Top 6 SaaS Security Threats for 2023
With the New Year here and employees back from holiday vacations, it’s time for security teams to prepare for the security challenges anticipated for 2023. With SaaS sprawl ever growing and becoming more complex, organizations can look to six areas within their software-as-a-service environment to harden and secure.
Enterprises can have thousands of security controls in their employees’ SaaS apps. One of the security team’s biggest challenges is to secure each of these settings, user roles and permissions to ensure they comply with industry and company policy.
Besides their obvious risk of misalignment with security policies, configurations can change with each update, and the many compliance industry standards compound their complexity. Adding to that challenge, SaaS app owners tend to sit in business departments and are not trained or focused on the app’s security.
Security teams should onboard a SaaS security posture management (SSPM) solution that provides deep visibility and control across a critical mass of applications in the SaaS stack. The solution must identify both global app settings and platform-specific configurations within each app.
SSPMs should provide security teams with context into security alerts and help answer questions like: Which users are subject to a certain misconfiguration? Are they admins? Is their multifactor authentication (MFA) enabled? By having these answers at their fingertips, security teams can enforce company and industry policies and remediate potential risks from any misconfiguration.
SaaS-to-SaaS app integrations are designed for easy self-service installations, boosting efficiency and functionality. However, these features pose a security nightmare. The challenge is centered on the increasing volume of apps connected to the company’s SaaS environment.
On average, thousands of apps are connected without the approval or knowledge of the security team. Employees connect these apps, often to boost productivity, enable remote work, and better build and scale a company’s work processes.
However, when connecting apps to their workspaces, employees are prompted to grant permissions for the app to access. These permissions include the ability to read, create, update and delete corporate or personal data, not to mention that the app itself could be malicious.
By clicking “accept,” the permissions they grant can enable threat actors to gain access to valuable company data. Users are often unaware of the significance of the permissions they’ve granted to these third-party apps.
Falling in the shadow IT domain, security teams must be able to discover third-party apps and identify which pose a risk. From access scopes requested by these apps, to authorized users and cross-referencing, the security personnel should be able to measure the level of access to sensitive data across the organization’s stack. An SSPM solution like Adaptive Shield can arm the security team with this type of discovery and control in addition to providing advanced reporting capabilities for effective and accurate risk assessments to drive actionable measures.
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Device-to-SaaS User Risk
Security teams must deal with threats from users accessing their SaaS applications from different, compromised devices. Accessing a SaaS app via an unmanaged device poses a high level of risk for an organization, especially when the device owner is a highly privileged user. Personal devices are susceptible to data theft and can inadvertently pass on malware into the organization’s environment. Lost or stolen devices can also provide a gateway for criminals to access the network.
Organizations need a solution that enables them to manage SaaS risks originating from compromised devices. An SSPM solution can identify privileged users such as admins and executives, calculate user-risk levels and recognize which endpoint devices need to be more secured.
Identity and Access Governance
Every SaaS app user is a potential gateway for a threat actor, as seen in the most recent Uber MFA fatigue attack. Processes to ensure proper users’ access control and authentication settings are imperative, in addition to validation of role-based access management (as opposed to individual-based access) and establishing an understanding of access governance. Identity and access governance helps ensure that security teams have full visibility and control of what is happening across all domains.
Security teams need to monitor all identities to ensure that user activity meets their organization’s security guidelines. IAM governance enables the security team to act on arising issues by providing constant monitoring of the company’s SaaS security posture as well as its implementation of access control.
Data leakage is a growing SaaS concern. Files or other resources that are shared with anyone who has a link, or shared are without an expiration date, are at risk of falling into unauthorized hands, as we saw in the recent Nissan and Slack breaches.
Security teams need to introduce data leakage protection solutions, which are typically included in SSPM platforms. This includes security checks looking into the permissions for each file, and an asset inventory showing exposed or publicly shared files from across the SaaS stack.
Identity Threat Detection and Response
Threat actors are increasingly targeting SaaS applications through their users. As more data shifts to the cloud, they are an attractive target that can be accessed from any computer with the right login credentials.
To prevent these types of attacks, organizations need to deploy SaaS identity threat detection and response (ITDR) mechanisms. This new set of tools is capable of identifying and alerting security teams when there is an anomaly or questionable user behavior, or when a malicious app is installed.
Gartner included SaaS security posture management (SSPM) in its 2021 report “4 Must-Have Technologies That Made the Gartner Hype Cycle for Cloud Security.” With an SSPM platform, like Adaptive Shield, organizations can prevent risk, detect and respond to threats, and harden their SaaS security ecosystem.
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