Cyber Security Best Practices to Secure SaaS Applications

As a widely used platform for businesses and individuals, Microsoft 365 has been a prime target for cyber attackers. As Microsoft addressed vulnerabilities in Word and Excel, threat actors have shifted their focus towards Onenote. The attackers that were lying dormant have returned and are spreading malware through Onenote files.

How does the attack happen?

The attack occurs when an attachment is received via a reply chain email that appears to be an invoice or a job reference. The system is compromised when the user opens the attachment and clicks the “View” button where a malicious VB script file – ‘click.wsf’ is hidden beneath the View button.

Why should your organisation be worried?

Organisations are increasingly adopting automation to enhance and boost overall business performance. And hence most organisations are now dependent on third-party services, including SaaS.

And yes, Microsoft 365 is a SaaS product.

So what is SaaS?

Saas or Software-as-a-service is a subscription-based service model in which the customer pays and buys the product’s license for a period according to their requirement. SaaS-based applications are hosted on the cloud and are delivered online. This makes it more easily accessible and reduces the production cost of buying the product off-shelf and installing it from scratch.

Since SaaS stores data in the cloud, organisations need not worry about installing infrastructure or databases. This allows the business to focus on its core operations while letting the SaaS provider handle the technical aspects, ultimately reducing costs and increasing efficiency.

SaaS offers several advantages, but it also has its drawbacks.The fact that SaaS is still in its nascent stages may not come with safety precautions as developing the product from scratch.

Consider a scenario where the SaaS provider suffers a security compromise. Confirming that the supplier has set adequate safety measures is crucial because an incident like this could negatively impact your company’s data and operations.

Other factors that affect a company’s security when using a SaaS application include;

Reason 1: The SaaS sprawl, where a company buys n number of SaaS products. This puts the security and IT team inside a heap of unmanageable SaaS apps.

Reason 2: Shadow IT. When employees use products that are not approved by the IT team.

Reason 3: When developers install API integrations without checking the security parameters by aligning them with the company security policies.

Reason 4: When business managers opt for SaaS solutions without collaborating with the organisation’s security team.

Reason 5: Misconfiguration while installing a SaaS. For instance, if permissions are not correctly configured during the set-up phase, such as providing read and edit access to everyone, it can lead to unauthorised data tampering.

Now let’s touch on cyber security best practices to tackle the situations mentioned above.

Cyber Security Best Practices Checklist

Checklist 1: Finding all the SaaS apps within the organisation and mapping the data can address reasons 1 and 2. The analysis of each user interaction and the incoming and outgoing traffic to each application will be made easier. This will guarantee that no unauthorised access occurs.

Checklist 2: By developing a compliance and security policy within the organisation and coordinating it with the compliance and security standards of SaaS products, reason 3 can be solved. It is necessary to educate the IT and security teams on the policies to prevent unsafe API integrations.

Checklist 3: The lack of communication between the business and IT teams is reason number four. Once a shared meeting is maintained between the two teams, it will aid in improving communication. There should be no obstacles between the two squads as they approach one another.

Checklist 4: Reason 5 could be addressed by configuring the SaaS correctly. Many SaaS applications allow users to change or delete items from databases by default. Look for these types of permissions, and only approve them if necessary. Never offer access to everyone; only privileged users should have access.

Additional Cyber Security Tips

Tip 1: Verify if the SaaS solution offers SSO. If its available, ask the employees to log in using Single Sign-On (SSO). As a result, the management of user interactions is made simpler for the IT departments.

Tip 2: Ensure that the SaaS product provides multi-factor authentication. If yes, enable MFA for additional security.

Tip 3: Establish a security framework with zero trust. By performing this, it can be made sure that every action—from connecting to the network to leaving the network—is monitored. This ensures that only individuals with permission are allowed access.

Tip 4: Check if the SaaS provider offers data encryption. SaaS applications may have this option as a default. Ensure that data encryption is enabled. As a result, data in motion, transit, and at rest will be encrypted thus converting plain text to cipher text making it hard to decode.

Tip 5: Ensure the SaaS provider adheres to regulatory standards such as GDPR or SOC. Having a regulatory certificate will make that product more trustworthy.

Tip 6: Establish a systematic risk management system to detect and prevent cyber-attacks. Always ensure your company has a proper incident plan so that a cyberattack does not cause problems for your customers.

Tip 7: Ensure that the SaaS provider has a robust recovery and backup plan. The safety of the data will be ensured in this way.

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In conclusion, the threat of cyber attacks against SaaS is becoming increasingly prevalent, and businesses must take proactive measures to protect their digital assets. By adhering to industry best practices and providing continuous cyber security awareness training for employees, organizations can significantly reduce their risk of falling victim to a cyber attack. It is crucial to stay current on the latest security trends and implement robust security measures. By taking these steps, businesses can help safeguard their SaaS applications and ensure the safety of their sensitive data.