SaaS users often misunderstand what “cloud-based SaaS application” means, especially if they don’t have a tech background. Additionally, SaaS companies usually try to avoid mentioning the cloud when marketing their application, knowing that many potential clients don’t trust the cloud.
However, a cloud-based SaaS application has the potential to be very secure if built properly. Therefore, to alleviate users’ distrust of the cloud, software developers need to boost and maintain the security of their apps, taking measures that go beyond merely ensuring GDPR compliance. Here are nine additional steps software developers should follow:
1. Use two-factor authentication (2FA)
This method offers better data protection than a password alone. If hackers can break through the first stage by accessing the user ID and the password, they won’t break through the second. With two-factor authentication, users can answer additional questions, receive a code through a text message, or confirm their identity with a fingerprint.
Here is what two-factor authentication looks like in practice. First, a user logs in and receives a notification on their phone. Then they need to confirm the login, and only then will they be able to reaccess the application.
2. Educate your users
According to the latest Gartner research, over 90% of all security breaches will be caused by customers’ lack of knowledge or failing to take the necessary measures to keep their data secure.
However, once there’s a security breach, users typically blame the SaaS provider. Therefore, SaaS providers must protect their business’s image and educate users on the ramifications of neglecting security. This often means preparing a security checklist users can follow.
To help users avoid unauthorized access to their personal data, provide them with the necessary knowledge to identify suspicious emails with malicious software, boost their account security, and more. Not sure where to find helpful resources? Start with your bank; they usually cover the security aspect and educate their users better than any other business. For example, check out how Lloyds Bank is educating its users about security best practices:
You can also take up the same measure of informing your users about messages from hackers and attempts to extort information. For example, you can create a separate page on security measures and link it to your application in a place where users can easily access it.
3. Encrypt your data
Using the unencrypted HTTP protocol in your domain name exposes your data to potential hackers. Instead, use the HTTPS protocol to keep your data encrypted. The former can be described as data “at-rest,” while the latter – “data-in-flight.”
4. Use key vault services
Remove the need for a person to access your sensitive data by switching to a key vault service. With a key vault, all passwords, keys, and certificates will be accessed only by the applications you authorize. In addition, key vault services help prevent the disclosure of sensitive data through an application’s source code.
5. Switch to a robust hosting provider
When looking for a cloud service provider, don’t just look for the one with the lowest price. Look also for a provider that guarantees high availability and offers robust security features such as:
- SSL (Secure Socket Layer) encryption
- DDoS (Distributed Denial of Services) prevention
- Malware detection and removal
- Regular network monitoring
Consider a reputable provider such as AWS or Azure in your research. Also, remember to back up your user data in multiple locations to avoid data loss in the case of a breach.
6. Integrate real-time protection
By integrating real-time protection into your SaaS application, you can better control and protect your user data from exposure. By monitoring data in real-time, you can easily detect attacks by distinguishing them from legitimate queries. This can be done thanks to the built-in logic these tools apply. In addition, using these tools minimizes the threats of SQL injections and cross-site scripting (XSS) attacks.
7. Ensure certificate compliance
To attain specific certificates, such as Payment Card Industry Data Security Standard (PCI DSS) or System and Organization Controls (SOC2) Type II, companies must demonstrate compliance by passing an audit. This entails showing that the data the business processes is stored and transmitted safely. To comply, your company needs to implement robust security measures, such as:
- Protecting cardholder data using a password additional authentication procedures along with locking cabinets and limiting access to the server
- Using a robust antivirus system that’s regularly updated
- Employing organizational measures such as unique IDs for your employees who have access to servers (Employees also need to follow good security practices such as regular password resets)
- Keeping daily system logs in case of a breach
- Creating a security policy document listing your organization’s security measures
8. Public-hosted vs. self-hosted considerations
If you use Amazon or Google, they provide you with a secure infrastructure because they share responsibility for securing their clients’ data. However, if you choose self-hosted deployments, you have to take this onus on yourself—you need to implement safety measures and stick to strict security policies.
Here are a few tips you can follow for better protection:
- Use secure shell (SHH) keys, which are a better alternative to passwords.
- Deploy firewalls to restrict access to private servers and keep access open to public servers
- Implement virtual private cloud (VPC) networks to isolate sensitive information into private networks.
9. Keep an eye on user-level data security
User-level data security is another aspect indispensable to comply with international security standards. With the role-based access control (RBAC), which cloud service providers typically offer, you can define access permission for specific user roles, ensuring only authorized individuals access particular files and data.
Ensuring your SaaS product’s user data is protected isn’t a one-off activity—you have to make it a part of your company culture. Choosing the right SaaS cloud security solution is the first step. The second step entails implementing new security measures, which is a never-ending process you must do regularly to stay ahead of the constantly evolving threat landscape.
By continuously working on your SaaS product security, you will build trust with your customers and users. And over time, as people become more knowledgeable about cloud technologies—and the pain caused by a security breach—being known as a security-focused SaaS provider will give you a clear market advantage.