SaaS: Your IT Team's Latest Security Challenge

COVID has accelerated migration to the cloud. And has also exposed the security of your IT structure like never before. We give you seven tips for IT professionals to tackle these new challenges.
SaaS: Your IT Team's Latest Security Challenge

COVID has accelerated migration to the cloud. And has also exposed the security of your IT structure like never before. We give you seven tips for IT professionals to tackle these new challenges.

Corporate software: from traditional infrastructure to full SaaS

It wasn’t so long ago that we used to operate and store all company data within the “safe” walls of a corporate network behind a firewall. This includes sensitive data like customer data or company financials.

Then SaaS and the cloud came along, and some companies started using SaaS. And inevitably, teams started transferring confidential data to these apps. Apps that are not protected by the corporate firewall and that started creating a few challenges for security teams.

Then COVID struck and migration to the cloud became total for many companies. Teams went remote and SaaS became essential for businesses to keep operating.

SaaS products are incredible empowerment tools, but whilst everybody was shouting about how great SaaS is, IT was scratching their heads thinking.. “ah, this used to be so much easier to control”. And they are right.

SaaS is great, but its management faces several challenges

Every time that an employee subscribes to a new SaaS product, security risks increase. Especially if those apps have excessive permission scopes to other apps that you use. This is the case of a company called 18F, when more than 100 Google Drive folders got exposed to unauthorised users during a five-month period, just because an employee enabled an option at Slack that displayed document previews.

But the problem is that IT doesn’t even know which SaaS to supervise. Because simply, they don’t know which SaaS employees are using.

A Cisco survey of CIOs in large organisations estimated that IT teams believe to be using around 51 SaaS apps on average. But in fact, the same study concludes that 51 is far from reality, with the real number being closer to 730, later confirmed by a Gartner analysts Neil MacDonald and Craig Lawson study in an independent study. That’s right, IT doesn’t have control because they can’t control something if they don’t know it exists.

How can IT manage these risks?

Simple. It is called SaaSOps.

SaaS Operations (SaaSOps) refers to the process of which SaaS is managed and secured through centralised, standardised and automated operations. Ultimately, SaaSOps includes all the processes and systems companies need to enable teams to be successful users of SaaS.

And what should a SaaSOps team exactly do? Here is a list of the top 7 hints for IT teams to tackle these new challenges created by migration to SaaS.

  1. Centralise all SaaS: this should help IT have visibility over their software stack at all time in order to eliminate unknown software. IT cannot manage something that it doesn’t know exists.
  2. Set up an agile approval flow: help IT understand which SaaS employees are subscribing to, without slowing the business down.
  3. Check permissions: in order to reduce cases like the 18F one, it is important that, once IT knows all SaaS teams are using, goes ahead and checks every one of them for possible perilous integrations with critical apps and takes action to reduce exposure risks.
  4. Establish a process in which departing employees lose access to company data instantly. Employees and contractor are the number one cause for data breaches according to RedTeam security, something important to bear in mind for SaaS security.
  5. Automate SaaS processes: from discoverability of SaaS to cancellation of the subscription, this process needs to be automatic and scalable. Otherwise, as your company grows, the on-boarding and off-boarding processes will simply get impossible to control. And the human factor will exponentially have more chances to result in errors.
  6. Integrate SaaS compliance: running compliance manually through all your SaaS tools, without embedding compliance in your approval process is time-consuming and challenging. Make compliance an embedded step in the buying and management processes for SaaS so it’s scalable, efficient and nothing falls between the cracks.
  7. Set up a SaaS audit system: same as compliance. You need to focus on important tasks and eliminate human error on repetitive tasks.

Conclusion

If you are an IT leader, it is important that you realise that you need to take a proactive approach to manage SaaS. Otherwise, no matter what, your team will fail to keep it under control.
A way to do a great job is to empower your team with great tools. A smart way to do so is to sign up to an All-in-One SaaS management platform that suits these very needs listed above.

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This post was inspired by questions provided by people like you. We love receiving new and interesting questions that help us think about data in new ways.  If you found this post interesting and have other questions that you’d like us to help answer, drop us a line at hello@cledara.com.

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