Thanks to their ability to run on any device with a standard internet connection, Software as a Service (SaaS) solutions have been reigning in the information technology industry for quite some time. The popularity of SaaS offering is such that the market is growing at 18% a year, as per BMC. The same report suggests 99% of organizations will be using SaaS one way or another by 2022. SaaS ecosystems enable organizations to embrace the potential of remote working and even function without the need for physical office space. And it goes without saying how much SaaS offerings have enabled companies to reroute around the COVID-19 disruptions.
But the fact that these applications can be accessed literally from anywhere makes them a potential target for SaaS cybersecurity attacks. Despite a long list of advantages SaaS companies possess, such as reduced time to benefit, lower costs, modularity, and easy upgrades, one of its most overlooked parameters is perhaps its weakest link – security. Security breaches or compromise on a SaaS solution can cause damage to systems and users, seriously affecting the integrity and reputation of companies that use the applications and the SaaS companies that provide software solutions.
Spiralling SaaS Cybersecurity Breaches
One of the most infamous incidents of a SaaS-cybersecurity breach that 2021 alone witnessed is the incident at Colonial Pipeline in May 2021, where the American oil pipeline system endured a ransomware cyberattack. According to the media and FBI, a criminal hacking group known as Darkside, apart from stealing 100 gigabytes of data from the company, essentially locked the administrators out of their own system and demanded a ransom of $4.4 million to regain access. It directly impacted the SaaS system that manages the pipeline, causing pipeline shutdown and fuel shortages across the country. The president even had to declare an emergency in 17 states.
Similarly, in March 2021, a hacking organization known as Team TNT used a sophisticated malware called Hildegard to attack misconfigured clusters at Kubernetes, an open-source container orchestration platform for automating the management of containerized applications. It compromised around 50,000 IPs. Several attacks of varying damage potential continue to arise, many of which may be happening right under our noses.
Why Do Attackers Target SaaS Companies?
Both B2B or B2C SaaS solutions store important and sensitive data about their clients, users, and employees, including but not limited to data around financial transactions and other confidential data. The data stored in SaaS makes these web-based applications a well-regarded target for attackers.
They often breach security and steal sensitive information from a SaaS company to demand a ransom. If the victim doesn’t comply, the attacker usually publishes the data, deletes it, or permanently denies access to it. Apart from ransomware attacks, the attackers hope to get their hands on important financial data like credit card information to commit fraud. The attacks may also arise from malicious intents like professional revenge or business rivalries.
What Can SaaS Companies Do?
It’s not just massive companies that are hit by cybersecurity attacks. Smaller firms also have a lot to lose when their privacy and data use policies are violated. Often, one lawsuit is enough to put any company in huge financial debt. In addition to operating in accordance with information security standards like ISO 27001 there are many small things that SaaS companies do to strengthen their security posture cumulatively.
Passwords: SaaS companies should always discourage their employees from using weak and common passwords. Even though such passwords are easier to remember, they are more vulnerable to brute force attacks like password spraying. Periodic prompts for password change is a good practice.
Multi-factor Authentication: SaaS companies can enable multi-factor authentication, where an OTP or a security code is sent to the user’s phone or email to ensure their authenticity. Multi-factor authentication works best in terms of employees as well as end-users.
Data Backup: One need not emphasize the relevance of data backup, preferably in encrypted forms. It prevents companies from succumbing to the attackers’ demands and enables them to get back on track should an attack occur.
Organized Access Control: Measure such as role-based access control to crucial functions/modules/data can go a long way in rendering safe and secure SaaS ecosystems by minimizing the attack window of intruders.
Get Professional Help: Every SaaS company must evaluate its offering’s cybersecurity stance. By varying degrees, this applies to those companies that leverage SaaS applications as well. There are fool-proof tests to evaluate and improve the security of SaaS systems and even related networks. The most common tests are Application Security testing, where vulnerabilities of a system are identified in real-time by running a specific set of codes, and penetration testing, where a simulated attack is conducted to see how the security system responds.
All of these procedures, including security tests, are normally conducted by a cybersecurity team hired by companies to be invested 24×7 in preventing any attack or mitigating associated risks.
With almost 85% of all firms across the globe relying on SaaS products for their functioning and data/project management, practically everyone is a potential victim of any form of a cybersecurity attack. Therefore, it is the responsibility of SaaS companies to take extreme yet effective methods to safeguard their products, thereby their customers’ sensitive data. With the help of a team of SaaS cybersecurity experts, these companies can protect themselves from any unauthorized access, data breach, and other security attacks on their SaaS ecosystems and networks.
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