered by the SaaS vendor and others by the customer. More often than not though, clients overlook their half of responsibilities. An ESG study pointed out that as little as 8% of clients adequately understand the shared-responsibility model.
5. Record maintenance
SaaS management, and by extension SaaS data protection, allows one to usefully maintain a usage track record of the system of applications in the organization’s portfolio. Hence, allowing one to track and know which data is being accessed by which individual and at what point. Integrating it with RBA (Risk-Based Authentication) would automatically protect the data from suspicious activity as deemed by the embedded algorithms.
SaaS is a revolutionary innovation that’s making operations far more cost-effective and efficient for many organizations. There’s a year-on-year growth in its adoption and the subsequent improvements in the technology make it a worthwhile investment. The tremendous convenience and power also bring forth risks and vulnerabilities that must be actively mitigated.
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