Predictions are that 85% of all software usage by businesses will be through SaaS by 2025. With the cloud gaining more and more efficacy every day – Azure alone has 200 data centers around the globe – the agility and cost-effectiveness offered by SaaS are unbeatable. An organization uses more than 80 SaaS apps on average to enhance functionality.
It falls both on the SaaS providers and the users to create and maintain a secure environment. In this post, we will discuss SaaS security, the best practices, and the SaaS security certifications that make a SaaS app trustworthy.
Major SaaS security certifications at a glance
|Security Certification||Who Needs It|
|SOC 2||SaaS providers, cloud service providers, any organization that stores customer data in the cloud|
|ISO 27001||Organizations built around information security and data privacy|
|PCI-DSS||Any organization that stores payment card information|
|HIPAA||Health care organizations that conduct electronic transactions - financial or administrative|
|GDPR||Any person or organization that collect and processes personal information in the European Union|
Scores of SaaS applications integrated with one another coupled with plugins and connected with hundreds of user-profiles creating personalized experiences, all come together to help a business move like a well-oiled machine. There is one cog in the wheel that demands constant attention – security.
A small security breach at the SaaS provider’s end can have a massive impact on the businesses it serves. Both the service provider and the customer are familiar with the significance of SaaS security. SaaS security certifications play a crucial role in building the trust that allows a business to willingly hand its data over to a SaaS provider.
SaaS Security – an overview
Once you take a close look at the various joints and rivets keeping the SaaS infrastructure together, it is not difficult to identify the points where security issues might germinate.
An independent software vendor (ISV) enters a contract with a cloud provider to host its applications. The SaaS customer can access the application through a web browser. The customer has access to a single instance of the application on a multi-tenant basis.
That means the application source code is the same for all users and every new update that roles out are accessible to all the customers based on their service level agreement (SLA), however, the data provided by each user is segregated.
SaaS security refers to the set of rules and policies that are placed to protect the privacy of user data that lies with the SaaS provider. Things that SaaS security takes into account include data encryptions, security configurations, regular vulnerability assessments, and compliance.
What are SaaS security certifications?
SaaS providers are trusted with a large amount of sensitive information by their clients. A SaaS application might be handling the personal information of customers, credit card details, social security numbers, and whatnot. The SaaS provider is responsible for protecting this information from malicious actors and is also duty bound to guard the privacy of its clients.
SaaS certifications are documents that attest to the fact that a SaaS provider is compliant with the security regulations standardized by a general authoritative organization or a committee specific to a certain industry.
For instance, a SOC2 certification is specific to service organizations, a HIPAA certification is specific to organizations that deal with data related to health insurance. ISO 27001 has a relatively wider application. We will learn more about each of these certifications later.
5 Reasons why SaaS security certifications are essential
By now, it is clear that SaaS security certifications are a big deal. Here are five reasons explaining the same
They instill trust
The first and foremost reason why you as a SaaS provider should care about the security certification is that it builds trust. When customers know that the organization they are trusting their data with is compliant with certain well-known and reliable standards, they feel more confident about it.
Standards ensure best practices
When an ISV earns a SaaS security certification, it means that its processes have been vetted by an external body and found to be up to the mark. The certification also implies that the company has undergone regular assessments to ensure that its practices are best-in-class.
They help you stay ahead of the curve
The SaaS industry is relatively new, and it is still evolving. By getting a certification, you not only demonstrate that you are serious about security but also that you are keeping up with the latest trends. Staying ahead of the curve is essential to staying relevant in any industry.
They are a competitive advantage
In the SaaS world, getting a certification can be a significant differentiator. Not all companies have them, and those that do often use them as a selling point. If you are looking for an edge over your competitors, getting certified is an excellent way to do it.
Some clients might require them
Certain clients, especially in regulated industries, might make a SaaS security certification a prerequisite for doing business with them. In such cases, not having a certification can mean missing out on some big opportunities.
Explore 5 major SaaS certifications
We have already taken a short glance at the 5 major SaaS security certifications, it’s time to take a deeper dive into their particulars.
SOC 2 Certification
SOC (Service Organization Control) is a set of standards that define how service providers should handle their client’s data.
There are two types of SOC reports – Type I and Type II. Type I report only covers the description of controls while the latter includes whether those controls have been effectively implemented and are operating as intended.
A SOC II report is generated by an independent auditor after examining the practices of a service organization. The auditor then issues a report that attests to the compliance of the organization with respect to security, availability, processing integrity, confidentiality, and privacy of its client data.
SOC II certification is useful for SaaS providers that want to demonstrate to their clients that they have the necessary controls in place to protect their data.
Getting a SOC 2 certification can take up to six months and can be quite expensive.
Read also: Top 8 SOC 2 Auditors Around the World
ISO 27001 Certification
The ISO 27001 standard is a set of best practices for information security management. It includes requirements for risk assessment, incident management, and disaster recovery.
To get certified, organizations must undergo an audit by an independent body to ensure that their practices meet the requirements of the standard.
The certification is useful for companies that want to show that they have a robust and well-documented management of SaaS security in place.
PCI-DSS (Payment Card Industry Data Security Standard) is a set of security standards for organizations that handle credit card information.
The certification is administered by the PCI Security Standards Council, an independent body.
To become certified, organizations must undergo an assessment by a Qualified Security Assessor (QSA). The QSA evaluates the organization’s compliance with the 12 requirements of the standard.
PCI-DSS certification is essential for SaaS providers that store payment information. It is a major indicator of reliability and ensures that a SaaS company has the necessary controls in place to protect credit card information.
HIPAA (Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act) is a set of standards for protecting sensitive health information.
To become certified, organizations must undergo an audit by an independent body to ensure that their practices meet the requirements of the standard.
HIPAA certification is useful for SaaS providers that handle sensitive health information. It is a major indicator of reliability and ensures that a SaaS company has the necessary controls in place to protect this type of data.
The General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) is a set of regulations that member states of the European Union must implement in order to protect the privacy of digital data.
GDPR certification is useful for SaaS providers that handle digital data from citizens of the European Union. It is a major indicator of compliance with the GDPR and ensures that a SaaS company follows the data privacy and protection guidelines.
There is also the UK GDPR which applies to companies operating out of the UK. This certification is issued by the United Kingdom Accreditation Service or UKAS.
Vulnerability Assessment and Penetration Testing as Parts of the Certification Process
Every SaaS security certification is preceded by a compliance audit. The applying company must be free of vulnerabilities in order to pass those audits. Before your app can be free of vulnerabilities, you need to detect those. That is where vulnerability assessment and pen-testing come into play.
By conducting regular vulnerability assessments you can maintain a strong security posture free of common vulnerabilities. With penetration testing, you can get rid of deep-seated security issues like business logic errors.
These processes play a vital role in your compliance readiness and you need the right pentest partner to maximize the benefits.
Astra’s Pentest helps you with security compliance
Astra’s Pentest suite comes with a pentest compliance feature which allows you to run compliance-specific scans to detect vulnerabilities that can be a hurdle in the path of your desired SaaS security certification.
You can look at all the vulnerabilities that may cause your failure at a compliance audit, get recommendations for fixing them, and assign them to developers from the same dashboard. It makes the process of getting SaaS security certifications way easier.
There are various SaaS security certifications that you can go for, each with its own benefits. The most important thing is to identify the certification that best suits your organization’s needs.
Once you have done that, you need to make sure that your company is free of vulnerabilities before applying for the certification. You can do this by conducting regular vulnerability assessments and penetration tests.
Astra’s Pentest suite can help you with that by providing compliance-specific scans that can help you identify the vulnerabilities that are holding you back.
How much time does it take to get a PCI-DSS certification?
It takes up to six months to complete the procedure of acquiring a PCI-DSS certification
Risk assessment and management is a central part of most compliance requirements, hence it is crucial to perform risk assessments as a part of your compliance readiness program preceding the SaaS security certification audit.
What is the cost of getting a SOC2 certification?
The cost of acquiring a SOC2 certification can range from $30,000 to $100,000 depending on the size of your company, your choice of compliance readiness partners, and security testing companies.