Security leaders are moving into an era of prevention as opposed to detection and response. This is what Software as a Service (SaaS) security posture management (SSPM) is all about.

According to Gartner, end-user spending on SaaS will reach more than $171 billion in 2022. For SaaS providers and businesses looking to maintain the productivity of their hybrid workforces, this is great news. However, for security teams in a large enterprise organization with hundreds of SaaS apps, attaining control over SaaS security settings is critical. This introduces significant challenges that have teams turning to SSPM for relief.

It’s true that SaaS apps come with security features — but making sure each is properly configured falls to the organization's security teams, creating a day-to-day burden that is impossible to handle if done manually. SSPM comes to solve this pain by automating the identification and remediation of SaaS misconfigurations. This can be accomplished without siphoning the security team’s efforts from other critical areas of the business.

Here’s a list of functionalities that are essential to SaaS management:

Breadth of integrations

When outsourcing SaaS management, make sure the SSPM solution being considered can integrate with all or most of the applications the organization already uses and those the firm plans to purchase down the road. As a rule of thumb, start with systems that can accommodate at least 60 integrations.

Depth of coverage for security domains

After integration, the next question is this — how many security domain checks can it assess? Remember, the security team doesn’t have time or familiarity with all the SaaS apps and cannot follow up on thousands of configurations and user permissions on a day-to-day basis. Some of the most prevalent security domains that an SSPM should check are:

  • Identity and access management: Get visibility into the most common attack vectors currently being exploited — these include multi-factor authentication (MFA), single sign-on SSO, third-party user access, domain authentication and legacy authentication protocols.
  • Access control for external users: Ensure that the configurations are set correctly for external users to be verified and trusted. Beyond that, enforce limited access and permissions while still enabling everyone to do their job.
  • Compliance policies, security frameworks and benchmarks: Benchmark against industry standards and best practices.
  • Data leakage protection: Ensure correct configuration to protect against data leakage from any user account.
  • Auditing: This provides digital forensics, controls the level of specificity, and when it comes to regulated industries, it can properly configure logs for certain processes.
  • Privacy control: Allow teams to check the configurations that control visibility between coworkers and service providers.
  • Malware protection: Check if it can enforce configurations that protect against social-engineering attacks (e.g. spoofing, phishing and spam) and prevent client-side attacks.

Continuous monitoring

It’s vital that issues are alerted on the spot and can be remediated quickly. Some key to look for here include:

  • Alerts: Make sure the security team can set alerts to immediately detect any configuration drifts or potential risks.
  • Activity monitoring: Tracking activities of privileged users and those of interest across the organization’s SaaS estate can help simplify forensic and retrospective investigations for cross-platform (e.g. user creation) and platform-specific activities.
  • Posture over time: A timeline view of the SaaS environment can help detect changes and see how the system has evolved.
For a company to effectively compete in a world that is moving faster and is more globally dispersed than ever, SaaS is an essential ingredient to compete and win. But SaaS alone is not enough — it requires a support system that can help eliminate the security risks these offerings bring to an environment.