Blog
July 15, 2024

SaaS Security: Risks, Challenges & How to Prevent Them

SaaS apps are booming, but data leaks are a risk! Learn common SaaS security threats and how to protect your business. Discover best practices like access controls, encryption & employee training.

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Key Points:

  • SaaS applications usage increased by 18% in 2023, with an average of 130 apps per business, but data security risks in SaaS apps are a growing concern.
  • Common SaaS security risks and issues include misconfigurations, poor access control, shadow IT, insider threats, and compliance challenges.
  • Mitigating SaaS security risks involves implementing strict access controls, using encryption, conducting regular audits, and leveraging data security tools like Metomic.

Software as a Service (SaaS) applications have exploded in popularity over the last few years, with net usage up 18% in 2023 on the previous year, and 130 apps used on average per business.

But with employees using them daily, the risk of sensitive data being leaked from SaaS apps can be heightened, so taking precautions to protect your data is crucial.

How are companies using SaaS apps?

SaaS has become increasingly popular with teams who are looking to enhance their productivity, and make operations much more efficient. While they offer a collaborative environment for employees to foster new ideas, SaaS software must be secured to ensure that sensitive data stored within the platforms is protected.

There are SaaS applications created for many different uses, across plenty of different industries.

Some examples of SaaS software include:

  1. Project management: Tools such as Trello are perfect for aligning workflows, and understanding responsibilities, and requirements.
  2. Customer Relationship Management (CRM): Platforms such as Salesforce are used by entire organisations to track leads, monitor customer interactions, and enhance customer insights.
  3. Communication: Tools such as Slack and Microsoft Teams are essential for companies all over the world, helping colleagues keep in contact and share ideas.
  4. Customer service: Apps like Zendesk are particularly useful for organisations who need to keep track of customer enquiries and help to solve issues quickly and efficiently.
  5. Note storing: Apps such as Notion can be used by teams to share thoughts and ideas, plans, as well as project management outlines.
  6. AI: SaaS tools such as ChatGPT are emerging as new forces that are revolutionising the way companies work.

As you can see, there are plenty of diverse ways in which companies can use SaaS software to increase productivity, and uplift business performance. The ease at which individuals can use SaaS applications means setup is usually very simple, and there’s no major software updates or infrastructure to manage.

Why is it so important that data in SaaS is protected?

Data stored in your SaaS products can be compromised if it’s not protected properly, so it’s vital that you take measures to ensure it can’t be leaked or breached. Cybercriminals can see SaaS apps as attractive targets due to the data stored within, and the reputational, legal, and financial implications of a data breach or leak can leave lasting effects.

If your data is compromised via a SaaS app, you may be putting yourself at a competitive disadvantage, as customers are more likely to choose a company that demonstrates robust data protection measures, ensuring the security and privacy of their sensitive information.

The disruption in operations due to a data breach can also be highly problematic, for a business. For instance, if you’re a healthcare organisation and you should have been complying with HIPAA, an investigation may halt businesses, leading to a loss in revenue, as well as customer dissatisfaction.

Finally, intellectual property theft may occur, jeopardising your future plans and leaking any trade secrets you were storing. This can be hugely detrimental to your business’ future success.

How bad can a Slack breach get? Download our whitepaper to find out.

What are the some of most common security risks that companies face when using SaaS?

While SaaS can come in handy for any business, there are security risks posed by the use of such applications.

Here are the nine of the most common issues:

1. Misconfiguration

One wrong step during the configuration process, and companies leave themselves vulnerable to sensitive data being exposed. For example, not enabling multi-factor authentication could make it easier for bad actors to access your systems with only one layer of protection to get through.

2. Poor access control management

Without the correct access controls in place, your sensitive documents could be shared with external parties, as well as being publicly accessible to anyone on the web. Whether you operate a zero-trust strategy or prefer to keep your most sensitive documents locked down, paying close attention to your access controls is vital.

3. Shadow IT

While security teams are focused on monitoring the SaaS apps they’re aware of, employees may be using apps completely under the radar.

Source: https://www.businesswire.com/

4. Insider threats

Insider threats may not necessarily be coming from a malicious angle, but those who have access to sensitive documents can pose a risk to your business. Whether it’s intentional or not, insider threats from employees or contractors can make you more susceptible to data leaks.

5. Storage

SaaS applications often store your data on their own servers, giving you limited control over what happens to it. With this type of storage, you’re effectively putting your data in someone else’s hands, so you must ensure that their security strategy is comprehensive enough to avoid data leaks and breaches.

6. Compliance

If you need to comply with regulations such as GDPR and HIPAA, you’ll need to ensure your SaaS software provider can offer this level of compliance too. Without due diligence, you may miss this requirement, and put your business at risk. If the data you store is mishandled by your SaaS provider, this can put you in breach of regulations, causing serious financial and legal repercussions.

7. Supply chain management

Similarly, ensuring your supply chain has strict security measures in place is vital. Check your suppliers are SOC 2 certified, and meet quality standards such as ISO requirements. Recent data breaches involving supply chain mismanagement such as the Manchester police data breach, have wreaked havoc on organisations from a financial and reputational perspective.

8. Data portability

If you choose to switch your SaaS provider, you may face issues around data portability and ownership. You’ll need to ensure that any data stored in your SaaS applications still belongs to you, so there’s no chance that you’ll lose data if you want to terminate your contract with your provider.

9. Customer privacy

Your customers’ privacy is paramount, and they should be your priority when choosing SaaS apps to work with, as well as the ease and usability of the apps themselves. Ensure that data is only retained for a set period of time to be in line with data regulations such as GDPR, and encryption is in place to give data an extra layer of protection.

How can companies mitigate security risks and issues?

Luckily, it’s not all doom and gloom, as there are ways you can minimise your data risks. When it comes to SaaS security best practices, you should ensure that you:

1. Implement strict access controls

Put stringent access controls in place, including multi-factor authentication, to ensure your most sensitive data is only accessed by authorised individuals. You should also review your sensitive files and revoke access for those who no longer need permissions to view that data.

2. Research your SaaS providers

Before choosing a SaaS provider to work with, be sure to read reviews and find out whether other customers are happy with the service they’ve had. You should also check their security credentials to ensure your data will be protected.

3. Use encryption methods

Encrypting your data will add another layer of protection to sensitive information, safeguarding it at rest and in transit to make it undecipherable for any unauthorised users

4. Carry out regular risk audits

Regular risk audits can help you expose any gaps or misconfigurations in your security posture when it comes to your SaaS apps. They can also be beneficial for identifying where your highest risks lie so you can address them immediately.

5. Encourage employee education & awareness

Annual training sessions with employees are no longer fruitful for creating a security-aware workforce. Instead, give employees the guidance they need to understand who they can ask questions to, and where they must go if they have any security concerns. Continuous education and training in the context of their role can be helpful - for instance, Metomic sends real-time notifications when employees commit violations.

6. Use a DSPM tool

A data security posture management tool like Metomic can be beneficial for protecting sensitive information in SaaS applications such as Slack, Jira, and ChatGPT, on autopilot.

Rather than manually sifting through information to find sensitive data points, Metomic can take the guesswork out of data security.

How can Metomic help?

Metomic can automate your data security processes, to protect data within your SaaS ecosystem. Helping you recognise where your biggest risks lie, Metomic triages your risks so you can address your major issues first.

Book a personalised demo with one of our SaaS Security Specialists to uncover and protect your most critical risks in your SaaS apps.

Key Points:

  • SaaS applications usage increased by 18% in 2023, with an average of 130 apps per business, but data security risks in SaaS apps are a growing concern.
  • Common SaaS security risks and issues include misconfigurations, poor access control, shadow IT, insider threats, and compliance challenges.
  • Mitigating SaaS security risks involves implementing strict access controls, using encryption, conducting regular audits, and leveraging data security tools like Metomic.

Software as a Service (SaaS) applications have exploded in popularity over the last few years, with net usage up 18% in 2023 on the previous year, and 130 apps used on average per business.

But with employees using them daily, the risk of sensitive data being leaked from SaaS apps can be heightened, so taking precautions to protect your data is crucial.

How are companies using SaaS apps?

SaaS has become increasingly popular with teams who are looking to enhance their productivity, and make operations much more efficient. While they offer a collaborative environment for employees to foster new ideas, SaaS software must be secured to ensure that sensitive data stored within the platforms is protected.

There are SaaS applications created for many different uses, across plenty of different industries.

Some examples of SaaS software include:

  1. Project management: Tools such as Trello are perfect for aligning workflows, and understanding responsibilities, and requirements.
  2. Customer Relationship Management (CRM): Platforms such as Salesforce are used by entire organisations to track leads, monitor customer interactions, and enhance customer insights.
  3. Communication: Tools such as Slack and Microsoft Teams are essential for companies all over the world, helping colleagues keep in contact and share ideas.
  4. Customer service: Apps like Zendesk are particularly useful for organisations who need to keep track of customer enquiries and help to solve issues quickly and efficiently.
  5. Note storing: Apps such as Notion can be used by teams to share thoughts and ideas, plans, as well as project management outlines.
  6. AI: SaaS tools such as ChatGPT are emerging as new forces that are revolutionising the way companies work.

As you can see, there are plenty of diverse ways in which companies can use SaaS software to increase productivity, and uplift business performance. The ease at which individuals can use SaaS applications means setup is usually very simple, and there’s no major software updates or infrastructure to manage.

Why is it so important that data in SaaS is protected?

Data stored in your SaaS products can be compromised if it’s not protected properly, so it’s vital that you take measures to ensure it can’t be leaked or breached. Cybercriminals can see SaaS apps as attractive targets due to the data stored within, and the reputational, legal, and financial implications of a data breach or leak can leave lasting effects.

If your data is compromised via a SaaS app, you may be putting yourself at a competitive disadvantage, as customers are more likely to choose a company that demonstrates robust data protection measures, ensuring the security and privacy of their sensitive information.

The disruption in operations due to a data breach can also be highly problematic, for a business. For instance, if you’re a healthcare organisation and you should have been complying with HIPAA, an investigation may halt businesses, leading to a loss in revenue, as well as customer dissatisfaction.

Finally, intellectual property theft may occur, jeopardising your future plans and leaking any trade secrets you were storing. This can be hugely detrimental to your business’ future success.

How bad can a Slack breach get? Download our whitepaper to find out.

What are the some of most common security risks that companies face when using SaaS?

While SaaS can come in handy for any business, there are security risks posed by the use of such applications.

Here are the nine of the most common issues:

1. Misconfiguration

One wrong step during the configuration process, and companies leave themselves vulnerable to sensitive data being exposed. For example, not enabling multi-factor authentication could make it easier for bad actors to access your systems with only one layer of protection to get through.

2. Poor access control management

Without the correct access controls in place, your sensitive documents could be shared with external parties, as well as being publicly accessible to anyone on the web. Whether you operate a zero-trust strategy or prefer to keep your most sensitive documents locked down, paying close attention to your access controls is vital.

3. Shadow IT

While security teams are focused on monitoring the SaaS apps they’re aware of, employees may be using apps completely under the radar.

Source: https://www.businesswire.com/

4. Insider threats

Insider threats may not necessarily be coming from a malicious angle, but those who have access to sensitive documents can pose a risk to your business. Whether it’s intentional or not, insider threats from employees or contractors can make you more susceptible to data leaks.

5. Storage

SaaS applications often store your data on their own servers, giving you limited control over what happens to it. With this type of storage, you’re effectively putting your data in someone else’s hands, so you must ensure that their security strategy is comprehensive enough to avoid data leaks and breaches.

6. Compliance

If you need to comply with regulations such as GDPR and HIPAA, you’ll need to ensure your SaaS software provider can offer this level of compliance too. Without due diligence, you may miss this requirement, and put your business at risk. If the data you store is mishandled by your SaaS provider, this can put you in breach of regulations, causing serious financial and legal repercussions.

7. Supply chain management

Similarly, ensuring your supply chain has strict security measures in place is vital. Check your suppliers are SOC 2 certified, and meet quality standards such as ISO requirements. Recent data breaches involving supply chain mismanagement such as the Manchester police data breach, have wreaked havoc on organisations from a financial and reputational perspective.

8. Data portability

If you choose to switch your SaaS provider, you may face issues around data portability and ownership. You’ll need to ensure that any data stored in your SaaS applications still belongs to you, so there’s no chance that you’ll lose data if you want to terminate your contract with your provider.

9. Customer privacy

Your customers’ privacy is paramount, and they should be your priority when choosing SaaS apps to work with, as well as the ease and usability of the apps themselves. Ensure that data is only retained for a set period of time to be in line with data regulations such as GDPR, and encryption is in place to give data an extra layer of protection.

How can companies mitigate security risks and issues?

Luckily, it’s not all doom and gloom, as there are ways you can minimise your data risks. When it comes to SaaS security best practices, you should ensure that you:

1. Implement strict access controls

Put stringent access controls in place, including multi-factor authentication, to ensure your most sensitive data is only accessed by authorised individuals. You should also review your sensitive files and revoke access for those who no longer need permissions to view that data.

2. Research your SaaS providers

Before choosing a SaaS provider to work with, be sure to read reviews and find out whether other customers are happy with the service they’ve had. You should also check their security credentials to ensure your data will be protected.

3. Use encryption methods

Encrypting your data will add another layer of protection to sensitive information, safeguarding it at rest and in transit to make it undecipherable for any unauthorised users

4. Carry out regular risk audits

Regular risk audits can help you expose any gaps or misconfigurations in your security posture when it comes to your SaaS apps. They can also be beneficial for identifying where your highest risks lie so you can address them immediately.

5. Encourage employee education & awareness

Annual training sessions with employees are no longer fruitful for creating a security-aware workforce. Instead, give employees the guidance they need to understand who they can ask questions to, and where they must go if they have any security concerns. Continuous education and training in the context of their role can be helpful - for instance, Metomic sends real-time notifications when employees commit violations.

6. Use a DSPM tool

A data security posture management tool like Metomic can be beneficial for protecting sensitive information in SaaS applications such as Slack, Jira, and ChatGPT, on autopilot.

Rather than manually sifting through information to find sensitive data points, Metomic can take the guesswork out of data security.

How can Metomic help?

Metomic can automate your data security processes, to protect data within your SaaS ecosystem. Helping you recognise where your biggest risks lie, Metomic triages your risks so you can address your major issues first.

Book a personalised demo with one of our SaaS Security Specialists to uncover and protect your most critical risks in your SaaS apps.

Key Points:

  • SaaS applications usage increased by 18% in 2023, with an average of 130 apps per business, but data security risks in SaaS apps are a growing concern.
  • Common SaaS security risks and issues include misconfigurations, poor access control, shadow IT, insider threats, and compliance challenges.
  • Mitigating SaaS security risks involves implementing strict access controls, using encryption, conducting regular audits, and leveraging data security tools like Metomic.

Software as a Service (SaaS) applications have exploded in popularity over the last few years, with net usage up 18% in 2023 on the previous year, and 130 apps used on average per business.

But with employees using them daily, the risk of sensitive data being leaked from SaaS apps can be heightened, so taking precautions to protect your data is crucial.

How are companies using SaaS apps?

SaaS has become increasingly popular with teams who are looking to enhance their productivity, and make operations much more efficient. While they offer a collaborative environment for employees to foster new ideas, SaaS software must be secured to ensure that sensitive data stored within the platforms is protected.

There are SaaS applications created for many different uses, across plenty of different industries.

Some examples of SaaS software include:

  1. Project management: Tools such as Trello are perfect for aligning workflows, and understanding responsibilities, and requirements.
  2. Customer Relationship Management (CRM): Platforms such as Salesforce are used by entire organisations to track leads, monitor customer interactions, and enhance customer insights.
  3. Communication: Tools such as Slack and Microsoft Teams are essential for companies all over the world, helping colleagues keep in contact and share ideas.
  4. Customer service: Apps like Zendesk are particularly useful for organisations who need to keep track of customer enquiries and help to solve issues quickly and efficiently.
  5. Note storing: Apps such as Notion can be used by teams to share thoughts and ideas, plans, as well as project management outlines.
  6. AI: SaaS tools such as ChatGPT are emerging as new forces that are revolutionising the way companies work.

As you can see, there are plenty of diverse ways in which companies can use SaaS software to increase productivity, and uplift business performance. The ease at which individuals can use SaaS applications means setup is usually very simple, and there’s no major software updates or infrastructure to manage.

Why is it so important that data in SaaS is protected?

Data stored in your SaaS products can be compromised if it’s not protected properly, so it’s vital that you take measures to ensure it can’t be leaked or breached. Cybercriminals can see SaaS apps as attractive targets due to the data stored within, and the reputational, legal, and financial implications of a data breach or leak can leave lasting effects.

If your data is compromised via a SaaS app, you may be putting yourself at a competitive disadvantage, as customers are more likely to choose a company that demonstrates robust data protection measures, ensuring the security and privacy of their sensitive information.

The disruption in operations due to a data breach can also be highly problematic, for a business. For instance, if you’re a healthcare organisation and you should have been complying with HIPAA, an investigation may halt businesses, leading to a loss in revenue, as well as customer dissatisfaction.

Finally, intellectual property theft may occur, jeopardising your future plans and leaking any trade secrets you were storing. This can be hugely detrimental to your business’ future success.

How bad can a Slack breach get? Download our whitepaper to find out.

What are the some of most common security risks that companies face when using SaaS?

While SaaS can come in handy for any business, there are security risks posed by the use of such applications.

Here are the nine of the most common issues:

1. Misconfiguration

One wrong step during the configuration process, and companies leave themselves vulnerable to sensitive data being exposed. For example, not enabling multi-factor authentication could make it easier for bad actors to access your systems with only one layer of protection to get through.

2. Poor access control management

Without the correct access controls in place, your sensitive documents could be shared with external parties, as well as being publicly accessible to anyone on the web. Whether you operate a zero-trust strategy or prefer to keep your most sensitive documents locked down, paying close attention to your access controls is vital.

3. Shadow IT

While security teams are focused on monitoring the SaaS apps they’re aware of, employees may be using apps completely under the radar.

Source: https://www.businesswire.com/

4. Insider threats

Insider threats may not necessarily be coming from a malicious angle, but those who have access to sensitive documents can pose a risk to your business. Whether it’s intentional or not, insider threats from employees or contractors can make you more susceptible to data leaks.

5. Storage

SaaS applications often store your data on their own servers, giving you limited control over what happens to it. With this type of storage, you’re effectively putting your data in someone else’s hands, so you must ensure that their security strategy is comprehensive enough to avoid data leaks and breaches.

6. Compliance

If you need to comply with regulations such as GDPR and HIPAA, you’ll need to ensure your SaaS software provider can offer this level of compliance too. Without due diligence, you may miss this requirement, and put your business at risk. If the data you store is mishandled by your SaaS provider, this can put you in breach of regulations, causing serious financial and legal repercussions.

7. Supply chain management

Similarly, ensuring your supply chain has strict security measures in place is vital. Check your suppliers are SOC 2 certified, and meet quality standards such as ISO requirements. Recent data breaches involving supply chain mismanagement such as the Manchester police data breach, have wreaked havoc on organisations from a financial and reputational perspective.

8. Data portability

If you choose to switch your SaaS provider, you may face issues around data portability and ownership. You’ll need to ensure that any data stored in your SaaS applications still belongs to you, so there’s no chance that you’ll lose data if you want to terminate your contract with your provider.

9. Customer privacy

Your customers’ privacy is paramount, and they should be your priority when choosing SaaS apps to work with, as well as the ease and usability of the apps themselves. Ensure that data is only retained for a set period of time to be in line with data regulations such as GDPR, and encryption is in place to give data an extra layer of protection.

How can companies mitigate security risks and issues?

Luckily, it’s not all doom and gloom, as there are ways you can minimise your data risks. When it comes to SaaS security best practices, you should ensure that you:

1. Implement strict access controls

Put stringent access controls in place, including multi-factor authentication, to ensure your most sensitive data is only accessed by authorised individuals. You should also review your sensitive files and revoke access for those who no longer need permissions to view that data.

2. Research your SaaS providers

Before choosing a SaaS provider to work with, be sure to read reviews and find out whether other customers are happy with the service they’ve had. You should also check their security credentials to ensure your data will be protected.

3. Use encryption methods

Encrypting your data will add another layer of protection to sensitive information, safeguarding it at rest and in transit to make it undecipherable for any unauthorised users

4. Carry out regular risk audits

Regular risk audits can help you expose any gaps or misconfigurations in your security posture when it comes to your SaaS apps. They can also be beneficial for identifying where your highest risks lie so you can address them immediately.

5. Encourage employee education & awareness

Annual training sessions with employees are no longer fruitful for creating a security-aware workforce. Instead, give employees the guidance they need to understand who they can ask questions to, and where they must go if they have any security concerns. Continuous education and training in the context of their role can be helpful - for instance, Metomic sends real-time notifications when employees commit violations.

6. Use a DSPM tool

A data security posture management tool like Metomic can be beneficial for protecting sensitive information in SaaS applications such as Slack, Jira, and ChatGPT, on autopilot.

Rather than manually sifting through information to find sensitive data points, Metomic can take the guesswork out of data security.

How can Metomic help?

Metomic can automate your data security processes, to protect data within your SaaS ecosystem. Helping you recognise where your biggest risks lie, Metomic triages your risks so you can address your major issues first.

Book a personalised demo with one of our SaaS Security Specialists to uncover and protect your most critical risks in your SaaS apps.