Let’s face it; the modern business community is slowly ditching the traditional on-premise software and its associated infrastructure and embracing cloud-based network solutions. Think about it; Adobe, Mailchimp, Slack, and even Google are all notable examples of these cloud-based solutions, hereby referred to as Software-as-a-service.
Software-as-a-service (SaaS) offerings are rapidly taking root as organizations realize its benefit in reducing the operational overhead, CapEx and decreasing deployment time. These are noble factors that lead to increased business agility, but is it all smooth and straightforward as it sounds? Probably not; the increased efficiency that comes with SaaS adoption comes with its fair share of challenges, especially on matters security.
In the heat of the moment and eager to keep the business running, most business owners rush to procure new SaaS applications without due diligence or guidance from experienced security or IT teams. Concerns around security have always hampered the adoption of cloud computing and its related applications. However, you can comfortably cushion your business with the right knowledge on how to deal with some of the most common security threats to your SaaS offering. The following are four common security threats facing SaaS applications.
Phishing still rules
Phishing may be an old con-game, but it keeps mutating with each technological advancement. In fact, phishing remains one of the greatest threats to cloud-based applications, with well over 90% of cyberattacks coming from phishing emails. Such emails may come in the form of malicious URLs or attachments with the intention of harvesting personal credentials through fake login pages. Modern phishing approaches are, however, more targeted and will take a keen eye to avert and ignore such emails quickly.
As organizations adopt SaaS, email solutions like G Suite or Office 365 phishing attackers are also evolving to target such cloud-based applications. A case in point is the infamous mass phishing attack on Google’s Gmail in 2017. The attack managed to exploit Google’s OAuth protocol and millions of Gmail accounts were affected.
Data theft still thrives on the cloud
Adopting a cloud-based application means that you are trusting an external data center to take care of your data. Here, your organization’s IT department has little control over what happens to the data, even as it remains responsible for data security. Usually, this may be sensitive customer data like financial information, Intellectual Property (IP), or Personally Identifiable Information (PII). Here, cybercriminals would initiate a targeted attack by taking advantage of some security loopholes to exfiltrate the data.
Zero-day threats and New Malware
Most file sharing and file storage SaaS applications like OneDrive and Dropbox have recently become major targets for propagators of zero-day malware and ransomware. Since most of these attacks can happen even without the awareness of the user, it becomes a challenge to identify and evert the same in real time. These propagators take advantage of the fact that SaaS applications would automatically sync across all devices. All an attacker has to do is upload a malicious Office file or PDF to the storage or file sharing SaaS app, and syncing would take up from there.
In-house Security Threats
No matter how much you try, one of the weakest links to your security as a SaaS business owner is your in-house team. Insider security threats come in two basic forms; user negligence and malicious intent. User negligence may come in the form of using weak passwords, stolen devices and shared credentials. On the other hand, malicious intent may come through your staff or administrators of CSPs abusing their authorized access by exfiltrating sensitive information.
So what should SaaS businesses do to improve their Cybersecurity?
At a bare minimum, businesses operating on the SaaS framework are expected to work in sync with the established security guidelines such as ISO 270001. Besides, there are other independent bodies and projects like the Open Web Application Security Project (OWASP) that offers guidelines on how to mitigate some of the common security risks in the SaaS business realm. These guidelines may not wholly cushion you from cyber attacks but go a long way in offering acceptable security standards for both internal and customer-facing threats.
There is also the need for SaaS businesses to engage the right staff with enough experience in defining, adopting, and implementing sound information security guidelines and policies. By ensuring that you have someone singularly accountable for Cybersecurity in your business, it becomes much easier to track the root cause and avert any impending attack.
Getting the right in-house security team is not enough. They should be able to work hand in hand with customer-facing teams. With this, the business can easily brainstorm and come up with robust information security guidelines. This will reduce cases of the user causing security breaches through the platform. In addition to this, a SaaS business should be in a position to provide details regarding their cybersecurity processes for both potential and current users. This will be an assurance to the users that their data is safe in your cloud space.
In the wake of a cybercrime and AI warfare, small and medium businesses (SMBs) are the most vulnerable considering their limited resources. However, it would also be reasonable to note that larger enterprises also have a lot more to lose in case of a cyber attack. As such, the efforts that ought to go towards combating cyber attack in the SaaS industry goes beyond business or company size. Notably, traditional security measures may not be enough. As it stands, the adoption of Advanced Threat Protection (ATP) has never been more apparent. This helps offer real-time protection and monitoring of your cloud network. Other notable measures like sandboxing also come in handy to help customize your defense.