How to take the risk out of SaaS development

Here's how to take the risk out of SaaS, and what your business will need to do to guarantee its sensitive information isn’t divulged to the public

26Oct

Software as a Service (SaaS) has grown to become a fundamental driver of contemporary economic growth, now finding itself on the center stage of the business world where it was once relegated to the sidelines. Despite businesses today flocking to SaaS however, many entrepreneurs and business owners who employ this model fail to consider many of the risks involved. Luckily, you can take just about any risk out of SaaS with competent employees and some basic tech know-how needed to guarantee your data doesn’t fall into the wrong hands.

Here's how to take the risk out of SaaS and what your business will need to do to guarantee its sensitive information isn’t divulged to the public.

Workers will always be a risk

There’s no way to dance around the issue, so it’s imperative to be upfront when discussing security concerns related to outsourcing models like SaaS, which fundamentally relies on trusting someone else to handle your information. Many business owners are skeptical of the SaaS model for a good reason – they’re concerned that those they’re trusting to safeguard their information may make I'll use of it, either nefariously or through an accidental data breach. Certain steps can be followed to all but ensure that you’ve eliminated the great risk of a data-leak when using SaaS. However, all should be considered by business owners before dismissing the model altogether.

One of the easiest ways that SaaS models are compromised, for instance, is the simple theft of login information like usernames and passwords, something that can be stymied with strict security rules. Protecting your employee’s information is a crucial step towards securing the integrity of your company’s IT network; if your workers can be phished or hacked, then so can your network. You can actually divorce SaaS from the equation entirely here and instead focus on implementing a company-wide security regime that fosters good behavior, like avoiding written passwords or login information that can be seen by passersby.

Similarly, workers constantly need to be having their tech skills honed so that they’re competent when it comes to handling the latest tech. If employees are falling for simple phishing schemes, their information (and thus access to your SaaS network) is vulnerable. Championing a strong IT training regime for all of your workers, regardless of how advanced in the company’s hierarchy they are, is an essential step towards eliminating risk when it comes to SaaS. Given that human beings are regularly defined as being the weakest-links in the information security chain, it’s worth taking extra time to read up on how to build a security-conscience workforce.


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Finding the right SaaS option

Taking the risk out of SaaS, even with SaaS business insurance, means you’ll have to do more than look at your internal operations. Before choosing a SaaS partner, you’ll find it necessary to thoroughly investigate them to ensure they’re up to snuff if you’re serious about keeping your information secure. Bad SaaS partners merely pay lip service to robust IT security regimes, which cost them money, pandering to you with meaningless promises that your information is encrypted and backed up. Always be sure that concrete evidence instead of mere promises is provided to you by your SaaS partners when it comes to enlisting a new one to help your business grow.

Certain SaaS vendors have incentives to keep data breaches hidden from their partners; after all, if your SaaS vendor stands to lose your business (and that of other companies) should it become clear their servers have been compromised, then it’s only natural for them to try and brush it under the rug. This is where the essential trait of honesty in the field of IT security, comes into play. You should never be striking up bargains with SaaS vendors who are anything but forthcoming when it comes to flaws in their IT security regime and should explicitly seek out honesty in vendors – even and especially if it means paying extra.

Millions of dollars have been paid out before to keep embarrassing hacks from going public. Understand that this is something that could happen to your business, too, if you’re not meticulous when it comes to the vendor selection process. Thoroughly review all candidates, and don’t be afraid to tell them you have qualms with the level of seriousness with which they’re handling your sensitive data. The alternative is a disastrous fiasco for your company that will hurt your prestige and operating margins alike.

Thanks to its relative youth, SaaS has yet to produce a set of widely adopted best practices. Thus, to take the risk out of SaaS, you’ll essentially always have to be cautious and meticulous when it comes to selecting vendors. Finally, it’s simply impossible to eliminate risk from the equation entirely when it comes to SaaS if you’re not strenuously training all of your workers in information security practices.

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