Identifying Different Threats to Your SaaS System
SaaS can be best described as a fast-moving evolution of certain capabilities which provide innovative features, benefits and services to its users. The success of your SaaS model squarely depends on your ability to provide the service in a highly reliable way, coupled with the most optimal privacy and performance variables, along with security.
Speaking of which, security threats pop up on the radar on a near-every day basis. All internet-based systems generally have a tough time when it comes to keeping their operations protected, given the public access to the software.
Legal client and server systems for example, restrict software access by incorporating VPNs – Virtual Private Networks. To keep your SaaS system secure, efforts must be collaborated between the SaaS operational personnel, development and hosting provider. Apart from these groups, you also need to have external resources testing and auditing your SaaS defense systems.
In short, procedures must be put in place to protect data, detect and prevent breaches, remediate breaches, and reinforce security systems to make it harder for “malicious actors” to penetrate your system.
This article however, does not discuss countermeasures in detail, but rather brings you up to speed on the different types of threats your SaaS system can be vulnerable to.
Categories of SaaS Attacks
Software Attacks – Software Deficiencies, System Software Vulnerabilities
SaaS software flaws can let viruses through – attackers use malware that’s introduced in the system through an API input, mobile device or browser. The system thinks it needs to execute “high security privileges” within the software environment. Cross Site Scripting and SQL Injection are two of the most common methods used to compromise software security.
Third-party software and operating system vulnerabilities are exploited by hackers to gain entry to areas housing SaaS data or even take control of SaaS systems completely.
Physical Access Weaknesses – USB Data Theft, USB Malware
If hackers gain access to computer servers or any PC which has access to secure data, they can introduce viruses or delete sensitive data.
Trust Exploits – Attacks Through APIs, “Fake” Trusted Access
Software and users who have “high trust level” privileges can be targeted by malware. SaaS system software has a high trust level which can be targeted, as described in the “Software Attacks” section above. Several software systems often share similar security and firewall settings and if one system is accessed, data can not only be exposed from that system but also a second one, even if it’s more secure.
When you’re pervasively using APIs in a SaaS system, non-secure ones can easily be used for system exploits. It must be assumed that every access point leading to the system is a gateway for malware, which can also be used to get into computers authorized to have access to SaaS systems. These systems can be accessed through infected computers by using authorized users’ credentials.
Personnel Exploits – Social Engineering, Employees and System Administrators with Too Many Privileges
Personnel with high privileges to accessing secure systems may inadvertently or deliberately compromise systems. Therefore, system administrators’ access to unencrypted data and systems ought to be as limited as possible.
Social engineering is used to access SaaS systems by unauthorized users. This way, security credentials of authorized users can be acquired through social sources which are the gateway to locating authentication information. Unfortunately, when users use the same password on more than one system, the compromised password will allow hackers to access other systems using the very same password.
Site Attacks – Taking Site Control (defacing), Universal Service Denial
Malware which is used to breach into SaaS systems and their corresponding data can also be exploited to prevent the SaaS system from functioning the way it’s supposed to – Distributed Denial of Service. A lack of security lets hackers take over websites so they can “deface” and prevent access altogether to the SAAS system.
APT – Trojan Horses, “Sleeping” Malware or Spyware
Advanced Persistent Threat is considered a dangerous form of malware which penetrates the system through the same method as the one outlined in “personnel exploits” above. Its underlying mechanism involves laying dormant until ‘called into action’.
Such threats are used to steadily and stealthily move sensitive data to unauthorized systems outside of the SaaS sphere and with minimal chances of being discovered.
We’d love to know what you have to say on the subject of identifying threats to SaaS systems. Don’t hesitate to leave your comments below or talk to our mobile dev team directly.