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Monday, July 15, 2024

SaaS Security: Essential Stats and Best Practices for 2024

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Don’t let SaaS security be an afterthought! Discover the top security threats and best practices for protecting your data in the cloud.

With SaaS solutions, businesses can use scalable and cost-effective software for all operations, from communication to data analytics, without heavy investment in custom IT infrastructure. Yet turning to third-party service providers always comes with data security risks, and SaaS apps are no exception. According to Statista, in 2023, 43% of respondents mentioned identity and access governance as their main security concern while adopting SaaS.

So, what are the most urgent threats in SaaS, and how can we deal with them? Security experts at Brights, a company specializing in SaaS development, shared the tips.

Essential SaaS Security Statistics and Insights

According to the Wing Security 2024 State of SaaS Security Report, 96.7% of organizations used at least one application that had a security incident in the past year. However, while SaaS security was overlooked for a while, it has become a priority due to regulatory pressure, AI expansion, and increased risk of breaches. Just take a look at these key findings from The Annual SaaS Security Survey Report:

  • 70% of enterprises are prioritizing SaaS security by creating dedicated teams to secure applications
  • Organizations increased SaaS security investments, adding 56% more staff and increasing budgets by 39% in 2023
  • 47% of organizations now have moderate visibility into their SaaS applications, while full visibility has more than doubled over the past year, reaching 23%

At the same time, while enterprises are putting more effort into SaaS security than ever, new threats continue to emerge, making the job increasingly challenging. For example, Microsoft’s Digital Defense Report showed an average of 4,000 blocked password attacks per second in 2023 — just one attack type out of dozens.

Main Challenges and Risks

Threat actors use more sophisticated attack methods as businesses build stronger walls around their SaaS infrastructure. The list of risks below is not comprehensive, but it contains the most urgent threats today, both familiar and emerging.

Supply Chain Attacks

Adopting third-party SaaS services often comes with a risk of supply chain attacks. Such threats happen when cybercriminals target a SaaS vendor to exploit it and gain unauthorized access to a larger network of companies.

In 2024 and beyond, security teams will face more difficulties in dealing with the threats posed by SaaS supply chains. There are prevention methods against this threat, such as careful access rights management. Yet, even well-established businesses with dedicated security teams aren’t immune. For instance, just last year, Slack’s GitHub-hosted code repositories were breached by attacking its SaaS supply chain.

Credential Exploitation

Organizations typically face the risk of credential exploitation if they ignore simple security measures like multifactor authentication coupled with strong password policies. Such cyberattacks happen when attackers use stolen or weak credentials to gain unauthorized access to systems and data.

Also Read: Modern Cloud vs. Mature Cloud: Are You Wasting Money?

One of the most common ways to steal credentials is credential stuffing. In this case, attackers use automated tools to input stolen username-password pairs into multiple websites. This is effective because many users reuse their passwords across various platforms.

MFA Bypassing

Multifactor authentication is one of the fundamental security measures, yet it’s not completely foolproof. The attackers exploit the human element of targeted users by employing social engineering tactics like MFA fatigue, where users are bombarded with repeated MFA requests until they approve one out of frustration or mistake. Microsoft’s Digital Defense Report revealed approximately 6,000 daily MFA fatigue attempts in 2023.

MFA bypassing doesn’t mean you should disregard MFA as a security measure. It just means you must put more effort into adopting phishing-resistant MFA technology.

External Attack Surface Expansion

SaaS services enhance the risk of cyberattacks due to the larger external attack surface area, which involves vulnerable subdomains, APIs, and ports. If not properly monitored and controlled, this may result in subdomain takeovers and other attacks. The threat becomes even more critical when companies stop using some SaaS solutions but fail to delete their accounts and related files. Abandoned subdomains or unused APIs, especially those in shadow IT, provide a soft target for hackers.

To minimize these risks, organizations can use external attack surface management tools, which mimic attacks from external sources and differentiate between threats and vulnerabilities.

SaaS Security Best Practices in 2024

Multiple SaaS security reports show that cyberattacks are becoming increasingly advanced. Yet security experts aren’t lagging, offering various practices that can help you protect your organization from SaaS security threats.

Data Encryption

Encryption should be your top priority since it prevents data from being stored in plain text. In fact, under international data protection protocols, such as GDPR and D-DPA, SaaS organizations must ensure the highest level of encryption.

You don’t have to worry about data encryption preventing user data analysis. With data scrambling and data substitution, you can still protect user data while learning more about your customers.

Also Read: Should You Apply Multiple Cybersecurity Frameworks at Once?

Multifactor Authentication and OAuth 2.0

This step seems obvious, yet 13% of organizations did not implement MFA for any users in 2023. Therefore, let us highlight again that MFA is a non-negotiable standard that can protect your organization from internal vulnerabilities and significantly reduce the risk of unauthorized access.

Another good practice is adopting OAuth 2.0, a protocol that allows users to permit third-party applications to use their data without sharing their passwords.

Account Access Protection and IAM Policies

Strict access control is also a staple of cybersecurity. The most basic rule is to ensure your organization uses “deny by default” access controls. It’s recommended to regularly review and update access permissions, granting them only for limited periods. Also, for potential breach detection, dynamic access controls should be considered to adjust user rights based on context, such as location, device status, and user behavior.

To strengthen access protection even more, there are Identity and Access Management (IAM) policies, which monitor and log all access attempts throughout your systems. With IAM, your organization can spot hackers at the beginning of the attack and eliminate them effectively.

Reliable Authentication Cloud Providers

Balancing security and efficiency is a challenge in modern cyberspace. That is why many organizations keep their sensitive data on private clouds and use public clouds for other information. As a result, they attain an ideal balance between operational agility and strong security.

At the same time, choosing cloud providers for SaaS applications that offer protection from DDoS attacks is essential, as DDoS attacks are a serious threat to SaaS security. The leading providers, such as AWS, Azure, and GCP, have advanced DDoS protection services (AWS Shield, Azure DDoS Protection, and Google Cloud Armor).

Also Read: Enhancing Security Operations with AI-driven SOC Insights

Real-Time Protection and Data Back-Ups

There are three “musts” of real-time monitoring that will help you detect malicious attacks on time: firewalls, intrusion detection systems (IDS), and intrusion prevention systems (IPS). And since it’s hard to eliminate the risks of data breaches, be sure to embrace the “better safe than sorry” approach. Prepare for possible threats and adopt DLP (Data Loss Protection) practices, such as backing up your data in several locations, monitoring outgoing permissions, etc.

Conclusion

As cybercriminals become more inventive, none of the abovementioned security measures are 100% foolproof. Yet, if you prioritize security and combine these techniques, they will create a nearly impenetrable protective wall around your SaaS and your customers’ data.

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