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Updated: Feb 26, 2024   |   Lauren Koppelman

What is SaaS security posture management (SSPM)?

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Many companies are taking advantage of the benefits of the software-as-a-service (SaaS) offerings from cloud service providers (CSPs). Organizations store sensitive and high-value data in SaaS applications, making adequate threat protection in the cloud ecosystem imperative.  

Keeping SaaS data safe requires businesses to adopt a robust SaaS security posture management policy and implement it effectively.

In this article: 

Wh‎at is SaaS security posture?

Cloud graphic with a padlock icon, cloud security/SaaS security posture concept

SaaS security posture refers to the ways an organization handles the security of its SaaS applications and the data those apps store and process. It is typically composed of multiple procedures, policies, and practices designed to work together to protect SaaS apps from threats. 

Many of the cloud security techniques used to protect SaaS data are similar to those required to secure traditional data assets.

The following are some of the key components of a SaaS security posture.

  • Data encryption - SaaS data needs to be encrypted at rest and in transit to safeguard it in the event of unauthorized access or data exfiltration.
  • Strict access controls - Access controls can be configured to prevent unauthorized access to the SaaS app or to certain data. Only authorized personnel with a business justification should have access to sensitive information.
  • Strong identity and authentication management (IAM) - Robust IAM procedures, such as multi-factor authentication, need to be used to protect SaaS applications from the dangers of compromised login credentials.
  • SaaS security configuration - Customers need to understand their role in ensuring secure configuration of SaaS applications, including properly configured security settings.
  • System monitoring and logging - Monitoring and logging is important to gain visibility into the environment and identify abnormal behavior or unauthorized intrusion that pose a potential security threat.
  • Incident response planning - Organizations need to have plans in place to address security incidents affecting their SaaS applications.
  • Data governance - Procedures need to be in place to govern the use, sharing, and storage of SaaS data. An example is a data handling policy to strictly control the circumstances under which data can be used by authorized individuals.
  • User training - User training is an essential part of SaaS security posture. Everyone needs to understand their role in protecting SaaS data and be trained to avoid phishing and other social engineering attacks.
  • Regulatory compliance - Regulated data stored and processed by SaaS applications needs to comply with regulatory standards.

Wh‎y organizations need SaaS security posture management

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‎Companies need to implement an effective SSPM solution to counter the risks to SaaS applications and data by threat actors. The use of SaaS apps to store and process business-critical information makes them attractive targets for data exfiltration and other cyber attacks

Organizations therefore need to take the security of SaaS applications seriously and manage all elements of their cloud security posture or risk being victimized by malicious actors.

Cloud applications are widely used to support a mobile workforce. Accessing company IT resources from home or other remote locations introduces additional security concerns, raising the stakes by expanding the attack surface and presenting more targets for malicious threat actors. It also increases the possibility of accidental data handling errors resulting in data leaks.

Threats often take the form of malicious external entities. They can also manifest themselves as malicious or accidental insider threats, which can complicate effectively implementing SSPM. Employing advanced technology like a data loss prevention platform can be instrumental in managing SaaS security posture.

Co‎mponents of SaaS security posture management 


‎Managing an organization’s SaaS posture requires a comprehensive approach, incorporating multiple technological solutions and administrative best practices. 

For example, the following elements are crucial for effective SSPM:

  • Visibility - Organizations need to have visibility into all SaaS data to manage its security. Achieving this visibility can be challenging due to potential shadow IT where employees are using unapproved SaaS applications for business purposes.
  • Risk assessment - It is important to assess security risks and vulnerabilities that may impact the cloud environment. This should be a regular practice with any findings addressed by making the necessary modifications to security measures.
  • Monitoring and threat detection - Monitoring is required to identify external threats and ensure the appropriate use of SaaS data. Endpoint threat detection and response (EDR) tools may be valuable in mitigating the risks of remote workers.
  • Compliance management - Regulated data requires additional management to maintain compliance with standards such as GDPR or PCI-DSS. Failure to consider this can lead to substantial financial and legal penalties.
  • Policy enforcement - Policies regarding access, authorization, and data handling for SaaS applications need to be enforced using automated methods and tools. This practice safeguards sensitive information from deliberate and unintentional misuse.
  • Training - Support for ongoing user training is essential for a strong security posture. Users need to be updated regularly on emerging tactics used by external threat actors. They can also benefit from training that emphasizes the correct use of SaaS data.

Ke‎y considerations in selecting an effective SaaS security posture management solution

SSPM tools assess user permission settings, compliance, and configuration of SaaS applications, ensuring their effectiveness and adherence to standards. When selecting an SSPM solution, there are several important factors to consider.

One important consideration is application integrations, which refers to the ability of the solution to seamlessly integrate with all of the SaaS applications the organization uses. This ensures that the solution can provide full coverage of relevant features and editions and monitor the many SaaS interconnections to detect and prevent data exfiltration.

Another important aspect to consider is device posture management. An effective SSPM solution should provide visibility into the security posture of each device used to access SaaS applications. This includes identifying security risks such as outdated software or missing security patches.

In addition to application integrations and device posture management, the checklist for selecting an SSPM solution should also include remediation and continuous monitoring. The solution should be capable of identifying a wide range of security issues, including misconfigurations, vulnerabilities, and potential compliance risks.

An effective SSPM tool should provide automated remediation for common issues or detailed guidance for manual remediation of complex issues. Continuous monitoring is essential to ensure that any new security risks or vulnerabilities are promptly identified and addressed.

These solutions provide a birds-eye view of vital security information in a central dashboard and enable security teams to combat threats and adjust the organization's security posture without disrupting users or business operations.

Ho‎w data loss prevention contributes to effective SSPM

SaaS data loss prevention (DLP) solutions can be an integral part of an effective SSPM initiative, as the software can automatically mitigate SaaS security risks by enforcing organizational data handling policies. A major benefit of incorporating a DLP solution into your SSPM is that the software addresses both accidental data leaks and deliberate, malicious data breaches.

The Reveal Platform by Next is an advanced cloud-native and multi-tenant DLP platform designed to provide immediate visibility into data resources. Next-gen agents deliver machine learning to the endpoint and identify anomalous user behavior that can indicate security policy violations.

The tool also offers user training at the point of risk, with informative messages that advise the individual regarding policy violations as it restricts prohibited activity.

Reveal addresses multiple aspects of SSPM including automating policy enforcement and providing user training that emphasizes the safe use of SaaS data. Schedule a demo today and see how Reveal can improve your SaaS security posture management.

Fr‎equently asked questions

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‎Doesn’t the cloud vendor handle SaaS security?

The responsibility for ensuring the security of the SaaS applications is shared by the cloud vendor and the customer. Cloud service providers are responsible for securing the application itself and the infrastructure components it uses. The customer is responsible for protecting their data by ensuring all elements of their SaaS security posture are managed efficiently.

Why is user training important in SaaS security posture management?

User training is important in SaaS security posture management to ensure everyone understands how business data can be used safely and securely. Training can take various forms that complement each other and contribute to a more security-conscious workforce. Examples include training focused on correct data handling and education regarding new types of cyberattacks.

What is Shadow IT and why is it dangerous?

Shadow IT is the use of unauthorized cloud applications by employees to perform some of their job-related activities. These applications may not be configured correctly or be subjected to the same level of security as approved solutions. As such, shadow IT apps can be used by malicious insiders to exfiltrate valuable company data.


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