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What is SSPM? SaaS Security Posture Management

Reco Security Experts
December 6, 2023
6 min read

What is SaaS Security Posture Management (SSPM)?

SaaS Security Posture Management (SSPM) is an automated security tool. It is designed to monitor and mitigate security risks within software-as-a-service (SaaS) applications. It identifies issues like misconfigurations, unnecessary user accounts, excessive permissions, and compliance risks. In this way, it addresses all crucial aspects of cloud security.

SSPM zeroes in on individual SaaS applications. This targeted focus is especially beneficial for businesses heavily reliant on SaaS. It offers tailored security solutions that may prove more valuable than the broader perspective that CSPM provides.

How Does SSPM Work?

SSPM modulates a holistic approach to address SaaS security challenges. On a high level, SSPM operates to deliver deep analysis and provides detailed information on the following factors:

  • Configuration Level Checks: SSPM performs dynamic and automated checks on access configurations by analyzing code bases and datasets to validate them against existing security standards. In turn, configuration drifts and misconfigurations can be monitored and managed at the application, system, and code levels.
  • Access/Privilege Level Checks: SSPM’s extensive features allow user access and privileges to be reviewed at the tenant level (user/resource) and handled gracefully.
  • Compliance Level Checks: SSPM performs in-depth checks and validations over security vulnerabilities and compliance gaps for easy tracking with remediations.

Why Do Organizations Need SSPM?

SaaS boosts productivity and operational efficiency at an organizational level. It delivers value with real-time actionable insights at an astonishing pace. Most SaaS solutions are narrowed down by nature, targeting to address problem-specific needs. Therefore, enterprises often have to onboard multiple SaaS services to cater to their multidimensional needs.

The adoption of multiple SaaS solutions poses challenges and risks to management and security. SaaS security posture management (SSPM) tools offer streamlined solutions for enterprise-level SaaS challenges. Enterprises handling multiple SaaS solutions need SSPM tools for the following reasons:

  • To enforce, manage, and monitor granular access control mechanisms across a diverse SaaS stack.
  • To ensure custom security and compliance adherence on every SaaS tool by default.
  • To have a secure administrative layer to track, monitor, and manage traffic with extreme efficiency.
  • To enable a single platform to act as the bridge between SaaS applications and downstream consumers. The platform should handle data securely and use modular security practices.
  • To create an interface that is easy to connect with and query for regulatory standards. It should also enable automated custom implementations across SaaS solutions and much more.

How SSPM Differs From Other Tools

SSPM fills a specific gap in cloud security. It provides deep visibility and more precise control over the security posture of your SaaS applications. It complements other tools like CSPM, CASBs, and traditional security solutions by offering a specialized layer of protection tailored to the unique risks and challenges of SaaS environments.

SSPM vs CSPM vs CASB vs DLP
Features CSPM CASB DLP SSPM
Governance and Compliance
Security Policies for Cloud Usage Management
Sensitive Data Protection and Data Leakage Avoidance
SaaS Protection and Management
Misconfiguration and Configuration Drift Avoidance
Automated Monitoring and Alerting

SSPM vs. CSPM

In the absence of SaaS apps, enterprises rely on in-house solutions. Securing the custom implementation falls under internal teams. The internal teams generally use Cloud Security Posture Management (CSPM). CSPM safeguards the resources and assets of cloud applications hosted on public cloud environments.

Read more about SSPM vs CSPM

SSPM vs. CASB

SaaS apps generally rely on cloud resources to operate at high capacity. This is a common pattern. Third-party SaaS apps can jeopardize the security of cloud services if robust security measures are not implemented. Cloud Access Security Brokers (CASB) is an intermediary between SaaS apps and cloud infrastructure to monitor and secure data flow.

Read more about SSPM vs CASB

SSPM vs. DLP

Data needs classification, tagging, and encryption at every stage. This is to secure data transit between storage and services. Also, it allows usage monitoring and prevents data theft or unauthorized exposures. Data loss protection (DLP) aims at securing data through policy-based identification and encryption. Unlike SSPM, DLP only focuses on data security.

SaaS Security Challenges

SaaS services significantly enhance productivity and efficiency. However, they also present a range of challenges. They can range from common and minor to severe and potentially damaging scales. Following are some of the key SaaS-centric security challenges:

  • Onboarding Challenges: New SaaS application onboarding onto the internal stack demands in-depth assessments. The data exposure, access level permissions, third-party controls, and many other factors should be assessed for security and risk.
  • Manual Efforts: Applying feature-level compliance and access control policies requires custom scripts with manual processes. These processes should be enabled with detailed logging capabilities and tested extensively for reliability and correctness. New SaaS services need repetition of efforts with extra time and resource investment.
  • Privilege Handling Challenges: Enabling user and application-level access becomes challenging when sensitive data and PII are involved. Extra measures should be taken at every level to ensure the information is not being exposed.
  • Need for Extra Validation: Several testing strategies should be applied when applying custom scripts on SaaS services. Tests should ensure that misconfigurations, secrets, or other vulnerabilities are not exposing ports or allowing backdoor accesses.
  • Limited Monitoring Capabilities: SaaS applications need in-depth monitoring of data usage patterns, along with incoming and outgoing request analysis.

SaaS Security Best Practices

Making security best practices a part of everyday operations helps strengthen SaaS security. It also keeps SaaS environments safe from risky setups and data leaks. Here are some things to keep in mind:

  • User Access Management: Put the least privilege principles and access controls in place while enabling an extra protection layer through multi-factor authentication.
  • Configuration Management: Setting up pipelines to check infrastructure and integrating scripts into version control systems for secure configurations.
  • SaaS App Monitoring: Enabling extensive capabilities by leveraging monitoring as code and infrastructure as code for automated continuous monitoring and remediation. This eliminates manual efforts by security teams.

Read more about SaaS Security Best Practices

SSPM Features and Capabilities

SSPM tools are designed by bringing together standard features to tackle typical security issues that come up while handling different SaaS applications. These tools are excellent for filling gaps in SaaS security. They have the following features and capabilities:

  • Onboarding Simplicity: Easy onboarding and integration of new SaaS with existing downstream solutions.
  • Robust Security: Extensive security policies and access/configuration management across SaaS services with detailed logging for posture management.
  • Governance: Extensive governance for access and identity management.
  • Reactive Features: Advanced detection and response mechanisms of access and security controls.
  • Advanced Monitoring: Continuous monitoring for security vulnerabilities, bottlenecks, and threats with automated remediation.

Key Benefits of SSPM

SSPM brings a host of benefits to organizations navigating the complex landscape of SaaS applications. It intends to evade common SaaS security challenges and incentivize security posture. Several key benefits of SSPM include:

  • Centralized Dashboard: A unified and centralized dashboard capable of performing risk assessment and policy enforcement at scale.
  • Enhanced Security: Capability to integrate and practice DevSecOps methodologies with customizable security implementations.
  • Simplifies Compliance Management: Adherence to compliance and security policies can be simplified.
  • Identifies Excessive Permissions Settings: Identification of ACLs and permission levels at various stages and environments can be easily configured.
  • Prevents Cloud Misconfigurations: Configuration drifts and misconfigurations through inefficient audits can be prevented.
  • Automated Functionalities: Eliminates static efforts of handling individual SaaS tools. It also offers administrative capabilities to streamline third-party dependencies.

SSPM Use Cases

For enterprises looking to enhance and solidify SaaS security requirements through proactive and flexible security measures, SSPM is the solution. External attacks and internal security vulnerabilities can be isolated and eliminated in real-time using SSPM’s capabilities. Let’s explore some of SSPM’s use cases:

Posture Management

SSPM makes sure SaaS security follows the same rules as the organization. It checks both good and bad practices and helps evaluate, monitor, and improve security across all SaaS tools. With SSPM, it's easier to see changes and compare them to the organization's rules. This makes security better overall.

Continuous Compliance

SSPM plays a crucial role in helping businesses regularly check their SaaS services' security. By proactively finding and fixing any issues related to following rules and regulations, SSPM ensures that companies stay compliant and avoid potential risks. Its ability to perform automatic checks and enforce rules makes it essential for maintaining continuous compliance.

App Governance

SSPM makes it easy for organizations to follow the rules by giving them information on data access, how apps are used, and configurations. With these insights, businesses can manage and improve how they create and use apps while keeping things super secure.

Identity Access & Governance

SSPM enables real-time identification and mitigation of access anomalies, policy violations, and security vulnerabilities. SSPM's identity access and governance capabilities streamline compliance standards and strengthen overall security posture.

SaaS Detection and Response

SSPM offers real-time insights into unusual activities such as unauthorized access attempts, deviations from defined security baselines, and over-provisioned controls using sophisticated detection techniques. With this information, organizations can reduce the impact of security incidents. They can enable timely, focused, and automated remediation through robust observability mechanisms.

How to Choose the Right SSPM Solution to Protect SaaS Applications

The decision to onboard an SSPM solution is not straightforward. Every factor influencing the SaaS security should be part of SSPM offerings. Choosing the right SSPM solution should be based on the outcome of the following:

Ask the Right Questions

Asking the rights questions and visualizing the security posture needs against solutions offered to formulate a plan is essential. Generic questions should be as follows:

  • What is the primary goal and end outcome of the SaaS security plan? The intent of requirements and results of SSPM offerings should bridge the gap.
  • Where should the journey towards attaining bulletproof SaaS security begin?
  • How can we articulate and strategize the SaaS security requirements around company-wide business objectives?
  • Can efficiency and security be boosted for our SaaS security needs by investing in AI?
  • Are we adopting diversified SaaS solutions as we grow? Does this alter our security priorities and the course of action towards achieving advanced security?

Compare SSPM Vendors

Insufficient product research and comparison of offerings among SSPM vendors can be very expensive if onboarded without due diligence. Ask the following questions while comparing SSPM vendors:

  • Are the vendor offerings production-ready?
  • Do they enable the implementation of industry-grade compliance and security standards by default?
  • Do they have detection & response capabilities?
  • Does the vendor operate by security-first and cloud-first principles?
  • Has there been any incident or report recently about vendors misusing information or failing to deliver secure services?

Look for a Long-Term Partner in Your SaaS Security Journey

Adhering to security is a never-ending and evolving task. Security standards evolve over time with new requirements, and not meeting them can have severe consequences. Managing a steady security posture can be challenging if the security provider does not understand the pain points of the business. Security vendors exhibiting trust and delivering value should be seen as long-term partners.

How Reco Can Help

Addressing rapidly evolving modern SaaS security requirements through legacy SSPM solutions is no longer viable. The overall SaaS security posture is a high priority at the enterprise level. A promising solution helps organizations learn about their SaaS implementation and integration by providing visibility into every aspect concerning IAM, configurations, and compliance management. This is where Reco truly shines.

Reco is an identity-first SaaS security solution that gives organizations a clear view of their SaaS security needs. It helps manage and improve SaaS security on a big scale, addressing risks effectively. Using AI-based graph technology, Reco works fast, benefiting businesses of all sizes.

Reco stands out as a future-ready SSPM solution, providing top-notch security capabilities. With Reco, security teams can spot risks continuously with advanced analytics, clear visuals, and real-time alerts for user actions and relationships. Its innovative features help identify and fix misconfigurations, excessive permissions, compromised accounts, and unusual activities.

Illustration showing how Reco can help with Identity-first SaaS security

Conclusion

Creating a separate tool for each specific need can become overwhelming. SaaS applications offer a timely solution, allowing organizations to do more in less time, with vendors handling the intricate details. However, dependence on various SaaS applications introduces management challenges and security risks. Using unified and robust tools like SSPM becomes essential in mitigating security threats. They also prevent configuration inconsistencies and ensure comprehensive Identity and Access Management (IAM) and compliance management through continuous monitoring and automated remediation capabilities.

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