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The Cyber Security Awareness Checklist For SaaS Products
By Kamal Jacob
Over the last few years, the software-as-a-service (SaaS) model has evolved tremendously. What was once just a budding concept, has today come to mainstream — enterprise IT organizations are extensively making use of cloud services. And to the surprise, companies that used to sell traditional, standard software are now leveraging the superpowers of cloud — even giants like Microsoft provide subscription-based services at present.
And if you are wondering why even the tech behemoths are adopting SaaS, then you must know that it delivers some of the incredible benefits to its users. According to a source, the entire SaaS industry is prophesied to reach $164.29 billion by 2022.
There was a time when employees would connect to the firm’s in-house system to access the applications and data that was stored on a central server. However, gone are those days; the SaaS model has completely reimagined the nature of work, offers a common platform where app users can easily collaborate and manage their supply chain with ease.
That is not all, it doesn’t feel heavy on your company’s wallet and also saves a significant amount of time. Being cloud-based, SaaS products are scalable and poses fewer integration challenges compared to licensed based standard software or application.
Challenges With SaaS Products And Vendors
SaaS through the years has become a staple for many businesses around the world. And this shows how companies are becoming competitive and are keeping up with the latest tech. However, there is nothing that comes without cons — SaaS products have their flipside too and one of the major pain points with them is security. If you look closely, technology is not only empowering the good-doers but also black hats. As more and more data is residing in the cloud, the more companies are becoming the target of hackers.
Moving from in-house software or traditional software to SaaS is crucial. And talking about security flaws with SaaS products, it's most of the time related to the vendors. Because, when you move to cloud-based software, all your data gets transferred to the service provider’s site, which is enough to make you think about your data security. And why not? What if the vendor’s service is not 100 percent secured? What if the services they are providing get pwned? There are several other factors that play a major role in your data’s security.
And the mentioned instances are not speculations; there are instances when companies have suffered some of the major data breaches because their SaaS vendors were living in denial, rather than fixing their cybersecurity infrastructure. Therefore, when it comes to data security and you opt for SaaS, you need more than faith as assurance that they will follow through on their best cybersecurity practices.
The Cyber Security Awareness Checklist For SaaS businesses:
In order to keep safe sensitive data, companies need to make the right vendor choice for its SaaS requirement. And that can be done by following a strong checklist.
1. Do The Mandatory Verification
The first and foremost thing to do before opting for a SaaS provider is to take a look at the vendor’s service history. Ask the vendor how about all the services they have provided and how happy the clients were.
A company can take this step to the next level by having a word with the previous clients of the vendor and try understanding how the vendor has solved their pain points. Also, don’t forget to learn about the vendor's concern for privacy, reliability and security vulnerabilities.
2. Consider Asking The Vendor About The Software Reliability
When a company opts for a SaaS over in-house or traditional software, one of the major things they should look for is reliability. A vendor that is driven by performance would never fail to provide a top-notch level of system reliability (or at least a level of security that fulfills clients’ needs). Also, one way or the other, a company would get to know about the reliability of the vendor’s software by following the previous point.
3. Understand The Vendor’s Software Development Lifecycle
It is without a doubt one the major things that every company should consider. When you take a look at the vendor’s software development process, you get to know how robust the software is and what is the standard of coding the vendor follows. That is not all, also see if they have a strong ecosystem for software testing as well. The better the software testing phase, the less the chance of having a bug left out in the software.
4. Data Recovery Time
Talking about data recovery, there are two aspects: when the system gets compromised and when your service contract expires with the vendor. And the vendor should be able to give you a concrete answer regarding these two aspects.
Ask the vendor how long it will take to retrieve the company’s entire data if you decide to terminate the contract or if the system falls prey to a cyber-attack. Make sure, the vendor doesn’t take too long and doesn’t skip a single bit of data while recovering.
5. The Update And Fix Cycle
Providing secured and reliable software is one thing, but providing time to time update service is an imperative thing that every vendor should do and it should also include audits. Before opting for a SaaS, every company should check the policy where the audit, update and fix cycle is mentioned.
6. Encryption Of Data
Most SaaS providers claim to provide encryption; however, that claim shouldn’t be the only thing that a company should decide on their service provider. Even if it is the transmission that is encrypted, make sure you ask the vendor you show or explain the entire process.
When it’s about data security, no company can compromise on data encryption. A vendor should have strong encryption standards and key management for data transmission between the client site and the vendor site.
7. A Vendor Should Be Able To Tackle Island Hopping
Over the years, hackers and their methods have evolved tremendously. And one such method of hacking is island hopping or leapfrogging. In this method, hackers instead of targeting a company attack its affiliates with low cybersecurity infrastructure. So, when you opt for SaaS, make sure the provider has a strong cybersecurity infrastructure, so that no black hat should gain access to your data by hacking your vendor.
8. User Security
This might be one of the most crucial points to consider when implementing SaaS. When you deal with operations that involves a massive amount of user base and their data is transferred to a SaaS provider, make sure you have a clear picture of how the vendor take care of user data. That is not all, they also shouldn’t misuse any of the user data. Therefore, run a complete background check before opting for a SaaS product from a specific vendor.
Cybersecurity is the most critical aspect of every organization — one wrong move and all your data would go in wrong hands. And when it comes to SaaS, the security is definitely going to more — a company transmutes a significant amount of data to someone else’s service. Neglecting SaaS issues and solutions can cause great damage to your company as well as your clients/customers. Therefore, it is always considered to be good practice to evaluate the mentioned points.
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