B2B organizations are increasingly selecting SaaS for features like versatility and easy accessibility. Apart from that B2B SaaS comes with multiple benefits like ease of data storage, flexibility to access data and services anytime, anywhere, and a robust infrastructure for mission-critical business applications. Although B2B SaaS advantages are many, customers also mull over potential security risks that are associated with this service model.
The blog discusses the top B2B SaaS security concerns to address before on-boarding the SaaS train:
B2B SaaS customers are always concerned about how their data will be stored and secured when they hire a SaaS vendor for cloud-based storage. Fear of losing control over their sensitive data, potential dissemination, modification or deletion, unauthorized access, data leaks are the top concerns for a B2B customer.
Before hiring a SaaS provider, customers should discuss security policies, access procedures, encryption protocols, and risk management plan before signing the dotted line.
SaaS providers are usually secretive about their security procedures and policies, as divulging these details might compromise the security. Though it is a legitimate argument by SaaS vendors, customers have a right to demand information on how their data and applications are being stored.
SaaS providers and customers should negotiate on in-person pieces of evidence, walk-through, and audits to build confidence. This agreement may cover:
As SaaS infrastructure is multi-tenanted, customer data segregation is another concern. There must be clear data segregation of different customers, else unauthorized access could result in the case of a data breach.
There must be compartmentalization of individual customer data on the entire stack, right from application to storage.
For convenience and flexibility for the users to access data from any location, a cloud-based software will transfer data to the data centre nearest to the client location. And most SaaS providers do not share their servers’ locations. So, if you are travelling, you may never know where your sensitive data is located.
Also, some countries have regulations (e.g. FISMA) that customers need to keep sensitive data within the country. Virtualized systems, data, and virtual machines may dynamically move across locations for load balancing etc.
Not many SaaS providers provide an in-country guarantee which is a concern as it may violate regulatory requirements.
A significant B2B SaaS advantage of any time, anywhere access to business applications also has an underlying security concern. Typically, employees, access business data using their smart devices or laptops in public or open networks. Some users may completely disregard security policies and access business applications from a shared or an unsecured device.
Open networks and the proliferation of smart devices have made the endpoints insecure, which exposes sensitive business data and applications to expose to threats, as they are no longer within a controlled periphery.
Enterprises that make use of SaaS must control connectivity and access by:
Many SaaS providers integrate third-party technologies with their platforms for advanced role-based access controls for their customers. There are numerous concerns with this practice:
There is a need to build comprehensive industry standards for identity management services and service provisioning tools.
Presently there are no established cloud security standards. Some providers complete audits like SAS 70 or ISO 27001. Though they are a good starting point, SaaS vendors and customers must work towards establishing protocols to address emerging risks, control vulnerabilities, and implement updated security measures.
B2B SaaS comes with its own set of advantages and challenges. With the right infrastructure, robust policies and openly communicating and addressing issues can help thwart threats to sensitive data and applications. Both the clients and vendors should get together to identify security issues, deploy relevant security controls, perform regular audits and reviews, and implement robust controls like encryption, MDM solutions, EMM etc. for optimally utilizing SaaS.
Vandita is a passionate writer and IT enthusiast. By profession, she is a Computer Lecturer at the University of Delhi and has previously worked as a Software Engineer with Aricent Technologies.