Identity Blind Spots in SaaS App Security

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Many IT organizations’ mantras are innovation and agility, especially when using SaaS apps. They move so fast that security is often an afterthought, lurking in the back of their heads as something they should ensure is managed later. Later never comes. There are constant demands for more growth and expansion, and the best intentions get left by the wayside. 

Lurking behind the convenience of these cloud-based solutions are significant identity blind spots that pose severe threats to organizational security. Let’s explore these hidden pitfalls and how SaaS sprawl can be effectively managed to mitigate these issues.

The Plague of SaaS Sprawl

SaaS sprawl happens easily as a few subscriptions can quickly snowball into a chaotic landscape of tools, each with its own set of user credentials and access controls. This proliferation makes it incredibly difficult to manage and secure user identities. Managing who has access to what becomes overwhelming when every department uses a different tool for similar tasks.

The consequences? Redundant apps, increased costs, and, more critically, a fragmented view of access controls. Without centralized oversight, ensuring that only the right people have the proper access at the right time is nearly impossible, leaving a gaping hole in your security posture.

The Menace of Shadow IT 

Of course, not all technology solutions and software are explicitly approved or managed by the organization’s IT department. This is where Shadow IT comes about. Employees driven to improve productivity often turn to unsanctioned SaaS tools, bypassing official procurement and security protocols. This practice creates blind spots where sensitive data is stored and shared outside IT’s purview, making it vulnerable to unauthorized access and breaches.

With shadow IT, the challenge isn’t just about controlling what software is used but also about knowing it exists. The lack of visibility into these rogue applications means that security teams are often unaware of potential risks until it’s too late.

Offboarding: The Overlooked Security Gap

Part of any business’s operations is hiring new people and offboarding those leaving the organization. While this may seem like a mundane step, ensuring a clean transition so departing employees no longer have access to company resources is crucial. However, many organizations poorly manage offboarding, particularly for SaaS apps. Employees leave, but their accounts linger, creating “ghost logins” that can be exploited by malicious actors.

Without a complete and consistent offboarding process, these dormant accounts remain active, often with elevated permissions long after a person has left, posing a severe security risk. 

The Visibility Void: Who Has Access to What?

One of the greatest challenges with SaaS management is understanding what apps exist and who has access to them. Organizations may have hundreds of apps and a sprawling user base, making tracking permissions and access levels daunting. This lack of visibility leads to users having more access than they need, or worse, where unauthorized users gain access to sensitive data.

Comprehensive identity and access management (IAM) solutions can help address this issue, but they require a centralized and integrated approach to be effective. Without such measures, organizations are left in the dark, unable to monitor and control access effectively.

The Illusion of SSO Coverage

A common misconception in many organizations is that Single Sign-On (SSO) solutions formally onboard and protect all SaaS apps. SSO is a powerful tool that centralizes and secures access, allowing users to log in to multiple apps with a single set of credentials. However, assuming that all SaaS apps are covered by SSO can create dangerous blind spots.

Many SaaS apps, especially those adopted through shadow or business-led IT, are not integrated with the organization’s SSO system. These apps operate outside the purview of formal security measures, leaving them vulnerable to unauthorized access. Employees may use separate, often weaker, passwords for these apps, increasing the risk of credential theft and data breaches.

Without proper onboarding into the SSO system, these applications are like unlocked doors in your digital landscape, providing easy entry points for attackers. 

Addressing the Identity Blind Spots 

Addressing identity blind spots in SaaS security necessitates a comprehensive and proactive strategy that begins with centralizing SaaS management. Organizations can implement a unified platform to manage and monitor all SaaS apps, ensuring that access controls are up-to-date and consistently applied. This centralization is crucial for maintaining an organized and secure digital environment.

To further strengthen this framework, develop and enforce robust policies against the use of unauthorized applications while also providing legitimate alternatives that meet employee needs. These policies must include a strict offboarding process to ensure all user accounts are deactivated upon employee departure. Regular audits of access logs help validate these policies’ effectiveness and are also essential to identify any residual accounts that may pose a security risk.

Enhancing visibility into who has access to what and integrating all apps with SSO systems are also critical. Advanced IAM tools can offer a comprehensive view of access privileges, which should be regularly reviewed and adjusted to reflect current roles and responsibilities. Regular audits are needed to ensure all SaaS tools are integrated into the SSO system, further enforcing security measures and promoting a more secure and integrated SaaS landscape. This comprehensive approach significantly improves an organization’s security posture, safeguarding sensitive data and maintaining the integrity of its digital environments.

By addressing these blind spots, organizations can significantly improve their SaaS security posture, protecting sensitive data and maintaining the integrity of their digital environments. It’s time to shine a light on the shadows and take control of your SaaS security landscape.

Savvy Eliminates SaaS Blind Spots 

Savvy adopts an identity-first approach, enhancing visibility within SaaS environments. This strategy allows organizations to deeply understand their SaaS operations and identify critical security risks. By leveraging Savvy, businesses can detect and mitigate harmful risk combinations, ensuring robust control and heightened security across their SaaS ecosystems.

Take charge of SaaS security, making it part of your overall IT organization rather than an exception. Schedule a demo to see Savvy in action.