Step Away From The Unauthorised SaaS Apps!

Responding to human risk
CultureAI Team
October 3, 2022
Security Engineers

Contributed by:

⚡ TL;DR ⚡


Applications delivered online via a subscription rather than bought and installed on individual computers are referred to as software as a service or, more commonly known, SaaS. You can avoid the complexity of managing hardware and software by just accessing it online rather than installing and maintaining it.

SaaS applications are also web-based, on-demand, or hosted software. Regardless of the terminology, SaaS apps are hosted on the servers of a SaaS provider. The provider manages the security, accessibility, and performance of application access.

SaaS has changed and is still revolutionising the way we operate. SaaS is now essential to a flexible and effective workplace by supplying employees with the most recent technology in businesses of all sizes and across all company areas. Additionally, it is simple for any employee to create a new account with these SaaS providers and download the software.

In fact, it's really simple for employees to quickly go past initial permissions that grant access to user data and information and then sign in on the user's behalf within additional cloud apps. Most individuals instantly and without hesitation click the "agree" button to most terms and conditions, whether it is a trusted and known platform or not.

These rogue installations are also known as "Shadow IT," roughly defined as the usage of technological solutions inside a company that has not been authorised by the IT department or acquired by IT standards. As of 2022, the SaaS market is valued at approximately $186.6 billion, with an annual growth rate of 18%.

Additionally, the cloud facilitates employee SaaS application acquisition and deployment without contacting the IT department. Because of this, many applications are utilised by staff members of corporations as well as other parties (such as contractors or business partners) without the involvement or consent of the corporate IT department.

According to Pat Calhoun, general manager of network security at McAfee, businesses must protect themselves while still allowing access to applications that increase employee productivity. Over 80% of employees admit to using unapproved SaaS in their jobs.

The best course of action is to implement systems that transparently monitor SaaS applications and other online traffic and consistently apply enterprise policies without impeding workers' ability to perform their tasks more effectively. These allow for secure access to SaaS services and encrypt private data, guard against viruses, prevent data loss, and help IT enforce appropriate usage guidelines.

SaaS functionality and business innovation have taken precedence over security, a direction that SaaS companies are now forced to change. Companies must create policies that balance flexibility and control in the SaaS application adoption, which is still expanding.


Create a SaaS policy that is consistent with your company's goals

We want to ensure a seamless integration that leaves no doubts for your employees. To begin with, make sure you gather information on any policy you already have in place across all departments.

Next, you want to compile your best practices by looking at general areas such as functionality, security, integration, and recovery to ensure that all areas are covered.

When you draft the document, remember to avoid jargon that might not translate across departments. You will also need to keep it as short as possible to help increase engagement and understanding from staff members.

Finally, get buy-in from senior leaders in the company, so they know the importance of why a SaaS policy is best for business and helps to avoid further issues down the line.

Utilise items that provide reliable authentication

Different options for authentication are available from cloud providers. Some enable you to integrate with a provider of customer-managed identity (i.e., OpenID Connect, Open Authorization, etc.). Multi-factor authentication (MFA) is supported by some products, adding an extra degree of protection. But not every service offers the same features.

You must be aware of the options your cloud provider offers. Depending on the requirements of your firm, you can then choose the best authentication strategy. Select a SaaS provider that supports Active Directory Single Sign-On (AD SSO) wherever possible to ensure that account and password policies are compatible with your SaaS applications.

Keep track of how the app is used to eliminate duplicate illegal SaaS accounts and functionality. To standardise SaaS solutions with corporate-approved features, work with business functions.

Examine the Provider

Before implementing their products, review and assess SaaS providers, and make sure you comprehend their approach to security and any additional services they may provide.

Although most users have confidence in their service providers to handle security, McAfee research shows that only 18% of SaaS providers enable MFA, and only 10% encrypt data while it is in transit.

Look over each SaaS provider's audits to ensure they conform to data privacy and security laws and satisfy your organisation's needs for data encryption, data segregation, and cyber security.

Maintain a usage inventory

Identify and monitor SaaS application usage regularly, keeping an eye out for unusual or questionable usage. SaaS allows for the quick deployment of apps. Therefore, monitoring usage through automated means is crucial.

Apply a CASB

Sometimes SaaS suppliers are unable to deliver the level of protection you need. You can employ a Cloud Access Security Broker (CASB) solution to implement security controls that SaaS providers do not naturally give.

The security model of the provider can be complemented using CASB tools. Ensure you select the proper deployment configuration (e.g., API or proxy-based) for your organisation's architecture when utilising a CASB tool.

Continue to be seen

Track all SaaS usage, evaluate service providers' security logs and analyse information from security tools like CASBs.

Make sure your security and IT teams know that SaaS solutions, like any enterprise application, are vital tools needing a high level of protection.

Combine monitoring with a risk management strategy to guarantee that users address risks.

Build awareness around app security

Regularly train employees on the importance of understanding app permissions and following your established data governance and security policies.

Increase public understanding of app security. Inform staff members regularly of the value of comprehending app permissions and adhering to your company's SaaS policy.

SaaS Security Posture Management (SSPM)

SSPM provides a unified level of transparency across an entire cloud environment. It avoids checking multiple discrete endpoints from a range of vendors. This process reduces misconfigurations while increasing time-to-market delivery. SSPM regulates and automates SaaS data security.

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