Software-as-a-Service (SaaS) is not just a cloud-software delivery model, but also a service that offers the flexibility of running IT and business operations over a managed platform.
There’s no doubt that opting for a SaaS platform gives organizations many benefits such as ease of use, integration & scalability options, and infrastructure cost-cutting. However, the most common pain point for most organizations while procuring a SaaS is the security of the platform.
Any cloud-based solution can bring security risks and not all SaaS vendors are transparent about the security of their platform.
In the era of cyberattacks and hacking attempts, SaaS applications are often the victims – mostly vulnerable or compromised due to malware or backdoors hacks.
During the vendor evaluation process, security leaders need to understand these security risks and ensure that all the risks and provisions are addressed by the SaaS offering.
Blindly trusting the security of SaaS can put an entire organizations’ customer data at risk.
How could you know for sure if your SaaS providers’ security is up to the mark and that it will keep your own and your customer data safe from data breaches?
Talking about risks, here are the four most important things you should check or ask your SaaS vendor before buying a SaaS stack:
- Availability and visibility
- Compliance considerations
- Threat prevention capabilities and
- Data security
1. Availability and visibility of the SaaS
Just like running a successful business needs insights on market trends and strategy, every SaaS provider needs the availability and visibility of their platform to be able to serve their customers with trust and reliability.
Availability of SaaS
This is one of the most important things organizations need to check during the SaaS procurement process. Any downtime of SaaS applications may harm business operations and can even cause revenue loss if the organization’s critical assets are running on a SaaS platform.
Availability assurances are often mentioned in SLAs by SaaS vendors. Also, it is always a good practice to do history checks or look for previous downtime occurrences of the desired SaaS solution.
Visibility of SaaS
Organizations using a SaaS often rely on its functionality, maintenance and support – ignoring the visibility of their data stored in the platform.
Practically, almost all single or multi-tenant SaaS applications run on external servers. Today’s organizations do not think of it as their duty to ensure the data stored on these servers are effectively protected. As a result of this, businesses fail to get the entire visibility of their applications and employees, they can only resolve and overcome security issues that are visible to them. This left them vulnerable to many external threats such as phishing attacks.
2. Compliance considerations in the SaaS
Most SaaS vendors say that their platform is compliant with most policies, laws and regulations by simply mentioning one-liners on their website or adding logos.
It is important to verify this if the SaaS vendor is speaking the truth. To do this, you should have a detailed look at the Policy and Terms and Services pages on their website.
In addition, depending on your location, there are industry-specific laws and regulations for data privacy and protection such a GDPR, PCI-DSS, HIPPA, CCPA and many more. Your SaaS vendor, if asked, should be able to provide you documentation about how did they meet the requirements to be compliant with these laws and regulations.
Transparency is the key to the security of your customer information. SaaS vendors should maintain this transparency by providing you more information on how they store and secure your customer data on their platform.
3. Threat prevention capabilities
Not a single SaaS platform is completely immune to cyber attacks. Therefore, it is important to check whether the SaaS platform has strong security controls implemented and can prevent emerging cyber threats.
Having a trusted hosting and multi-layer threat detection and prevention platform can solidify the defense of a SaaS.
In addition, do check if the SaaS vendor has implemented a firewall for protecting against real-time attacks and does periodic security audits and penetration testing for identifying and fixing potential security loopholes and vulnerabilities in the SaaS.
Also, check if the vendor patches vulnerabilities on time, and has authentication policies such as SSO, encryption and key management, and security monitoring is done regularly for the SaaS application.
You cannot afford to risk your sensitive customer data by storing it in an untrusted & improperly secured platform. Hence, choosing a good SaaS solution that has threat prevention capabilities can put your mind at ease.
4. Data Security
When it comes to data security and misconfigurations in cloud-based SaaS platforms, there have been many instances where SaaS vendors failed to implement it properly which resulted in application compromise and massive data breaches.
A recent example of a graphic-design platform named Canva, where it suffered a massive data breach that exposed its 137 million user accounts.
Any SaaS provider will promise you to keep your data secure in any circumstances but you should always ask them about the currently implemented data security posture of their application and cloud infrastructure. Ask them about their incident response plan in case of a data breach.
In addition, ask them about which backup solutions they use, where will be your customer data located – this is to know how the data security is implemented and ensure that your customer data is in safe hands.
One more important thing to check is whether they will resell your data to third-party for any marketing or advertising purpose, you know what to do here.
According to a recent study, employees use an average of 8 SaaS apps. Companies with 200+ employees use on average 120 SaaS applications. You need to make sure all these solutions are properly managed and the security of every single SaaS is well handled by the respective vendors.
Not doing due diligence could cost your company millions, and eventually puts you out of business. So, choose your SaaS vendor wisely. Take free trials and evaluate the vendor offering thoroughly then decide to buy after all the security criteria are met.