Software-as-a-service (SaaS) providers have freed users from software and hardware management while taking care of the system’s security. But can we rest assured of a vendor’s approach to cybersecurity?

Software-as-a-Service (SaaS) providers have freed users from software and hardware management while taking care of the system’s security. But can we rest assured of a vendor’s approach to cybersecurity?

Some Internet users may be unaware that they are running software as a service (SaaS). SaaS providers offer computing services to customers over the Internet, such as email, customer relationship management, intranet collaboration and document sharing, databases and other services. The provider runs applications for end customers on its servers or those of other SaaS providers or even client computers.

It may be impossible to protect your data from someone who has installed on your device a device driver that can capture everything that goes on inside that computer. These drivers may come preinstalled on the operating system or on some other popular program. They can be installed by a rogue employee or a hacker who accesses your computer over a wireless network or by some other means.

There are defenses against these threats, however. It is possible to configure the system to prohibit the running of devices drivers on startup and thus thwart hackers, but this will make some functionality unavailable, such as device-manager features in operating systems. There are even applications that can block users from starting certain programs at startup, but not all of them work reliably.

App and Data Access Leak

Using cloud-based applications that aren’t a part of an organization’s infrastructure entails the risk of having individuals without permission use an application and access its data, thereby gaining access to both.

In some cases, users of a cloud-based application may not be aware that they are using an application from the cloud. All applications can be installed locally. For example, Gmail is installed on client computers by default, but it also has functionality that allows users to access their email over the Internet, thereby making it a SaaS application.

One way to protect against this type of threat is to use different passwords for different systems that contain sensitive data, so if one system gets compromised, other systems won’t be affected.

Data Breach

A data breach – when data is exposed to unauthorized third parties – can threaten them both on=premises and SaaS solutions.

Data breaches are the most common type of incident. They are often caused by an attack that gives attackers access to system resources, either because security mechanisms have failed, or because the attackers have exploited weak passwords, unauthorized point-of-sale (POS) terminal access or other vulnerabilities that can be fixed.

Threats to cloud-based systems are growing in number because many SaaS providers offer free versions of popular programs; these versions attract intruders who attempt to use users’ cloud services for malicious purposes.

Access From Unsecured Networks

One of the benefits of SaaS products is that people can access them from anywhere if their device is connected to the internet: at home, at a coffee shop, in a hotel suite by the sea – you name it.

The implications of this for security are potentially devastating. For example, in any location with a wireless network, it is possible for hackers to gain access and steal sensitive data in the cloud.

What you can do to protect yourself is to use token-based authentication services when accessing public wireless networks, such as WPA2 Enterprise. This encrypts each packet transmitted by the device and generates a unique key that is used only once so that the key cannot be intercepted.

Uncertainty of Where Data is Stored Geographically

SaaS customers must know where their data resides to comply with local data regulations and/or ensure that their data is stored and processed in a specific region or country.

This is a growing cause for concern as cloud computing becomes more popular. People have to know where their private data is being stored, and they have to have the assurance that the local government or other entities don’t have access to it without their knowledge.

The answer depends on the specific situation – there are no black-and-white answers about who has jurisdiction over data in a cloud environment. A good example of this is what happened recently when the U.S.

Final Thoughts

The SaaS software delivery model allows companies to improve their operations with cutting-edge solutions while not maintaining or updating software and hardware. However, this model also presents security threats that cannot be ignored.

When selecting any SaaS vendor, ensure that its security policy aligns with your policies for data privacy and protection. Remember to ask questions about the way in which your data is protected – the answers could make the difference between protecting sensitive information and having it fall into the wrong hands.

Interested in learning more about other software that could benefit a business? ERP – How Businesses Can Best Implement Them discusses how an ERP can be best implemented within a business.

SaaSIf you would like TSVMap™ to assist your business with assessing your essential systems and applying the TSVMap methodology to ERP SystemsMRP SystemsCyber SecurityIT StructureWeb ApplicationsBusiness Operations, and Automation, please contact us at 864-991-5656 or