Hackers Are Targeting Your SaaS Applications. Here’s How To Protect Them

Software-as-a-Service (SaaS) applications are forecast to account for the majority of software in use over the next three years. Organizations are realizing how adopting SaaS instead of implementing on-premises applications can shorten software implementation timelines at a lower cost. However, what users don’t always consider are the security risks associated with SaaS.

In general, the more SaaS applications a company has in its tech stack, the greater the risk of becoming a victim of a cyberattack. Many organizations take a hands-on approach to SaaS security, making these applications a prime target for hackers. To improve security, IT teams must understand how each of their SaaS applications works, clarify who has access to them, and identify vulnerabilities that hackers could exploit.

SaaS complacency is rampant — and costly

The average organization has about 323 SaaS applications, and on average IT teams only manage 27% of them. Managing security is difficult with this little visibility. If you can only manage about a quarter of your applications, how can you be sure they’re all secure?

Business units and individual employees independently purchase and manage the remaining 73% of SaaS applications — a practice known as shadow IT. While employees feel that shadow IT gives them more autonomy, the downsides are significant: Using software that isn’t reviewed or monitored by IT can lead to data breaches.

A notable example was last year when a group of hackers targeted Electronic Arts (EA). In an attempt to gain access to valuable data, the hackers bought $10 worth of stolen cookies containing the Slack credentials for EA employees. Once inside Slack, the hackers were able to secure a multi-factor authentication token from an IT admin, allowing them to obtain game source codes, debugging tools, and SDK and API keys.

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Ultimately, Slack was the gateway cybercriminals needed to launch an attack — but if the application had been monitored more closely, IT could have spotted the vulnerability sooner. Attacks like EA’s are commonplace, especially when organizations need to manually manage hundreds of SaaS applications.

Although it costs next to nothing for these hackers to steal EA’s data, the cost of a data breach is much higher for victims – costing US companies an average of $4.24 million in 2021. As companies continue to invest in SaaS, the cost of complacency is growing exponentially. To prevent data breaches, your organization must reevaluate its approach to SaaS management and limit vulnerabilities that hackers now want to exploit.

Is SaaS transparency the key to preventing data breaches?

Data breaches can occur even with reputable tools known to IT such as B. Slack by EA. So imagine the risks associated with applications that your IT team doesn’t even know about.

To get the most out of your SaaS applications and strengthen your security posture, you need to create a SaaS management strategy. A thorough strategy will provide more visibility into your SaaS applications and reduce the associated risks. A successful SaaS management strategy should include the following aspects:

  • Make detection and monitoring continuous. As previously mentioned, the average company has hundreds of SaaS applications – but most IT departments don’t have a systematic way to see when new applications come into their environment. This lack of visibility is dangerous when you view each application as a potential opening for cybercriminals to break into the organization’s network. Your IT team probably doesn’t have the bandwidth to manually monitor the sheer volume of SaaS applications in spreadsheets, but a SaaS management platform can simplify this process.
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A SaaS management platform can identify every SaaS application coming into your organization, including shadow IT applications, and monitor employee usage. Platforms that use AI can also notify you of new SaaS purchases, so your IT team can instantly configure them for existing security systems.

  • Disable inactive accounts. When an employee leaves the company, IT teams typically disable their logins for critical business applications, but many less critical applications are forgotten. If the employee is using an application that your IT team is not aware of, that employee can retain access beyond their time with your organization. And there’s always a chance their credentials could fall into the wrong hands.

Obviously, giving people outside your organization access to sensitive information isn’t a good idea. As part of your SaaS management strategy, your IT team should pay close attention to employee attrition and manually deactivate users when necessary, or use your SaaS management platform to tag them instead.

  • Empower your employees to take the initiative. While shadow IT applications pose a significant security risk, they also satisfy employees who want to be in control of how they work. Two-thirds of Gen Z and Millennials say they prioritize autonomy in choosing the apps, services, and devices they use at work.

An application catalog can give these workers the autonomy they want without sacrificing security. After you identify the SaaS applications your company uses, you can assemble a self-service library of these SaaS tools. Employees can browse this catalog to experiment with different applications and find the ones that work best for them.

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In addition to a SaaS management strategy, your IT team should also educate employees about common SaaS security risks. Employees should understand how to spot the signs of session hijacking, social masquerading, and phishing attacks. Most importantly, they should understand that caution is always the best approach – if you’re not sure, ask.

To get the most out of your #SaaS applications and strengthen your #security posture, you need to develop a SaaS management strategy. to provide better visibility into your SaaS applications and reduce associated risks. #Respect dataClick to tweet

The more SaaS applications you have, the harder it is to keep them secure

SaaS adoption and growth show no signs of slowing down. Businesses will continue to prioritize the convenience and efficiency these applications provide, and your IT team needs to keep up. To keep new applications secure, you need a strong SaaS management strategy that allows you to be proactive rather than reactive. The combination of effective security training and thorough SaaS monitoring allows your organization to grow its SaaS catalog with greater security.

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