By Emily Newton, Editor-in-Chief at Revolutionized Magazine
The software-as-a-service (SaaS) sector provides customers tremendous convenience and cost-saving potential. It’s often much easier for them to sign up for a subscription-based product that does not require expensive hardware upgrades. However, the SaaS industry can interfere with cybersecurity compliance if internet security leaders don’t take the time to verify what SaaS providers do to keep data secure.
Better Cybersecurity Compliance Could Reduce SaaS Configurations
There’s no single cause of SaaS-related security incidents. However, a 2022 survey confirmed misconfiguration is a leading driver of adverse outcomes. More specifically, people from at least 43% of polled organizations indicated they had experienced one or more security incidents because of a SaaS misconfiguration.
Part of the problem could be a lack of the necessary security investments. The same study showed that 81% of businesses increased their spending on critical SaaS applications over the past year. However, only 73% said they had also upped their investments in security tools, and 55% had hired more people for SaaS security roles. Those percentages still confirm that most people made those secondary investments, which is a positive takeaway overall.
However, you can’t ignore the portion of respondents who raised their expenditures on SaaS services without doing the same for cybersecurity investments. Making such decisions could mean companies have significant security gaps, leading to an increased chance of attacks.
When decision-makers focus on cybersecurity compliance for SaaS and all other aspects of their infrastructure, errors that create entry points for cybercriminals are less likely to happen. That’s because people at highly compliant companies often follow checklists and best practices to reduce issues elevating risk.
Remote Work Can Increase the Need for Security Compliance
As many people speculated about the COVID-19 pandemic, everyone has to get used to a new normal. For people who primarily worked from offices, the most significant change often related to creating workspaces at home instead.
A June 2022 McKinsey study found that 58% of Americans could work from home at least once a week. Another takeaway was that 87% of people given the option of flexible work take it. Relatedly, flexible working opportunities were the third-most prioritized thing people sought when looking for employment. However, the increase in remote work is not always good news from a cybersecurity perspective.
Errors could impact compliance, primarily if team members handle credit card processing or other heavily regulated tasks. Even small mistakes could put a company’s cybersecurity at risk of harmful attacks.
It’s also more difficult for companies to maintain SaaS cybersecurity compliance for a remote workforce because IT workers can’t readily supervise which products employees use at home. One study showed 40% of SaaS users have lost data, and 43% use four or more applications — sometimes without the IT department’s knowledge. This dependence on so-called shadow IT can put companies at risk, even if the employees at fault don’t realize the potential ramifications.
People are often the weakest links in cybersecurity protocols. However, if IT departments prioritize SaaS compliance and position it as everyone’s responsibility, individuals could become more aware of how their cybersecurity-related mishaps can create unintended consequences.
Compliance Works as a SaaS Differentiator
You must evaluate numerous aspects when choosing SaaS companies. For example, which features does a product offer? How much does it cost? Is it easy to switch to a different plan or select additional features if a company’s needs change? However, given that cybersecurity is a top-of-mind concern among potential customers, SaaS companies could use compliance as a selling point.
One possibility is for SaaS companies to get voluntary compliance called Service Organization Control 2. It signifies an auditor verified a company has documented and demonstrated its commitment to keeping customer information safe.
When a company leader vets a particular SaaS company, the topic of data security will almost certainly arise in the conversation. Decision-makers appreciate when companies show compliance with recognized standards or frameworks.
When people face the daunting task of choosing between several SaaS products or companies, evidence of cybersecurity compliance can help them narrow the list of prospects and feel good about their ultimate selection. Many SaaS companies do not go through the steps of getting compliant, but things change once leaders recognize the need to stand out in the marketplace. Compliance is not the only thing necessary for a company to gain traction in an ultra-competitive sector, but it can undoubtedly help.
More SaaS Companies Taking a Shift-Left Approach
Estimates suggest worldwide end-user spending on SaaS services will reach $208 billion in 2023, up from $176.62 billion in 2022. Elsewhere, a 2021 survey of IT professionals revealed cybersecurity and data protection were among their most pressing challenges. Additionally, 61% of those polled said improving security measures was the highest priority.
More leaders at SaaS companies realize they must take proactive measures to ensure the security of their offerings. Otherwise, they’ll find it challenging to gain marketplace traction and convince potential customers that what they provide can align with cybersecurity compliance.
One way SaaS companies improve their security posture is by adopting a shift-left approach from DevSecOps to SecDevOps. One of the outcomes of this change is that cyber-risk assessments and mitigation efforts happen throughout the development process.
Company representatives can then become aware of and fix risks continually, reducing the chances that some vulnerabilities get overlooked. In contrast, DevSecOps generally involves testing a product to identify security vulnerabilities only after the development phase finishes.
If SaaS decision-makers want to highlight the development team’s commitment to security, one possibility is to describe how they apply the mindset across departments and team members. Doing so could help potential customers understand how working with a particular SaaS company will not erode cybersecurity compliance but strengthen it.
Becoming More Cyber-Compliant Matters
Whether cybersecurity compliance concerns a SaaS provider or a product user, people need to consider following a well-known and respected framework for internet security. Then, the likelihood of cyberattacks and vulnerabilities can decrease, and people should experience fewer SaaS-related security issues overall.
Emily Newton is the Editor-in-Chief at Revolutionized Magazine. A regular contributor to Brilliance Security Magazine, she has over four years of experience writing articles in the industrial sector.