Latest Trends in SaaS Security: A Comprehensive Outlook for 2023

Software-as-a-Service (SaaS) has become an increasingly prevalent delivery model for software applications, offering a range of benefits such as scalability, cost-effectiveness, and ease of deployment. Under the BetterCloud report, as of 2023, SaaS applications account for over 70% of total software in bigger companies. And in 2025, this figure is expected to hit 85%. 

However, with the growing reliance on SaaS solutions and rapid evolution in this sector, the importance of security has also risen significantly. Organizations are now more concerned about protecting their sensitive data and ensuring the privacy and integrity of their SaaS applications.

iGMS, a short-term rental software company, stands out as a prime example of a secure SaaS experience. By prioritizing user data security through robust encryption, secure access controls, and compliance with industry standards like GDPR, iGMS ensures the utmost protection. 

Security trends in the area are defined by emerging concerns, threats, and risks such as cyber attacks, data breaches, malware permeation, misconfiguration, etc. In this article, we’ll outline SaaS security points of focus that prevail in 2023.

1. Multi-Factor Authentification

Given the number of SaaS apps organizations use and the fact that it will keep growing, multi-factor authentication (MFA) is crucial for maintaining a higher level of security of Software as a Service (SaaS) platforms. It provides an additional layer of protection beyond the traditional username and password combination, making unauthorized access to sensitive data and services much more difficult.

MFA requires users to provide several forms of authentication, typically combining something they know (password), something they have (a physical token or a mobile device), or something they are (biometric data).

Notably, many industries, such as healthcare and finance, even have strict regulatory requirements for data security. MFA is often a mandatory or strongly recommended security measure in these sectors to shield sensitive customer information and ensure compliance with regulations like HIPAA or PCI-DSS. 

As threats to data and online services continue to evolve, MFA serves as a critical defense mechanism to protect sensitive information and maintain user trust and loyalty. It greatly contributes to business continuity by minimizing the impact of security incidents, preventing potential downtime, and safeguarding critical systems and information.

2. Zero Trust Approach

It’s a security framework that prioritizes the principle of not automatically trusting any user or device, regardless of their location or network. It assumes that both internal and external networks are untrusted, and instead focuses on verifying and authorizing every access request made to SaaS applications

A zero-trust security environment steps away from the traditional approach of assuming trust based on network location (e.g., within the corporate network). And any access request is subject to strict authentication and continuous monitoring. The methods used within this approach include

  • Least privilege access is granted on a need-to-know basis, limiting exposure to sensitive data;
  • Micro-segmentation is employed to isolate and compartmentalize different parts of the SaaS environment and restrict lateral movement within the network;
  • Encryption and data protection is implemented for data both at rest and in transit. It covers such data protection mechanisms as data loss prevention (DLP) and encryption key management;
  • Permanent authorization and dynamic access controls provide network access based on factors like user behavior, device health, and contextual information;
  • Secure access service edge (SASE) architecture, which combines networking and security capabilities in a unified cloud-based solution, is sussed to enable consistent policy enforcement and protection across all SaaS applications and user access points.

By adopting the zero-trust approach, organizations can enhance their security posture and build a more robust and adaptive security framework that aligns with the evolving threat landscape and the increasing reliance on cloud-based applications.

3. Secure DevOps

Secure DevOps integrates security into the software development and deployment lifecycle. SaaS providers adopt security practices such as secure coding, vulnerability scanning, security testing, and automation of security controls. By implementing security early in the development process, vulnerabilities can be identified and remediated faster, reducing the risk of security incidents in production.

These practices will help organizations build and deliver secure SaaS apps or SaaS startup websites.

Regular security awareness programs and training sessions will help educate developers, operations teams, and other stakeholders about coding practices, security policies, and emerging threats.

This fosters trust, protects sensitive data, and mitigates security risks throughout the software development process.

4. Cloud Access Security Brokers (CASBs)

CASBs are security solutions designed to protect data and applications in Software-as-a-Service environments. CASBs act as intermediaries between users and SaaS providers, providing a range of security controls and policies to ensure data confidentiality, integrity, and availability. CASBs’ key functions in the context of cloud-based security.

  • Apps visibility through insights into user activity, data flows, and usage patterns, allowing administrators to identify potential risks and take appropriate action;
  • Data loss prevention through the implementation of policies such as encryption, access controls, and content inspection to detect and block the transmission of sensitive information;
  • Access control and identity management by enabling single sign-on (SSO), multi-factor authentication (MFA), and role-based access controls (RBAC) to ensure that only authorized users can access sensitive data;
  • Advanced threat protection includes malware detection, anti-phishing measures, and real-time threat intelligence to identify and block malicious activities;
  • Auditing and activity monitoring to trace and analyze user behavior, data transfers, and access attempts to detect anomalies, policy violations, or suspicious activities.

CASBs play a vital role in securing SaaS environments by providing a centralized security framework, enabling organizations to extend their security policies and controls to the cloud, and ensuring the protection of sensitive data and applications.

5. Threat Intelligence and Behavior Analytics

These practices are crucial components of security measures for SaaS platforms. They work together to enhance the security posture of SaaS applications and protect against various cyber threats. 

Thus, threat intelligence is used to identify and understand the specific threats that target SaaS environments and their users. It helps security teams stay informed about emerging risks, zero-day vulnerabilities, malware campaigns, phishing attacks, and other malicious activities. By using threat intelligence, SaaS providers can proactively detect, prevent, and respond to potential security incidents, thus minimizing the impact on their customers’ data and services.

Behavior analytics, on the other hand, focuses on understanding the typical usage patterns and behaviors of SaaS application users. It traces deviations that might suggest unauthorized access, data exfiltration, privilege escalation, or other suspicious activities. By continuously monitoring user behavior and applying analytics algorithms, SaaS providers can identify and respond to potential security incidents in real time, mitigating the risk of data breaches and unauthorized access.

6. The Use of Emerging Tech

There are tons of AI tools for SaaS marketing purposes. Artificial Intelligence (AI), Machine Learning (ML), and blockchain are widely implemented in business and revolutionize multiple business processes and sectors. SaaS is no exception in this concern. 

But beyond that, AI and ML are great for threat and anomaly detection to identify malicious activity and new attack patterns by analyzing large-scale security data sets. The tech can also be used to enhance authentication methods and implement intelligent access controls. 

In the meantime, blockchain algorithms are good for immutable audit trails to ensure transparency and accountability, enabling effective incident response, compliance auditing, and forensic investigations. Blockchain-based smart contracts and encryption techniques allow for secure data sharing and privacy, reducing the risk of a single point of failure. 

To Sum Up

As the tech evolves and advances, security risks and threats upgrade and become more sophisticated, complex, and harder to detect as well. However, a comprehensive security strategy developed in line with business needs and embracing the latest trends in the area, operational processes, and user awareness will help organizations mitigate risks and ensure the secure use of SaaS applications.  

Latest Trends in SaaS Security: A Comprehensive Outlook for 2023 was last updated April 2nd, 2024 by Nick Tyne