SaaS Security Checklist: Keep Your Product and User Data Safe

February 28, 2023

SaaS Security Checklist Keep Your Product and User Data Safe

With the demand for using Software-as-a-Service (SaaS) skyrocketing, your need for security practices and protocols should also be on the rise.

According to a 2021 Statista report, 42.3 percent of companies in Spain allocated up to 15 percent of their IT investment budget towards SaaS. For 2.6 percent of companies, investing in SaaS accounted for more than half of their IT investment fund. So, a huge investment like this should be safeguarded with an effective security strategy.

How do you ensure a successful and secure SaaS product? We’ve got you covered with a minimal checklist of security measures to help you keep your product, user data, and other sensitive information secure.

Let’s start!

What is SaaS Security?

SaaS Security is all about keeping user privacy and corporate data safe within cloud-based applications requiring a subscription.

Since SaaS applications contain a wealth of sensitive information and can be accessed by numerous users from almost any device, they can pose a significant risk to privacy and confidential data.

Why is this important for businesses?

  • Protects sensitive data and user privacy
  • Mitigates security risks
  • Helps comply with regulatory requirements
  • Preserves business reputation
  • Reduces the risk of costly data breaches
Startechup SaaS Application Development Services

9 Common Security Threats to SaaS Apps that Businesses Experience

From phishing attacks to security breaches, SaaS apps are vulnerable to a range of security threats that can put sensitive data and business operations at risk.

In this section, we’ll explore nine of the most common security threats to SaaS apps that businesses experience and discuss ways to prevent and mitigate these threats.

1. Phishing attacks

One of the top SaaS security risks that businesses experience is phishing attacks. They involve fraudulent emails, messages, or websites that trick users into sharing sensitive information, such as login credentials, with the attacker.

2. Malware attacks

In today’s digital world, the risk level of malware attacks is also high. Malware refers to malicious software that can damage or disrupt computer systems and networks, stealing data in the process.

3. Data breaches

Data breaches occur when unauthorized individuals gain access to sensitive data stored within SaaS apps. These security breaches can result in the loss of confidential information, financial damages, and reputational harm.

4. Insider threats

Insider threats are data security risks posed by a service provider who has authorized access to the apps. These individuals may intentionally or unintentionally cause harm by stealing data, damaging systems, or spreading malware.

SaaS vendor risk quote

5. Distributed Denial of Service (DDoS) attacks

DDoS attacks involve overwhelming a SaaS app’s server with a flood of requests, causing the app to become inaccessible to users. It’s a malicious attempt to disrupt the service and cause downtime.

6. Man-in-the-middle attacks

Man-in-the-middle attacks occur when attackers intercept communication between a user and a SaaS application. Doing so allows them to eavesdrop on conversations or steal sensitive information.

7. Vendor lock-in

Companies face an immense risk if their SaaS vendor is acquired by a rival or ceases operation due to the lack of vendor interoperability. This leaves them in a precarious situation, unable to access or transfer their data.

8. Compliance issues

It’s important to note that SaaS security also involves compliance with data protection regulations like GDPR and HIPAA. Failing to comply with these regulations can result in hefty fines and serious legal repercussions.

9. Cross-site scripting (XSS)

XSS attacks involve injecting malicious code into web pages or applications, allowing attackers to access user information. This attack can devastate businesses since it can be used to steal user credentials and other sensitive information.

These are just a few of the SaaS security issues that many businesses face. If you’re looking to protect your SaaS application from these threats, it’s important to implement a robust security posture.

SaaS security team meeting

SaaS Security Best Practices Checklist

Not all cloud providers or offshore outsourcing companies are the same. That’s why you have to take security measures to ensure that your product and user data are safe.

If you don’t know how you can do this, start with these best practices to ensure your SaaS solution is secure:

Review Recommendations from National or Regional Authorities

Before signing up for new SaaS solutions, it’s advisable to research the commonly recognized security standards in your country, region, or industry. This will help you determine what data encryption and authentication measures are expected.

A legal team will help review security standards and ensure compliance. You can also directly ask about your provider’s security measures.

To give you an idea of what you should look for, here are the common security compliance regulations that you should check:

  • SOC 2
  • ISO 27000 series
  • NIST 800-171

Compliance with data protection rules is also a priority in establishing SaaS security.

Ever since GDPR was adopted in 2018, the protection of user data has become an integral part of discussions within the digital space. Consequently, several nations have imposed stringent customer data privacy and security regulations.

If your provider runs and manages their own data center, you need to be aware of strict regulations on personal data storage. Complying with the nation’s rules is important to ensure data security.

Here are the laws that protect data that you should know:

  • GDPR
  • California Consumer Privacy Act (CCPA)

Some countries and regions have strict regulations on where companies can store personal data, and it’s important to comply with these rules to avoid legal issues. For instance, if your cloud provider handles the personal data of EU citizens, you must ensure that the data remains within the EU’s borders.

Essentially, don’t overlook this critical aspect of data protection, and ensure they comply with applicable regulations.

Develop a Set of Standards to Evaluate SaaS Providers

Creating standardized and repeatable checklists helps evaluate new SaaS vendors effectively. By doing so, you can ensure that you’re selecting vendors that meet your security standards and minimize the risks of using insecure applications.

To give you a guide on what to include in your SaaS provider checklist, consider doing these steps:

Check their access to information

Will your SaaS provider have access to the data you store on their systems? If so, how are they protecting your information? Check their protocols on access controls and the security measures in place to protect customer data.

Inquire about your SaaS provider’s access policy and protocols. They should be able to commit to a robust access management system that allows only authorized personnel to access customer data.

Examine their encryption protocols

Encryption is an important security measure for protecting data stored in the cloud. It ensures that data is unreadable unless decrypted with an encryption key, thus protecting it from unauthorized access.

They should offer end-to-end encryption protocols and regularly scheduled encryption key rotations to ensure that shared data is safe in and out of the SaaS environment.

Learn if they share data with third-parties

Most companies use third-party applications to process customer data. If your SaaS provider uses third-party services, they need to ensure that the data is handled securely.

Ensure that your provider agrees with the third-party service to protect data in transit and at rest.

data center

Arrange Automated Backups

Data backups are a crucial part of this SaaS security checklist. Automating this process provides additional protection without disrupting your business operations. When configured correctly, it requires minimal time and effort.

Unfortunately, many companies skip this because of costly manual processes. When selecting a provider of SaaS solutions, ensure they have automated backup systems in place.

If there ever comes a time that a security attack occurs, automated backups make it easy to restore data without any hassle and deal with disaster recovery.

To ensure your data is protected, it’s best to store backups in multiple locations. Therefore, even if one of the copies fails, you’ll still have other accessible sources available for recovery.

Implement Internal Security Policies and Guidelines

Aside from the security controls your provider implements, you and your employees should also know your role in your SaaS security concerns.

As a business owner, you can take the initiative to implement a SaaS security program. It will give them a basic understanding of the security measures they must adhere to when using SaaS applications.

Here are some practices you should include in the program:

Enforce the IAM Method

Under IAM, you can control who can access your SaaS app and its data. It implements two-factor authentication (2FA) and multifactor authentication (MFA) for an added layer of security to the login process. This way, you reduce the risk of data leakage and account takeovers.

Real-time Monitoring of Sharing Accounts

In addition to using 2FA, businesses should also monitor user activity within their SaaS application. Real-time monitoring allows you to track how users access and use the system and detect any malicious activity.

Single Sign-On Integration

Single Sign On (SSO) is a great way to boost employee productivity and security. It minimizes the risk of compromised user credentials by reducing the number of passwords needed.

Knowing which SaaS apps are most popular and pose the highest risk level provides essential insight to security teams, enabling them to take swift action.

Build an Incident Response

Creating a strong incident management process to respond to security incidents is essential to a successful SaaS security strategy.

Your incident response plan should cover all the necessary steps, including:

  • Create a response team
  • Implement a system for identifying and prioritizing incidents based on the severity
  • Develop procedures for evidence collection and preservation
  • Define the criteria for incident closure and follow-up actions
  • Test the incident response plan regularly and update it as necessary

Having a security team allows you to act swiftly in case of a data breach, limiting potential damage and restoring data quickly.

Review Your Policies Annually

It is paramount that all existing policies are examined every year, and your IT/SaaS security team must remain aware of any recent changes in regulations or advice.

Conducting a risk assessment and frequent penetration testing are also part of this process. It helps you identify any weak spots within your SaaS security infrastructure and determine the best way to address them.

Updating your technology stack to its latest versions is also important. Application or system updates often contain security patches to address potential vulnerabilities before hackers exploit them.

Moreover, frequently auditing the compliance of your technology stack with current standards and trends is also important. Assessing how your tech stack can also effectively adapt as you continue expanding is necessary.

With a robust security process in place, you can ensure that your data remains secure and business operations run smoothly.

Now that you know the key elements of a successful SaaS security strategy, it’s time to start implementing them!

shaking hands with a SaaS developer

Let’s Develop Your SaaS App!

In today’s digital world, the widespread adoption of cloud computing has made businesses more competitive. As such, SaaS has become an important tool for driving business growth and efficiency.

At StarTechUP, we’re committed to helping our clients with SaaS application development. Our experienced team of developers can handle any project, no matter its size or complexity!

Whether for small businesses or companies with thousands of users, you can outsource your software with StarTechUP, which has the expertise to build an effective and secure SaaS app.

Let us help you make the most out of your SaaS app. Contact us today to get started!

About the author: Andrea Jacinto - Content Writer

A content writer with a strong SEO background, Andrea has been working with digital marketers from different fields to create optimized articles which are informative, digestible, and fun to read. Now, she's writing for StarTechUP to deliver the latest developments in tech to readers around the world. View on Linkedin