Cloud solutions can boost an organization’s ability to quickly adopt services and reduce the total cost of ownership. That is why chief information officers (CIOs) are looking to software-as-a-service (SaaS) to satisfy the demand for effective and efficient services that won’t break the bank.

Despite the benefits, however, it’s important to consider the security implications of adopting SaaS. The key to a smooth cloud transformation is to use proper security controls when moving a solution to SaaS.

Best Practices for Adopting SaaS

Adopting SaaS does not automatically guarantee the security of the overall infrastructure. It’s important to look at the security controls of the services that need to be protected. You must understand, for example, the specific consequences of an attack against a customer relationship management (CRM) solution. At the same time, you must ensure that your security information and event management (SIEM) solution is able to collect data from this CRM.

It’s also important to manage federated identities, since many SaaS solutions require different types of authentication. Forcing users to enter numerous passwords is not enough to establish a proper culture of security.

IT managers often decide whether to adopt cloud delivery models based on strategic decisions that are out of sync with reality. But if the company decides not to allow its employees to leverage cloud services, it may be too late. Cloud services are already used in enterprise functions — many libraries use application program interfaces (APIs) in the cloud, for example — and employees have been using de facto cloud apps for years.

A Complex Ecosystem

The life cycles of cloud applications must include dynamic security analysis. These applications are part of a complex ecosystem. They can be secure one day and lousy with vulnerabilities the next, depending on the state of that ecosystem.

Focus on installing security controls into the service and ensuring that technologies adopted to implement these controls do not depend on the delivery model. Otherwise, you may be forced to adopt future techniques and business models based not on strategic decisions, but a desire to salvage previous investments. Providing the same security controls for on-premises and cloud services is a key element of a good security strategy.

The SaaS Provider’s Responsibility

Applications are windows through which malicious actors hurl cyberattacks. Therefore, security needs to be part of the development cycle of these apps. Application security should not end with the general availability of a product. SaaS providers need to test their products continuously and respond to vulnerabilities according to the processes and best practices laid out by the security response experts.

Vendors should also provide SaaS on top of very solid infrastructure-as-a-service (IaaS) and platform-as-a-service (PaaS) solutions. Lastly, it’s essential for SaaS providers to comply with regulations on privacy and data management.

Listen to the podcast: Cloud Data Security Trends, Challenges and Best Practices

More from CISO

Bridging the 3.4 Million Workforce Gap in Cybersecurity

As new cybersecurity threats continue to loom, the industry is running short of workers to face them. The 2022 (ISC)2 Cybersecurity Workforce Study identified a 3.4 million worldwide cybersecurity worker gap; the total existing workforce is estimated at 4.7 million. Yet despite adding workers this past year, that gap continued to widen.Nearly 12,000 participants in that study felt that additional staff would have a hugely positive impact on their ability to perform their duties. More hires would boost proper risk…

CEO, CIO or CFO: Who Should Your CISO Report To?

As we move deeper into a digitally dependent future, the growing concern of data breaches and other cyber threats has led to the rise of the Chief Information Security Officer (CISO). This position is essential in almost every company that relies on digital information. They are responsible for developing and implementing strategies to harden the organization's defenses against cyberattacks. However, while many organizations don't question the value of a CISO, there should be more debate over who this important role…

Everyone Wants to Build a Cyber Range: Should You?

In the last few years, IBM X-Force has seen an unprecedented increase in requests to build cyber ranges. By cyber ranges, we mean facilities or online spaces that enable team training and exercises of cyberattack responses. Companies understand the need to drill their plans based on real-world conditions and using real tools, attacks and procedures. What’s driving this increased demand? The increase in remote and hybrid work models emerging from the COVID-19 pandemic has elevated the priority to collaborate and…

Why Quantum Computing Capabilities Are Creating Security Vulnerabilities Today

Quantum computing capabilities are already impacting your organization. While data encryption and operational disruption have long troubled Chief Information Security Officers (CISOs), the threat posed by emerging quantum computing capabilities is far more profound and immediate. Indeed, quantum computing poses an existential risk to the classical encryption protocols that enable virtually all digital transactions. Over the next several years, widespread data encryption mechanisms, such as public-key cryptography (PKC), could become vulnerable. Any classically encrypted communication could be wiretapped and is…