5 Ways to Mitigate SaaS App Risk

5 Ways to Mitigate SaaS App Risk

The popularity of SaaS apps has skyrocketed, with users having tens of thousands of options from both reputable companies and private developers. Many of these apps, however, contain vulnerabilities or suffer from complex misconfigurations, turning them into a potential Achilles heel for supply chain attacks.

Recent supply chain attacks have targeted well-established software providers, such as SolarWinds Orion Platform, Kaseya VSA, GitHub, and Viasat KA-SAT. These incidents demonstrate the severity of the SaaS app issue and highlight the need for organizations to gain granular control over their SaaS app ecosystem.

Decreasing the Risk

But how do they do that, and what are the risks? Here are five steps to mitigate SaaS app risk:

1. Review permissions and understand the scope of access being sought. When IT teams install applications, they must pay attention to each and every token, as well as what permissions are being asked for in order to understand their SaaS environment and determine potential risks.

Teams should also assess install privileges and evaluate the authorship of the application to determine if it comes from a trusted source.

2. Follow the principle of Least Privilege when granting permissions to SaaS applications. This principle revolves around providing users or entities with only the minimum level of access necessary to perform their intended tasks and nothing more.

By adhering to this principle, organizations can limit the potential damage in case of a security breach or unauthorized access. It ensures that users are granted access to specific resources and functions within the SaaS application based on their roles and responsibilities, reducing the risk of accidental or intentional misuse of sensitive data.

3. Create a Software Bill of Materials (SBOM) to manage risk associated with SaaS applications. Two types of SBOMs are the most relevant when it comes to managing risks associated with SaaS applications.

Deployed. SBOM provides an inventory of software that is present on a system. This may be an assembly of other SBOMs that combines analysis of configuration options, and examination of execution behavior in a (potentially simulated) deployment environment.

Runtime. SBOM generated through instrumenting the system running the software, to capture only components present in the system, as well as external call-outs or dynamically loaded components.

4. Ensure continuous monitoring by cloud environment administrators. Admins can continuously monitor cloud environments using various tools and strategies to ensure the security, performance, and availability of their resources.

One crucial approach is leveraging cloud-native monitoring services provided by cloud service providers, which offer real-time insights into system health and performance metrics.

Additionally, admins can implement third-party monitoring solutions that offer more advanced features and cross-platform compatibility.

Setting up alerts and notifications based on predefined thresholds enables admins to be immediately notified of any anomalies or potential issues. Regularly reviewing logs and audit trails helps detect suspicious activities or security breaches.

5. Check how many apps are registered to at-home or private developers. At-home environments are more susceptible to compromise due to a weak—or no—security policy.