How to start Security in a SaaS Startup?
Security in SaaS Start-up - What, Who, Why, and How
The increasing rate of cyber risks is a worrisome matter for today’s SaaS start-ups and compels them to adopt the most trustworthy security SaaS approaches. Let us understand SaaS Security and its details step by step:
What is it?
SaaS security or security in SaaS refers to having a cloud-native security strategy deployed to safeguard the SaaS services/solutions/products. Generally, a combination of two or many security approaches, it is responsible for end-to-end data security related to customers as well as the organizational assets.
Why is it Essential?
Cloud-based SaaS solutions, with unsatisfiable security measures in place, will not be able to convince enterprises or B2B prospects. After all, big clients are more concerned about security for their or vendor’s SaaS apps and prefer using it for their service delivery.
Making security arrangements for a business should start as early as possible. It’s most effective when it’s done at the development stage. Here is why:
- Gaining customer trust and having a positive brand image is easy to robust cybersecurity practices. SaaS start-ups not even adopting/implementing standard practices will not be able to impress their customers if they care about the data privacy, cyber risks, and digital assets of the customers and will go beyond length to protect them.
- Along with winning customers’ trust, having strong security policies is essential, in order to meet certain compliances. Companies offering solutions/services where customer data is stored and handled are bound to meet certain compliances like PCI, HIPAA, SOC, and GDPR. Without these compliances, a SaaS start-up is not a verified entity and will not be accepted by the industry.
Who Should be Responsible?
Well, one must understand that it’s not a job of a single person. SaaS service providers, end-users (clients/customers), and third-party professionals or franchises need to know and follow the SaaS-related security approaches for better management. Alone, desired results are not earned.
An organization must utilize the shared responsibility model to achieve a greater level of security in the digital ecosphere. For a CSP service-based SaaS solution, you may rely upon a three-way shared security triangle. In this triangle, SaaS solution, CSP, and the end-customers are the 3 edges.
- The CSP safeguards the offered cloud ecosystem used for service/product delivery. Mostly, it includes OS, containers, and servers. As a SaaS solution provider, one is ought to secure the SaaS platforms, solutions, internal networks, data, and linked infrastructures.
- SaaS start-up's responsibility is to determine who you use the CSP security tools and configure them.
- Customers are accountable to protect personal data, systems used for operations, resource access, and other endpoint devices so that there is no unwanted access. With this shared responsibility model, SaaS security goes a step ahead and churns out better results.
How to Ensure SaaS Startup Security?
From a start-up point of view, ensuring SaaS cloud security or overall digital wellness is generally a job of early tech co-founders or security hires. As the start-up grows, there could be a dedicated team to design and monitor the security structure of the start-up. The team must include:
- Network Engineer
- Security Engineer
- Security Device Engineer
Should security in SaaS be a part of marketing strategy?
Unless it’s not a Fintech-related start-up, every SaaS start-up is sales-driven and tries everything possible that is required to enjoy high-end and improved sales.
SaaS start-ups targeting B2C customers may not need to talk about the practices used or implemented for security for SaaS applications, considering that the customers are concerned about data storage or privacy.
As end-users, they are more concerned about how a SaaS start-up handles and stores data. They might not ask direct security questions, inquire about the API security practices adopted by a SaaS start-up, and won’t be too much concerned about SaaS-specific security solutions.
But, SaaS start-ups having B2B or B2B2c dealing need to promote and talk about SaaS security measures adopted as much as possible as such customers are worried about whether or not the solutions are attested, certified, and are delivered with utmost security measures.
Having failures in SaaS solutions, offered by a start-up and consumed by an enterprise, will have major negative outcomes. But, SaaS security holds the same significance for these customers as well.
If you’ve right and adequate direct or security as a service SaaS implementations in place then don’t hesitate to include them in your marketing strategy and bring them into the limelight.
What are the most suitable InfoSec security attestations for SaaS start-ups?
As there are multiple compliances and regulations to be followed, one can get confused and have a tough time deciding which attestation will work best for you. Here are the basic requirements to be met.
- ISO 27001
Having an ISO 27001 certificate is the easiest way to prove excellence in SaaS security without any hassles. This gold standard can be earned with a formal audit. As the core focus of this attestation is on the management system, it’s strongest of all.
- SOC 2 Type 2
US-based SaaS start-up must consider earning SOC 2 Type 2 attestation. Having it by your side means that the SaaS start-up adheres to all the key trust principles of SaaS security.
- OWASP ASVS
The prime focus of a B2C SaaS start-up should be more on the web applications instead of the infrastructure and this is where OWASP ASVS attestation proffer a globally recognized and affirmed web or SaaS application security, testing, and verification framework. A wide range of threat types and their varieties, likely to exist in a SaaS start-up, are explained in OWASP.
- CSA STAR
CSA Star came into being in 2013 by Cloud Security Appliance and has a strong focus on the principle of transparency, standards management, and continual auditing. This attestation provides three assurance levels.
Self-assessment and independent audits are well-established assurance levels while continuous auditing is still in the development stage. This attestation aims to make ISO 27001 attestation stronger than ever.
What are the best SaaS security practices to follow for a SaaS start-up?
Even though SaaS security is an extensive topic and involves multiple aspects, there are certain practices that every security-concerned SaaS start-up should adopt at least.
Before anything else, a SaaS start-up must implement easy yet viable access management practices for the resources, deployed on the cloud and site. There should be effective role-based permission strategies for resources to keep unwanted access and ill–resource usage at bay.
On a very basic level, a SaaS start-up should have effective perimeter network control should be a place so that any ill-intended traffic isn’t able to breach the network security. This practice is also useful to control the in and out network traffic, filter it completely, and block unwanted contents.
VM management practices should be a place as they will keep the used software safe from hidden yet dangerous threats. When software used is updated, free from bugs, and performing greatly, lag, security loopholes, and patching incidents will be on the lower side.
Data protection is something that every SaaS business, young or veteran, is concerned about. Almost every SaaS business data should be encrypted with military-grade encryption to keep the information stored safely. Nothing less than AES 256 Bit encryption is acceptable. Such high-end encryption makes information decoding a tough task for attackers.
Bringing MFA or Multi-factor authentication into action everywhere is a must for SaaS start-ups. This is not a tough task to do and is highly useful to keep the organization's assets safe. It should be applicable to everyone’s email accounts, software, and cloud assets.
Also, make sure that AWS, banking, and source code repository are also backed by the power of MFA. MFA is nothing but clubbing two or more access practices to keep the authorized access at bay.
Most commonly, a login password with OTP is used for MFA.
SaaS start-ups should have an ideal procedure or framework for immediate reporting, investigation, and tracking of the data breaches in the network and system.
The SaaS networks should also be backed by a CDN feature for immediate redundancy to networks and data centers. For start-ups requiring data replication for their crucial data assets, it is essential that you have a reliable disaster recovery plan.
Educate your people about the importance of SaaS security and outcomes if it’s not implemented rightly. Also, as SaaS security can be too daunting for a few, reward and recognition can work wonderfully to promote. Awareness and encouraging the good performers (on this aspect) will lead to fewer threats and fast adoption of the security standards.
A Quick Overview of SaaS Security Risks
SaaS security risks are assorted and can cause multiple nuisances if not addressed properly. Here are a few detrimental security risks that the SaaS businesses may have to worry about:
- Lack of least privilege data access strategy will create end-less hassles when trusted employees go rogue or outsiders could fetch the crucial information.
- Failure to enforce the strong password policy will lead to data theft, successfully brute force attacks, and taking over of accounts.
- The absence of vulnerability patching is like putting your feet on an axe as it will encourage vulnerabilities to cause damage and make the infrastructure weak from the inside.
SaaS start-ups not declaring the security responsibilities in ‘Terms of Service’ or service contract will face serious legal implications when a vulnerability causes damage to CSP or customers. Certain aspects like handling of breach notification, what is handled and what’s not, and liabilities should be clearly stated in the SLA.
V-CISO or Dedicated CISO: Who is better for a SaaS start-up?
CISO or Chief Information Security Officer is a key figure for ensuring end-to-end security in an organization, including a SaaS start-up. When this professional is hired virtually and assists organizations from remote locations, it’s known as vCISO.
CISO will be entirely dedicated to uplifting your business’s safety configurations and will handle various tasks including risk management, cyber operations, and cyber program management. But, it’s a costly affair and can lead to skill shortage as organizational needs modify. Averagely, hiring a committed CISO will cost anywhere between $105,177 and $255,135 which is too much for a start-up.
vCISO is more into project guidance, controlling cyber threats, and handling advisory sort of issues and much-reduced costs. Detailed risk management won’t be handled generally.
As a SaaS start-up is likely to have a basic and easy-to-comprehend security arrangement due to its limited investments, it’s wise to get started with vCISO and then shift to a dedicated CISO later on.
What’s the easy approach to implementing SaaS security solutions for a start-up?
Wallarm is an expert-recommended security platform offering end-to-end and customized solutions at least possible investments. Security approaches like API security Platform, cloud WAF, API access management, API threat management, and many others are at start-up disposable. As solutions are tailored-made and monitored by experts, SaaS start-ups have an opportunity to safeguard organizational data and assets. The platform is capable to protect SaaS solutions deployed in any kind of ecosystem.
Ensuring SaaS security is one of the many crucial aspects to look into for any success-striving start-up. Hope, by reading the above article, you have learned everything about it from our experts. View a related interview on SaaS Startup.