Fast-growing organizations use up to 250+ SaaS tools. Every additional tool multiplies your security vulnerability. For instance, last year, a social engineering attack on Twilio compromised customer accounts. A similar attack on Mailchimp exposed customer data. In fact, according to Varonis, “81% of organizations had sensitive SaaS data exposed.” 

Across HR information, financial records, customer PII, etc., you are exposing a vast majority of your data to malicious actors by merely using SaaS tools. It is important to note that the responsibility of cloud and SaaS security is shared between the vendor and the customer (you!). In this article, we explore the various steps you can take to strengthen your SaaS security posture.

Key SaaS security considerations

While most business leaders are sure they need secure SaaS, few understand everything this entails. Some key elements you must ensure in your SaaS security strategy are as follows.

Data protection

Your project management tool contains confidential processes- and customer-related data. Your collaboration tool has protected conversations. Your HR tool knows everything about your employee lifecycle. Your cloud platform has proprietary code. A breach in any of these can expose you to privacy, confidentiality, and compliance risks. All the information you manage with your SaaS tools must be protected.

Access management

Access becomes critical depending on the nature of the information and uses cases of any SaaS application. For example, a sales team member should not have access to  HR data, while a sales manager might need just their team’s HR information. So, identity and access management are critical.

Third-party integration

Like you, your vendor might also use several SaaS tools. Any breach in any of those tools can also have a domino effect on your applications. You need to ensure your vendor protects you against such eventualities.

Data regulations

GDPR, SOC, etc., are some common regulations that most SaaS vendors adhere to. However, depending on your industry and geography, you might be liable to be compliant with additional regulations. HIPAA for healthcare is a pertinent example. Your SaaS vendor must support all compliance you need.


For purposes of regulatory compliance and internal security, thorough monitoring and logging are also necessary. While SaaS vendors might not share monitoring data or logs with you, it is vital to ensure they have all their basis covered.

How to buy SaaS securely

Given the rise of decentralized SaaS buying, the complexities of pricing models, and the long-winding procurement process itself, security often takes the backseat. Most organizations conduct security analysis as an afterthought. You need to change that, and here’s how.

Related Read: How can strategic SaaS procurement benefit your business?

Make an informed purchase

Before evaluating the SaaS vendor’s security protocols, it is essential to be clear and consider the measures you take. Begin your SaaS evaluation process with security in mind. Answer the following questions.

  • What function do I want this SaaS tool for, and what use cases will it serve?
  • Who will have access to this tool?
  • What data does this tool use?
  • What applications does it integrate with?
  • What permissions does this tool need?

For example, if you use Google authentication for any of your SaaS tools, a breach not only affects that tool but can also impact your Google Workspace. While Google has protections for this, thinking about the data, identity, and access you’re exposing to every SaaS tool is critical.

Understand the vendor security model 

Gartner finds that 60% of the procurement process happens before engaging with the vendor. In fact, most organizations choose the most popular or easy-to-try tool. This can be dangerous as the popular tools are also most vulnerable to attacks from malicious actors. So, engage with the vendor on their:

  • Security protocols
  • Security patching and governance standards
  • Incident response plan
  • SLAs for response, liability, and damages
  • Disaster recovery and business continuity plans

Check their data protection rules

However little data you expose through the SaaS tool you’re using, certain basic standards must be met. When it comes to data protection and privacy, check the following:

  • Encryption at rest
  • Encryption in transit
  • Single sign-on (SSO)
  • Multi-factor authentication
  • Authentication and authorization processes

Ask for their compliance posture

For you to be compliant, your SaaS vendors must be too. So, ask whether your SaaS vendor complies with all the regulatory standards such as SOC 1 & 2, ISO 27001, OWASP, GDPR, LDAP, AICPA, SAML, and any others specifically applicable to your industry/geography. Also, ask for the reports from any recent security audits, vulnerability assessments, and penetration testing (VAPT) they’ve conducted.

Set up structures for ongoing SaaS security

While the start of a relationship is the best time to do the security check, it’s not the only time. Conduct the SaaS security process at every contract renewal. Get an update on the status of any new certifications or renewals. Check again for the audits and VAPT.

Ensure vendor trust

SaaS security is too critical to ignore but too expansive to be thorough. Consider exploring a SaaS buying, management, and security platform like Spendflo to ensure vendor trust. This will help speed up compliance with comprehensive vendor checklists. Do all this while accelerating your procurement processes and saving up to 30% in SaaS costs.

Book a demo today.

Guru Kirupa
Karthikeyan Manivannan
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