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What Is SSPM (SaaS Security Posture Management)? Features and Best Practices

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What is SaaS Security Posture Management (SSPM)?

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.

SSPM solutions may cover some or all of the following aspects of SaaS security:

  • Security controls—reviewing controls implemented by the organization for the purpose of protecting SaaS applications against external and internal cyberattacks.
  • Security management—providing tools and techniques to help establish, update, optimize, and apply security policies.
  • Detection and response—detecting threats, mitigating incidents, and recovering from cyber attacks.

This is part of an extensive series of guides about cloud security.

Get The Ultimate Guide for

Reducing SaaS Applications Risk

  • What are the key risks surrounding SaaS application
  • How to minimize the security risks associated with SaaS applications and vendors
  • How SaaS Security Posture Management (SSPM) can help reduce SaaS risk

What is SaaS Security Posture?

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.

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.


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.

SSPM can address the following problems in an organization, by continuously assessing security risks and managing the security for SaaS applications:

  • Complex configurations—modern SaaS applications have hundreds of configurations that control sensitive activities, such as the ability to share files via Google’s G Suite, access customer data in Salesforce, or record video calls in Zoom. Relying on default settings is not a viable solution.
  • Multiple applications—different SaaS applications, especially if provided by different vendors, have their own set of configurations and interpret common controls such as IAM and data sharing in their distinct way. IT and security teams need to understand what each application offers and how configuration settings affect the security posture.
  • Multiple interfaces—configurations are typically contained in multi-layer menus in each application console. Security and IT operations teams must be familiar with the security features in each application, and be able to find them in the application configuration. In some cases, simple operations like adding or removing permission for multiple users can be inefficient and time consuming.
  • Configuration drift—it is not sufficient to set a secure configuration once. To ensure there are no misconfigurations, administrators should periodically check each application and identify if there were deviations from secure configuration.

How Does SSPM Work?

SSPM tools continuously evaluate the following aspects of SaaS applications:

  • User permission settings: SSPM technology determines user permissions for SaaS applications. Some SSPM tools can also identify inactive and unused user accounts, ensuring organizations can terminate these accounts to reduce the number of attack vectors.
  • Compliance: SSPM solutions can identify specific security threats that might lead to a data security or privacy violation. 
  • Configuration: SSPM tools look for security misconfigurations that can potentially expose data.

If the solution finds risks, it automatically alerts security teams. Certain SSPM solutions go beyond simple alerting by offering automated mitigation.

SSPM Features and Capabilities

Here are several key features every SSPM solution should provide:

  • 24/7 monitoring—continuously monitoring and enforcing security and privacy policies for SaaS applications.
  • Application support—enabling quick integration with the SaaS ecosystem of the organization, including video conferencing platforms, HR management systems, customer support tools, workspaces, dashboards, content, file-sharing applications, marketing platforms, messaging applications, and all integrated applications. The SSPM solutions should be able to detect misconfigurations or incorrect roles and privileges in any of these applications.
  • Remediation—supports remediation efforts, either automatically or manually via support from the SSPM vendor. SSPM solutions that provide active remediation can improve your ability to rapidly respond to security risks.
  • Built-in security benchmarks—continuously running security checks according to industry benchmarks and industry standards, and determining insecure configurations or those that represent a compliance violation. SSPM solutions should also be able to tailor security and compliance checks to the specific needs of the organization.
  • Single pane of glass—displaying all security risks across all applications on one, user-friendly dashboard. All stakeholders, including application users, IT and security staff, should be able to understand security risks, and receive actionable information to remediate them.

SSPM vs. Other Solutions


CSPM, or Cloud Security Posture Management, is a cybersecurity solution that focuses on securing cloud environments. Like SSPM, it provides continuous monitoring and risk assessment. However, while SSPM focuses specifically on SaaS applications, CSPM takes a broader view, encompassing all types of cloud services including IaaS (Infrastructure as a Service) and PaaS (Platform as a Service).

While CSPM can provide valuable insights into your overall cloud security posture, it may not offer the same level of granularity as SSPM when it comes to SaaS applications. For businesses that heavily rely on SaaS, an SSPM solution may be the better choice.

On the other hand, if your business uses a mix of cloud services, a CSPM solution can provide a more comprehensive overview of your cloud security posture.


CASB, or Cloud Access Security Broker, is another important player in the cybersecurity landscape. Unlike SSPM and CSPM, which focus on monitoring and risk assessment, CASB is all about control. It acts as a gatekeeper, controlling access to cloud services and enforcing security policies.

While CASB can provide robust access control and policy enforcement, it may not offer the same level of visibility as SSPM. That’s because CASB focuses on the point of access, whereas SSPM monitors user activities within the SaaS environment.

If access control and policy enforcement are your primary concerns, a CASB solution may be the way to go. However, if you need deep visibility into user behaviors and potential vulnerabilities within your SaaS applications, an SSPM solution could be the better fit.


SIEM, or Security Information and Event Management, is a cybersecurity solution that collects and analyzes security-related data from various sources. It’s essentially a centralized hub for security data, providing a holistic view of your security posture.

While SIEM can provide a wealth of information, it may not offer the same level of SaaS-specific insights as SSPM. That’s because SIEM is designed to analyze data from a wide range of sources, not just SaaS applications.

In addition, SIEM solutions can be complex and resource-intensive, requiring specialized skills to manage effectively. SSPM, on the other hand, is designed to be easier to use and deploy, even for users without security expertise.

If you’re looking for a comprehensive security data analysis tool, a SIEM solution may be the right choice. However, if your primary concern is securing your SaaS applications, prefer an SSPM solution.

Get The Ultimate Guide for

Reducing SaaS Applications Risk

  • What are the key risks surrounding SaaS application
  • How to minimize the security risks associated with SaaS applications and vendors
  • How SaaS Security Posture Management (SSPM) can help reduce SaaS risk

SaaS Security Best Practices

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:

Encrypt Cloud Data

Encryption converts data into unreadable text that can only be deciphered using a decryption key. This ensures that even if data is intercepted or accessed unauthorizedly, it cannot be read or exploited.

Cloud data encryption should be applied to both data in transit and data at rest. This means that data should be encrypted as it moves between devices and networks and also when it’s stored in the cloud. Most SaaS providers offer built-in encryption services, but in some cases you might choose to rely on third-party encryption tools which provide better security or support specific organizational requirements. 

Closely Monitor Data Sharing

Data sharing is a common feature in SaaS applications, allowing for collaboration and efficiency in business operations. However, it also presents a significant security risk. Unauthorized or careless data sharing can lead to data breaches and loss of sensitive information.

To mitigate this risk, it’s essential to closely monitor data sharing activities in your SaaS applications. This involves setting up policies that govern how data should be shared and who it can be shared with. It also involves monitoring data transactions to identify any suspicious activities or breaches of policy.

Track Shadow IT

Shadow IT refers to the use of IT systems, devices, software, services, and solutions without explicit organizational approval. It poses a significant security risk as it often bypasses the organization’s security controls and policies.

In the context of SaaS applications, shadow IT involves the use of unapproved apps, platforms, or platform features. To mitigate shadow IT, identify and catalog all IT assets, including hardware, software, and SaaS applications. Monitor network traffic to identify any unauthorized activities or anomalies. Once shadow IT is identified, it should be either integrated into the organization’s IT framework or removed to eliminate the security risk.

Employ Identity and Access Management (IAM) Solutions

IAM is a system that manages who has access to what resources in an organization. It ensures that the right individuals have the right access to the right resources at the right times.

In the context of SaaS applications, IAM solutions help manage user identities and their access to various applications. This includes setting up user roles, managing user credentials, enforcing access policies, and monitoring user activities. IAM solutions can also help detect and prevent unauthorized access or activities, thereby enhancing the overall security posture.

Complement SSPM with a Data Loss Prevention (DLP) System

A DLP system is designed to prevent data breaches by monitoring, detecting, and blocking sensitive data while it’s in use, in motion, and at rest.

In the context of SaaS applications, a DLP system can identify sensitive data stored in the cloud and ensure it is adequately protected. This involves setting up policies that define what constitutes sensitive data, who can access it, and what they can do with it. The DLP system should also be able to monitor data transactions and prevent unauthorized access or activities.

Considerations for Selecting a SSPM Solution

Here are the key considerations to select the right SSPM solution for your organization.

  • Application integrations: A good SSPM solution should seamlessly integrate with all SaaS applications used in your organization. Prepare an inventory of SaaS applications currently used by your organization, and make sure the SSPM solution supports all of them with full coverage of the relevant features and editions.
  • Comprehensive security inspections: An effective SSPM solution should be capable of identifying a wide range of security issues, from misconfigurations and vulnerabilities to potential compliance risks.
  • Remediation: The solution should provide automated remediation for common issues or detailed guidance for manual remediation of complex issues.
  • Device posture management: The SSPM solution should provide visibility into the security posture of each device used to access your SaaS applications, identifying security risks like outdated software or missing security patches.

Cynet SaaS Security Posture Management

Cynet 360 AutoXDR automatically identifies, prioritizes and fixes security risks across leading SaaS applications. Using a simple dashboard, security administrators can immediately identify and prioritize SaaS security posture issues. For each SaaS environment, you can quickly view the types of risk identified, the severity of each, and details about each misconfiguration, including the related compliance standards. Historical views allow administrators to identify and analyze persistent areas of concern to help avoid future compliance violations.

Learn more about Cynet SSPM

See Additional Guides on Key Cloud Security Topics

Together with our content partners, we have authored in-depth guides on several other topics that can also be useful as you explore the world of cloud security.

What is MDR

Authored by Cynet

Disaster Recovery

Authored by Faddom

Cloud Security Solutions

Authored by NetApp 

Learn more about Cynet AutoXDR

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