Performing A SaaS Security Audit

There are many reasons to prefer Software as a service (SaaS) services over the cloud, not least because it has proved to offer the best return on investment. This, combined with the lack of maintenance for infrastructure or regular software upgrades, has predictably made SaaS the preferred model of choice. While SaaS deployments are unquestionably more secure than regular data centers, the question of security is still incomplete. 

That’s where security audits come into play for ensuring maximum security. 

How to perform a SaaS security audit?

From the usual patterns of security behaviour to different protocols that are in place to ensure optimal protection, a SaaS security audit should capture all these viewpoints. Before stepping into the security audit, make sure to prepare a data backup for restoration in dire situations. Here are some of the steps that need to be kept in mind when moving forward with an audit:

Data and authorization

This step covers the entire organizational hierarchy including the different roles of employees, responsibilities, and the overall risk posture of the system. Different matters related to authorization and governance are also evaluated through the usage of platforms. This is done by evaluating the entries in logs by users and the vendors’ access to dashboards, among other steps.

  • Evaluate data encryption and the security of transferring data between SaaS platforms.
  • Simulate a typical data flow to check the process, associated privacy measures, and any vulnerabilities throughout the cycle that can lead to issues like data leaks. 
  • Ensure data segregation is maintained to protect the system during data sharing. This means all permissions to data and different permissions need to be rechecked, even those of different environments and servers.

How strong is the infrastructure?

Here, we check the service provider’s infrastructure to measure the robustness and strength. 

  • Make sure that regular updates are conducted wherever necessary with security patches for issues/bugs commonly found or discovered during the auditing. 
  • The control and storage of encryption keys is an important matter that needs to be ensured, as well as the encryption certificates. 
  • Monitoring of user access should be done along with appropriate restrictions for accessing sensitive data. For this, the network should be strong and secure to handle the associated traffic and service interconnections. 
  • A strong firewall for your SaaS application will protect the server from unauthorized access, so make sure that your firewall’s equipped with features like anti-malware, intrusion detection, brutal force and DDoS attacks, etc. 

Data access

How data is stored and made available to different users depending on their job requirements is also an important aspect to be tested. You will need to test the uptime of the services to ensure the best service.

  • Storage locations of backups need to be secure and easy to access. The faster you get to your backups and restore your SaaS application, the more your brand loyalty sticks with your customer. 
  • Do you’ve a disaster management plan in case of unavoidable incidents? This may include handling huge levels of traffic at specific points of time by simulating high stress tests. 
  • Cluster systems, risk of redundancy, and capabilities during negative incidents are all aspects that prevent the system from complete failure, and hence important for testing.

Different security accreditations

Various credentials help you to determine the quality of your SaaS provider, some of which are as follows;

  • SOC 2 – security auditing framework that points to high levels of Saas security standard for the typical SaaS platform
  • OWASP AVS – this is an open and standardized standard that allows SaaS providers to test their systems for hardening their security barriers
  • ISO 27001 – An international standard for SaaS providers (also called the gold standard)
  • ISO 22301 – this standard focuses on an effective strategy for business continuity by reducing the possibility of disruptive incidents
  • CSA STAR – considered the future standard of accreditation, many leading cloud platforms are now aiming for this certification

Privacy standards

One of the prime concerns in today’s networking arena, this step should confirm that your application and SaaS provider meets this goal.

  • Access of data by third-parties should be evaluated under different conditions in which it’s possible, the kind of data that’s revealed, and protection of sensitive details.
  • Storage of client data, for how long, and disposal at the end of customer contracts – all these policies and rules should be revisited.
  1. Questions for your security auditing partner

During the SaaS security audit process, no matter your technical understanding, there are some questions you can keep in mind to ask your third-party auditor to ensure quality

  • Compliances and certifications
  • How frequently do they conduct penetration tests?
  • Are there disaster recovery plans in place?
  • Do they support and test encryption at rest and transfer?

After reading all these details, there’s no doubt that a dozen more questions may have popped into your head, making you unsure. A qualified and trustworthy security auditing partner is the need of the hour, and in Astra Security, you find just that – check us today for SaaS security audits!