The term “security posture” refers to the security status of all IT assets within an organization. This includes code repositories, Software as a Service (SaaS) applications, hardware assets, networks, data pipelines, all information, and services.
SaaS Security Posture Management (SSPM) solutions offer tools and automation capabilities that can provide visibility into the security posture of SaaS environments, and make it easier to remediate security concerns in those environments.
SaaS providers follow the shared responsibility model. This means the SaaS vendor is responsible for protecting the underlying infrastructure, network traffic, operating systems (OS), hypervisor, and applications. The SaaS customer is required to protect user access and data—this is where SSPM solutions come in, providing the visibility and tooling required to adequately manage and protect user access and data in SaaS environments.
SSPM solutions may cover some or all of the following aspects of SaaS security:
This is part of an extensive series of guides about cloud security.
In this article:
SaaS security practices and tools help organizations secure corporate data and user privacy in subscription-based cloud applications. SaaS applications often hold a large amount of sensitive information. These applications allow many users to gain access to information from a wide range of devices and locations. This can introduce major privacy and security risks.
SaaS security is different
While security and IT teams are generally familiar with tools and practices designed to protect Infrastructure as a Service (IaaS) and Platform as a Service (PaaS) environments, SaaS security requires a different approach.
SaaS applications serve different teams with varying degrees of technical expertise. Additionally, the majority of organizations use multiple SaaS applications, each with a different security structure and different levels of complexity. This can turn SaaS security into a complex and time consuming effort.
Minor involvement by security teams
In some cases, the engagement between security teams and the businesses units using SaaS applications is brief. For example, the security team may be brought in to assess the application and provide a report, and the engagement may stop there. This type of limited interaction between end users and security teams may lead to a poor security posture that leaves the organization exposed to critical security and compliance risks.
In other cases, SaaS applications are managed by an internal team focused primarily on operational functionality. This team may not have the tooling, skillset, or time required to properly secure SaaS applications. Some organizations may bring in an additional role or team to take over security responsibilities, but because there is no clear owner, security may not be implemented consistently.
These challenges emphasize the need for an automated solution that can identify, alert, and even automatically remediate SaaS security issues.
Many critical business systems are being migrated to SaaS. According to a Gartner report, worldwide spending on SaaS is as much as 48% higher than the spend on infrastructure as a service (IaaS) and 106% higher than platform as a service (PaaS). Many organizations rely on a similar set of popular, strategic SaaS applications to implement common business functions.
The SaaS trend means security teams must manage and secure applications that they have no control over. Cloud security is a shared responsibility between cloud providers and customers. Most enterprise SaaS applications provide some security controls, but customers need to properly configure these applications and prevent configuration changes over time.
Security posture management may seem simple at first glance, but it can quickly get very complex, even for a small to medium organization, not to mention for a large enterprise:
SSPM solutions can help with this complexity by continuously assessing security risks and managing the security for SaaS applications. With SSPM, security administrators can easily understand the configuration of each application, see how to achieve a secure configuration, and ensure that applications are configured according to best practices.
At a minimum, SSPM should be able to report how SaaS security settings are currently configured, and provide suggestions to reduce risk. Ideally, SSPM should be able to comprehensively test an application according to security benchmarks, and perform automatic reconciliation, and reconfiguration.
Here are several key features every SSPM solution should provide:
A Cloud Access Security Broker (CASB) is a broadly adopted security solution, which acts as a bridge between end users and cloud providers. It improves visibility over application traffic, and applies consistent security policies across on-premise, SaaS, PaaS, and IaaS environments.
Many CASB vendors are adding SSPM and cloud security posture management (CSPM) to their products. There are three advantages to the convergence between CASB and SSPM solutions:
Here are several important best practices that all SaaS customers must practice. Many of them can be implemented or made easier by the use of SSPM solutions:
Cynet SSPM ensures that SaaS applications are properly configured to protect them from compromise. The solution continuously monitors SaaS applications to identify gaps between stated security policies and actual security posture, letting you automatically find and fix security risks in SaaS assets, and automatically prioritize risks and misconfigurations by severity.
Cynet SSPM provides:
Learn more about Cynet SaaS Security Posture Management.
SaaS Security: The Challenge and 7 Critical Best Practices
The vast majority of organizations use cloud environments and many have multi-cloud implementations, with the average enterprise leveraging services from five cloud providers. Cloud computing is understandably popular, but it also poses a number of security threats including compliance issues, breaches of contracts, non-secured APIs and misconfigurations.
Learn about the importance of SaaS security in the modern enterprise, why SaaS is difficult to secure, and practical steps to securing your SaaS portfolio.
What Is SaaS Security?
Software as a Service (SaaS) security refers to the security mechanisms used to protect data in cloud-based SaaS applications. It encompasses practices organizations use to protect sensitive data in the cloud, including personal customer information and sensitive business information. SaaS security is a shared responsibility between service providers and their customers.
Understand SaaS security and discover best practices to ensure your SaaS provider is doing their part, and you are properly securing your workloads.
Read more: What Is SaaS Security?
CSPM: How it Works and 11 Ways to Evaluate CSPM Solutions
Cloud native applications are increasingly adopted by organizations looking to get the most out of the cloud, including agility, cost savings, and performance. However, the cloud introduced new risks, including misconfiguration and vulnerabilities that can expose applications to cyber attacks.
Understand why Cloud Security Posture Management (CSPM) is important, the CSPM process, and 11 criteria you should evaluate when selecting a CSPM solution.
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