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What is SSPM and do you need it in your stack?

By Aurore Inara April 4, 2024

SaaS adoption has skyrocketed, offering organizations undeniable advantages. But beneath the surface lurk overlooked configuration errors. Misconfigured SaaS settings create security gaps. Broad permissions, weak defaults, and forgotten accounts jeopardize your security. These issues act as open doors for breaches and unauthorized access.

The sheer scale of the problem is staggering – 70% of company software now resides in the cloud.  

Traditional security measures struggle with these unique SaaS threats. SSPM (SaaS Security Posture Management) becomes essential.

SSPM Key Functionality

What is SSPM? SaaS Security – It’s Not What You Think

SaaS Security Posture Management (SSPM) safeguards your cloud-based (SaaS) applications. SSPM protects your SaaS applications by monitoring for vulnerabilities and configuration errors. This technology identifies risks, provides clear remediation steps, and prevents threats.

It’s easy to assume security for SaaS tools rests on the provider. Reputable companies invest in securing their software, infrastructure, and customer data, but the recent Cloudflare Auth Token breach highlights the risks users can unwittingly introduce.

SaaS providers safeguard their platforms, but that doesn’t eliminate security risks. SaaS misconfigurations leave you exposed. Weak settings, broad permissions, and how your team uses these tools pose risks. Don’t wait for a breach – address these vulnerabilities.

Here’s where risk surfaces:

  • Permissive user access
  • Incorrect settings leading to exposure
  • Outdated or unused SaaS
  • Shadow IT

SaaS misconfigurations create a range of dangers:

  • Oversharing permissions in everyday SaaS tools like CRMs compromise your data. Accidental leaks become possible, even to those who shouldn’t have access.
  • Even minor SaaS configuration mistakes have consequences. Misconfigurations often result in exposed APIs, vulnerable backups, and easily exploited security holes. One particularly dangerous exploit is a Server-Side Request Forgery (SSRF) attack.
  • Forgotten and outdated SaaS subscriptions pose a threat. Unpatched software within them offers attackers easy entry points.

Even well-meaning employees can put data at risk. If they adopt SaaS tools without IT approval (“shadow IT“), this creates serious problems:

  • Accidental malware deployment could infect your entire network. Even seemingly innocent SaaS solutions could introduce threats like the Tiny Banker Trojan (Tinba).
  • Violating compliance regulations (like GDPR) could incur hefty fines.
  • These gaps undermine your security, exposing critical systems to attack.
How SSPM Works

Your Guide to Proactive SSPM

Tools matter, but usage matters more. Misconfigurations and employee behaviors can expose weak points attackers exploit. SSPM proactively finds these risks, protecting your cloud environment from becoming a liability.

SSPM brings clarity and control. Here’s how.

1. Discovery

  • Unsanctioned SaaS apps lurking in the shadows? 
  • Gaps in your inventory of cloud-based tools leave gaps in your security

SSPM helps you build a comprehensive map of your entire SaaS footprint.

2. Risk Assessment

  • Are incorrect settings creating easy exploit points within your most used tools?  
  • Or are we introducing potential compliance slip-ups?

SSPM pinpoints vulnerabilities stemming from misconfigurations before they have an impact.

3. Remediation

  • Do you fix weaknesses based on guesswork or get clear directions?

SSPM secures your SaaS environment. Reduce your attack surface and enhance security settings with clear, actionable steps.

4. Continuous Monitoring

  • Are you keeping up with constant configuration changes and SaaS updates? 
  • Or overwhelmed by the task? 

SSPM automates vigilance, catching early signs of risk and safeguarding your systems proactively.

SaaS Cloud Diagram

Signs You Need SSPM – Take These 5 Questions Seriously

With SaaS tools, it’s easy to fall into a ‘set it and forget’ mentality. Maintaining a secure and compliant posture takes an active approach.  

Here are five questions for you to answer.

1. Is Your SaaS Footprint Under Control?  

A decentralized IT model undermines security. Teams using different SaaS tools without coordination open you up to dangers.

Decentralized tool management harms everyone: 

  • Overlapping solutions hide data flow, making leaks more likely. 
  • Disparate systems prevent security teams from assessing your attack surface. 
  • Unseen vulnerabilities in conflicting tools undermine your entire defense.

2. Can You Map Your SaaS Risks? 

Without an inventory of your SaaS platforms and the data they hold, you’re flying blind:

  • You cannot assess your attack surface, leaving potential entry points unguarded.
  • You cannot adequately protect sensitive customer or internal data from leaks and breaches.
  • Hidden misconfigurations and vulnerabilities create substantial yet difficult-to-see threats.

3. Are You Confident Your SaaS Settings Never Change? 

Even well-intentioned adjustments made by authorized users can have far-reaching security implications. You can stay ahead of emerging weaknesses if changes are easily tracked and assessed for risk.

4. Can You Prove SaaS Compliance? 

Regulations like GDPR and HIPAA mandate that sensitive data be secure throughout its cloud journey. You cannot adequately protect sensitive customer or internal data, including personally identifiable information (PII), from leaks and breaches.

SSPM makes sure you stay compliant through:

  • Provide documentation detailing how your SaaS security stack handles high-risk data.
  • Continual analysis identifying, reporting, and resolving potential breaches of these standards.

5. Do Employees Use Their Own SaaS Tools at Work? 

Well-intentioned adoption of unsanctioned SaaS solutions might simplify workflows, but it can introduce unforeseen security and compliance risks. Does your organization need strong oversight and guidance in this area?

SaaS Security Posture Management

Beyond Protection – Additional Benefits of SSPM

SSPM is essential for preventing SaaS-based breaches, offering even broader security benefits. It improves both security and organizational efficiency by:

  • Managing operational costs
  • Streamlining user workflow
  • Enhances cloud efficiency

SSPM actively improves operations. Through discovery, analytics, and automated actions, it reduces costs created by SaaS sprawl. 

SSPM empowers your people to work smarter, not harder:

  • Quickly spot unused licenses and subscriptions, allowing for better budget management.
  • Onboarding employees goes faster with easy, accurate permission setup within your SaaS stack.
  • Streamline access changes to reduce errors and get tools to your team faster.

SaaS security doesn’t exist in a vacuum. SSPM offers two significant wins:

  • It reduces costs associated with misconfigured or unneeded SaaS tools.
  • Getting full use of your cloud investments improves security and ROI.

How SSPM Complements Your Wider Security Ecosystem

SSPM brings specialized benefits that complement your broader cybersecurity setup.  This solution doesn’t replace your existing security. It amplifies it.

Here are three things SSPM can do for your SaaS security:

  1. Maximize investment
  2. Increase security efficiency
  3. Proactive and preventative rather than reactive

One key strength of SSPM is that it maximizes your security investment. An SSPM solution integrates seamlessly with existing tools, including advanced cloud threat detection and response (CTDR) platforms for even deeper visibility.

SSPM streamlines security with prioritized risk reports instead of complex configurations. Outdated tools bury teams in data, slowing response times and hiding threats. Quick response is critical. SSPM surfaces urgent SaaS risks and guides their immediate resolution.

Perhaps most importantly, SSPM enables a proactive approach rather than reactive scrambling. Harness the power of threat intelligence to make your SaaS environment stronger! SSPM reveals vulnerabilities specific to cloud apps. This data enables you to act and secure things on your terms before attackers exploit them. Address weaknesses proactively to prevent breaches.

Identity-first SaaS Security

7 Factors to Consider – Choosing the Right SSPM Solution

The evolving SSPM market offers a range of solutions to meet varied needs.  When assessing platforms, prioritize these 7 factors:

1. SaaS Coverage

Can the SSPM handle your specific mix of SaaS platforms? Don’t fly blind with incomplete SaaS security. Coverage gaps create exploitable weaknesses. Ensure your SSPM protects even niche tools critical to your industry.

2. Risk Scoring Methodology

How deep is the analysis? A thorough assessment should prioritize risks based on potential impact. Prioritizing fixes with the highest impact on vulnerabilities simplifies your team’s work.

3. Reporting & Compliance

Regulatory pressure isn’t going away. Does the SSPM streamline compliance reporting for standards like GDPR and HIPAA? Can it easily show the linkage between your SaaS setup and regulatory requirements?

4. Scalability

Your tech evolves  – your SSPM needs to keep pace.  Outdated tools hinder growth, forcing costly migrations due to incompatibility. Choose cloud-native SSPMs that scale with you for peace of mind.

5. Ease of Integration

Maximize the value of what you already own. Avoid creating new problems when picking a security tool. SSPM integration is critical. Choose an SSPM that plays well with your existing tools! Look for easy integration with your SIEM, endpoint protection systems, and vulnerability scanners. 

6. Depth of Threat Intelligence

Don’t rely on yesterday’s security. An effective SSPM taps into vast threat data pools, which may include container-specific vulnerabilities for unmatched defense. Attackers evolve – and so should your security. The best tools offer defense against many threats. These range from simple automated attacks to complex strategies targeting SaaS weaknesses.

7. Vendor Support & Roadmap

SaaS security isn’t static. When evaluating a solution, consider responsiveness to emerging threats. Additionally, does it have a long-term roadmap aligning with the ever-evolving cloud landscape? A solid vendor relationship offers security confidence.

SSPM Is Not a Luxury, It’s Smart Business Sense

A complex cloud footprint with a focus on risk-based security calls for SSPM. The ROI extends beyond breach prevention – it optimizes your entire cloud environment.

Hardcoded API keys, passwords, and sensitive data create significant security vulnerabilities. Traditional SSPM tools might only catch some of them. Spectral is your specialized “secret hunter” to safeguard critical assets from leaks and misuse.

Strengthen your cloud security today.

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