Top 3 Questions to Ask about SaaS Application Security – The New Stack

Jennifer Kuvlesky

Jennifer Kuvlesky is a customer-success focused product marketer and SaaS management expert at Snow Software. At Snow, he is focused on helping customers gain visibility of their SaaS application environment to optimize costs and reduce risk. Prior to joining Snow, Jennifer held product marketing, program management and product management roles at SolarWinds and IBM.

Most organizations run hundreds to thousands of SaaS applications simultaneously (many don’t know), creating blind spots in IT and leaving businesses vulnerable to cyberattacks. The increasingly pernicious cybersecurity threat landscape over the past few years has made SaaS application visibility, IT compliance and cybersecurity education mission critical.

A recent report found that 69% of IT leaders said their organization’s investment in SaaS applications has increased significantly in the past year, with new SaaS applications being added to their tech stacks every day, and visibility and control with each gradually diminishing. It is critical that IT leaders have visibility and access to the solutions their employees use to proactively identify anything that may pose a threat to the organization – which 76% of IT professionals recognize as unscrupulous application is a major security risk.

Having complete visibility into your tech stack can help reduce risk, reduce contract complexity, reduce costs from unused or overly licensed applications and mitigate SaaS sprawl. To achieve this, IT leaders must ask themselves three key questions to assess their SaaS application security state and make necessary changes or dangerous breaches.

Will Employees Access the Tools They Need to Be Successful in the Following?

Self-service features are more important than ever for employees working in a distributed workforce. This means having the ability to access the software and tools needed to do their jobs efficiently and effectively without an onsite IT department to assist.

Imagine the consumer experience of downloading apps from the App Store and simulate that user experience and self-service approach for work applications. Providing a similar experience for employees makes it easier for them to search for what they need and request a subscription that has been reviewed and approved by the IT department.

By offering employees a place to get their applications, you eliminate the risk of software redundancy in your environment and also make it easy to follow the IT method of accessing new applications, while also ensuring that SaaS applications are granted minimum access privileges in mind.

Because many SaaS applications are widely used by many organizations and contain so many features, it is important to understand the concepts of less privileged access. Often, teams outside of security provide access to SaaS applications and don’t really think about these controls.

For example, AppOmni found that 70% of the ServiceNow accounts they tested had incorrect configurations leading to data leakage in these accounts. Incorrect configurations resulted from a combination of customer -managed configurations and excessive granting of permissions to guest users.

How Many SaaS Applications Do Employees Use That Are Not Authorized by the IT Department?

Eighty -six percent of IT leaders said most businesses are embracing more cloud and SaaS than IT knows, and this is a unique stressor. The reason for this is the presence and access to unknown applications, which creates many risks.

Unsanctioned use of SaaS applications can result in costly SaaS sprawl, data compliance violations, and can create cybersecurity vulnerabilities within the organization. This has become a bigger issue with fully remote and hybrid employees at work, with 70% of IT leaders saying SaaS investment has increased over the past 12 months-with nearly half reporting that controlling SaaS sprawl is their biggest challenge.

Cybercriminals are eager to take advantage of the distributed workforce, target individual employees and look for software vulnerabilities. If the IT department does not know the applications being used, they will not be able to evaluate the risks of these providers or how they interact with other IT organizations, leaving the door open and unchecked for a potential violation. Business security is the responsibility of every employee from C-Suite down, and it’s important to have regular training and conversations about SaaS application security and compliance.

Are Employees at Every Level on the Same Page about Using a SaaS Application?

Employees must have access to the tools they need to be successful in doing their jobs, and the IT department does not want to restrict the productivity or ease of use of the solutions. That said, IT leaders must communicate, educate and collaborate with employees at every level to ensure everyone is on the same page about enterprise security and SaaS application usage.

Have conversations about why it is dangerous for the organization to break the policy to use free or licensed applications. By having these conversations, IT leaders will also learn about the application requirements of departments or employees and will be more willing to partner with them in determining a secure solution to help them be productive.

The use of SaaS applications enables a completely new way of working, but failure to proactively manage its use will create challenges and headaches for IT leaders. In response, IT departments need to change how they work to maximize the growing use of SaaS applications while reducing the risks posed by IT and SaaS sprawl. This means having the technology to support remote and personal employees with their IT needs and adapt to the employee’s work preferences.

Knowing how many SaaS applications you actually use will help your organization reduce risk, and without using modern techniques to understand application usage, you may be missing a lot more. Having visibility across all applications used, categorized according to application functionality, will help IT break the loopholes across departments and have a holistic view of organizations ’SaaS application usage. The benefits of understanding your organization’s use of technology are many-reducing costs, identifying risks and minimizing redundancies to name a few-and will pay off significantly in the future.

Featured image by Pixabay.

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