3 Actions if You’re on the Wrong Side of the Cybersecurity Poverty Line

Here are three ways SaaS companies can achieve their security and compliance requirements on a limited budget.

Companies are facing an uncertain economy for the foreseeable future which is increasing scrutiny on tech spending. While the focus is on doing more with less, those who will be hit the hardest are those that fall on the wrong side of the cybersecurity poverty line. Coined by Wendy Nather, the term cybersecurity poverty line is the threshold that divides all organizations into two distinct categories: those that are able to implement essential cybersecurity measures well and those that are unable to due to limited resources, skills, and budget constraints.

There are more than 25,000 SaaS companies and they often fall below the cybersecurity poverty line. These cloud-native SaaS companies, who must secure their data and workloads in the cloud, are looking at enterprise-grade cloud security solutions with sticker shock. Instead of the usual enterprise solutions, focused on the 1% of companies that can afford extra bells and whistles, SaaS companies require solutions that better align with their market and needs. Many solutions, especially agent-based options, are difficult to scale and require additional manpower and training that most SaaS startups will not have.

It’s no secret that security can be a challenge for developers. First, security is often viewed as an added burden that can slow down the development process and make it more difficult to deliver new features and functionality. As a result, developers may not prioritize security as much as other aspects of their work. Also, the constantly evolving nature of security threats and vulnerabilities can make it difficult for developers to keep up with the latest developments and ensure that their systems and software are secure. This can be especially challenging for developers who are not security experts and may not have the necessary knowledge and skills to identify and address potential security risks.

The increasing complexity of modern software systems can make it difficult for developers to ensure that their systems are secure. With so many different components and dependencies, it can be challenging to identify and fix potential security vulnerabilities in a timely and effective manner. Finally, the pressure to deliver new features and functionality quickly can make it tempting for developers to cut corners when it comes to security. This can lead to security vulnerabilities that may not be discovered until it is too late.

The unique cybersecurity challenges faced by SaaS developers today cannot be understated. From the skills gap between what’s needed and what’s available to cost considerations when it comes to investing in quality cybersecurity solutions, not forgetting compliance requirements – there are multiple hurdles that need addressing if these companies are going to ensure their data and workloads remain secure in today’s digital landscape.

Here are three ways SaaS companies can achieve their security and compliance requirements on a limited budget.

Leverage your cloud provider account manager

The company’s cloud service provider is a great resource for startups. AWS in particular offers a variety of programs and even subsidies to startups looking to get various compliance checks and manage their infrastructure with security best practices in mind.

The assigned account manager can connect customers with relevant subject matter experts within their respective organizations. For example, AWS has a well-architected review program that will provide guidance on security and cost optimization. The review process can include free professional services including a detailed technical review. AWS even has preferred service providers that can do “hands-on keyboard” support for a discounted rate or other partners in the marketplace that are hand-picked for startups in order to get continuous comprehensive cloud security coverage, including helping to achieve SOC 2 Type II certification.

Look for solutions designed for cloud environments

SaaS companies can make use of open-source or free security tools and technologies that are widely available. These are cost-effective ways to put in baseline security measures. There are also cloud-based security tools and services which can provide a high level of security for companies who are running in AWS, GCP or Microsoft Azure.

Cloud Native Application Protection Platform (CNAPP) solutions as coined by Gartner are currently trending in the market. These solutions aggregate the cloud security tool requirements, covering multi-faceted areas of the cloud stack to provide a platform that captures security from build stages to runtime. Visibility across a SaaS organization’s cloud stack and tools is essential in tracking security risks and trends, especially as their cloud presence expands and new features and products are added. CNAPP also reduces the need for several point solutions, making it an economical choice. Make sure you analyze if a CNAPP provider enforces feature paywalls or provides the entire solution at an achievable entry-level price.

SaaS startups should also look at the SaaS ecosystem instead of the security industry stalwarts that build for enterprise customers in order to find options that are designed for their unique environment and needs. It is important to select products that can scale and require less hands-on management.

Create a secure development lifecycle

Integrating security practices into the software development process can identify security risks early on, reduce security incidents, and improve software quality. This also leads to cost savings, as addressing these issues early in the development process is typically less expensive than trying to remediate them after the software has been released.

Many SaaS developers are using a DevSecOps process, which emphasizes automation and collaboration between development, security and operations teams. Look for tools offering dynamic remediation, available out of the box. This can not only allow for greater speed and agility in the development process, but it also improves security by making it a shared responsibility across these teams.

Developers have a lot of responsibilities when it comes to ensuring their SaaS products are secure, compliant, and robust enough for users’ needs. By investing in training, cost-effective tools and a secure development process, developers can ensure that the next big thing in SaaS is both functional and secure without breaking the bank.


Vladi Sandler is the Co-founder and CEO of Lightspin, a proactive cloud security platform that protects cloud and Kubernetes environments from unknown risks. Vladi is an avid security entrepreneur with more than 12 years of experience in cybersecurity domains. He established the comprehensive application security training program at Ernst & Young, and initiated the first Automotive Cloud Security team at CYMOTIVE.