5 Ways SaaS Security Programs Are Evolving and How to Get Ready Now

Posted on March 17, 2021 - by Darren Gallop - in Growing Your SaaS Company

With today’s increased cybercrime activity and savvy hackers staying one step ahead, SaaS companies need to be hyper-focused on protecting their systems and data. There was a time when neighborhoods were safe enough that people didn’t always lock their doors — which would be nearly unthinkable today. The same is true for a company’s systems and data. In the past, cybersecurity wasn’t a common concern and companies didn’t worry as much about securing their information. But having a strong security program at your company helps you keep the doors locked, the bad guys out, and exposes your vulnerabilities so you can address them before a breach happens. Your security program should also include an incident response plan that covers your security protocols and who is in charge when an incident occurs. Your security program helps you stay up to date on any standards or regulations for data protection. Additionally, it prepares you for vendor security questionnaires from your enterprise customers, as hackers often see B2B vendors as easy backdoors into larger enterprises.

Current Trends in Security

It’s especially important for SaaS companies to have a culture focused on security, where risks are known, assets are accounted for, and every team member plays a role. Part of having a strong security posture is keeping up with trends that may require added focus or reallocated resources.

The biggest trend in 2020 was the massive move to working from home, as the COVID-19 pandemic forced companies to find new ways to keep employees safe while working remotely from unsecured networks and hardware.

Another recent trend is the increasing number of mandated privacy laws developing in states, provinces, and countries. An example is GDPR, a regulation in EU law, or CCPA in California. This means that SaaS companies need to be vigilant around what standards and regulations they are currently compliant with, and which ones they may need in the near future as their business evolves. Both Canada and the US are considering new information security and privacy regulations (although it’s not clear when or what exactly would be included in the final legislation).

Hackers are also targeting supply chains more often, finding that there are weaknesses and oversights with smaller vendors that they can exploit. Additionally, enterprise companies are increasingly passing risk downstream to their vendors and relying on them to be compliant and secure. This means that SaaS companies essentially become the first line of defense for their customers and clients.

Predictions for the Future

Some of these trends, as well as more malicious cyber activity, are going to prompt companies to address new needs in security. Here are some predictions around security programs and what SaaS companies will need to know.

Automation

As automation increases in nearly every industry and sector, we’ll also see it incorporated into security programs. Tasks and functions that don’t require simulation will become automated, taking out the risk of human error — though simulations that rely on human instincts and emotion will stay.

Security Integration

SaaS companies must realize that security isn’t just one team’s responsibility, or that security only covers one function of the business. Instead, every team member has a role to play in making their workplace secure, from password management to coding, to securing assets and networks. As such, security programs are going to see much greater integration with other security, business, project management, and productivity tools.

Default Features

As enterprise companies rely on SaaS companies more for increased security, and as regulators will be looking for both regional and industry-specific standards around data privacy to be met, we may see them expect privacy and security features to be enabled by default. In fact, enterprise companies may pass on SaaS vendors who don’t have default security features built-in.

Cloud Add-Ons

SaaS companies shouldn’t rely on cloud services to manage their security for them, and should instead implement their own security approach that includes cloud services in it. But we’re likely to see more security solutions and add-ons offered by cloud service providers. This means that SaaS companies will have more ways to integrate their security into cloud environments.

Coding and App Development Credentials

SaaS companies need a robust security program, and experts with the knowledge and experience to oversee it. Security professionals and teams will need deep coding and application development knowledge and experience in order to keep up with evolving SaaS security needs. This means either training those in charge of security in-house or taking the steps to supplement your team with outside experts.

What You Can Do Today

These predictions for the future may sound well and good, but what if your team barely has a plan in place for the present? There are a number of things you can do today to strengthen your security approach, including the following:

  1. Focus on creating a security culture, with an understanding that founders and senior leadership are responsible for making security a priority, and that every employee has a role to play. 
  2. Start holding regular security meetings to instill the importance of security, to keep updated on any issues that may arise, and to start training up your team.
  3. Perform a risk assessment. Are there policies and procedures in place? What is your governance structure, and who’s taking the lead? What’s the procedure in case of an incident?
  4. Inventory your hardware and software assets to see what you have. Update what needs updating, see if any assets have been forgotten about, uninstall any old or unused software, and check access controls.
  5. Know what compliance you need, including any frameworks (tech companies often need to meet SOC 2 requirements) or industry- or regional-specific standards (like HIPAA, GDPR, etc.).
  6. Conduct penetration tests to stress test your systems and uncover your vulnerabilities.
  7. Consider if an audit is the right next step to prove compliance to enterprise companies who may ask.

As a SaaS company, you need to be prepared for today, and for what’s on the horizon. Get your company focused on security, build a robust program, and get yourself aligned to the right standards so that you can lock the doors tightly against any would-be intruders.

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About the author

Darren Gallop is a tech entrepreneur, information security expert, Techstars alumni, board member, and the CEO of Securicy. He co-founded Securicy and led the team to develop a SaaS product that guides businesses through creating, implementing, and managing their information security and privacy compliance program. Gallop previously co-founded Marcato and was CEO there for 10 years, until the successful event management software company was acquired by Patron Technology. He is fluent in English, French, and adept in Spanish. Gallop spends much of his non-work time traveling or engaging in the outdoors. Swimming, fly fishing, canoeing, camping, and surfing (basically in that order). He is from Nova Scotia, Canada.