Top 7 Critical SaaS Apps to Secure Now [List+Video]

Top 7 Critical SaaS Apps to Secure Now [List+Video]

85% of business applications will be SaaS apps by 2025. The average mid-market company multiple SaaS applications across various departments. While it's crucial to comprehend the full scope of your client’s SaaS footprint, it is equally important to identify a shortlist of those applications that are critical to business operations—those storing sensitive data, and whose compromise could halt productivity. 

While these services store business-critical data and sensitive customer information, many users and support teams have overlooked them when it comes to data protection.  

Despite storing business-critical data and sensitive customer information, many users and support teams overlook the importance of data protection for these SaaS services. As of 2022, 33% of survey respondents to an ESG report, titled “SaaS Data Protection: A Work in Progress”, said that they were 100% reliant on the SaaS vendor to protect their data. Over 59% of those respondents have lost SaaS data.   

As organizations assess SaaS application security and recovery solutions, it's essential to ensure coverage for the applications that are most vital to their business. Microsoft 365 and Salesforce often receive the Lionshare of backup attention, but a myriad of other adopted SaaS solutions also pose significant risks to data security. These lesser-known yet highly sensitive data-storing applications can present major challenges if a data compromise occurs. Here is a key list of applications that create and store high-value data, which you should monitor closely in your client environments: 

  • Microsoft 365: Nearly every business relies on Microsoft 365 for office productivity and collaboration.  Moreover, Microsoft Teams has become essential for the daily operations of hybrid workforces. While most organizations recognize the value of protecting their SharePoint files and Email, there’s a significant amount of critical data sitting in Teams messages and other connected services, that may not be protected. Clearly, with a SaaS application so integral to the business, any data loss or prolonged recovery times could severely impact operations. 
  • Salesforce: Salesforce (SFDC) is the most popular Customer Relationship Management (CRM) application on the market, widely used by businesses of all sizes, from large enterprises down through the SMB. As enterprise size customers adopt SFDC, they’re likely to inject an abundance of critical business functions into their use. In addition, these organizations typically represent industries with much greater regulatory oversight regarding client data. Any loss of data can lead to downtime, and substantial fines and penalties.   
  • HubSpot: Not far behind Salesforce, is HubSpot with over 205,000 accounts and over 6 million users, it’s one of the more popular and critical CRM and marketing automation tools. While most of their users are SMB accounts (less than 200 employees), the companies that use HubSpot absolutely rely on it for their day-to-day operations. It’s important to note that HubSpot is more than just a CRM, it’s a full-fledged business operating system. Every stage of the customer lifecycle can be managed, from prospect to support. A loss of access to the service due to loss of data can cripple a company’s ability to communicate with customers, process orders, or even answer support calls. With its extensive integration into other SaaS services, an outage here can impact other business functions as well.  
  • Jira, Confluence and Trello: These tools have become the cornerstone of development teams' collaboration and coordination. Atlassian has over 260,000 paying customers, while Trello has over 4.6 million users. Data loss can mean months of project work evaporating and potentially downtime within the most expensive and critical work teams. Because of how valuable this data can be to an organization, it's even more important to ensure its security and data availability.
  • Zendesk/Freshdesk: Helpdesk ticketing systems might not be the first app that comes to mind when considering business-critical systems, but they are incredibly vital. Crucial for customer service and engagement, data loss can eliminate the information needed to review customer history, and lead to long support queue wait times, frustrating both customers and customer service teams. Almost every company has some form of helpdesk, and Zendesk and Freshdesk represent 150,000+ accounts combined.   
  • Box: Significant for secure file sharing and collaboration, used by many SMBs and some enterprises, Box tends to be the “business” Dropbox. With over 64 million users there are lots of users who rely on Box for important files. Data loss can lead to compliance challenges, and security breaches can lead to data theft and ransom requests. 
  • QuickBooks/FreshBooks: Integral for financial management and accounting for almost all SMBs and some mid-sized businesses. QuickBooks has over 800 million global small businesses. FreshBooks is also growing in user popularity. These services are also used by almost all independent accounting firms supporting these businesses. Data loss can lead to serious financial reporting complications that can hamper tax returns, prevent invoices from being generated, and can impact payroll. Data loss from a single business is a bad day for that business, but if an accounting firm loses all of their customers’ data that’s a true disaster.  

Threats to SaaS Applications 

It's important to understand that as critical as these services are to the functioning of today’s modern business, they are under a tremendous security threat from many sources. These threats include:  

Data Theft: Companies face the threat of unauthorized access to and breach of sensitive information. Internal users / malicious employees can access data and copy it out or delete the data if they want to cause damage. A malicious user with access to HubSpot could export all the customer data, then systematically start deleting data or uploading gargled data to corrupt it. They could then hold the legitime data hostage, or just leak it if their goal is to create harm.  

Poorly Configured SaaS Applications: Misconfigurations can expose data to unauthorized access. If every user has full rights to all the data, any user, including disgruntled ones can delete data, or modify data in a malicious way. Even well-meaning users can make mistakes, like deleting an entire table of customer data that breaks a SaaS service and requires re-entry of data.   

Identity Thefts: Exploitation of personal data to impersonate individuals. Stolen data can be used to open new accounts, gain access to other services, take out loans and other actions that can harm consumers. The data that exists in some of these services can include really sensitive items like social security numbers, driver's license numbers, contact information, mailing address info. While all of these should be stored in encrypted systems, not every business is perfect about how personally identifiable information is stored. Some of it is sitting out in the open in CRM systems or Helpdesk systems.   

Account Takeovers: Unauthorized access to user accounts to gain control over resources or data is a growing threat. Credentials stolen from other sources, and phishing campaigns can give criminals access to an employee's SaaS data and allow them to export and delete it. Criminals are now using AI and other sophisticated attacks to trick users into logging into false versions of a SaaS application to steal credentials and Multifactor Authentication Codes. Poorly configured user rights can allow an attacker to get into a SaaS app and damage, delete, or steal data.   

Malware / Ransomware: File based SaaS services like Microsoft 365 and Box are vulnerable to ransomware attacks and malware that can encrypt or damage data. Ransomware and malware creators are getting more creative in finding ways to attack and encrypt or damage SaaS data.   

How SaaS-to-SaaS Apps Can Compromise Security 

Assuming strong SaaS app security measures, such as role-based access controls and multifactor authentication, make these apps invulnerable can be a risky proposition. Integration between SaaS applications can create vulnerabilities. An app connecting to HubSpot may not have the same level of security and can provide an attacker with potential access to data – especially if these connecting apps have API controls allowing them to modify data. Data corruptions aren’t always malicious - an application or user error in a connected app could send a command that overwrites data in a target SaaS service.

Top 4 Data Protection Methods for SaaS Apps  

  1. SaaS Backup Data Protection: MSPs can benefit from incorporating a single platform solution ensuring the protection, recovery, security and compliance of business-critical data into their offering. The ability to enable automated, regular backups and seamless data recovery covering all critical business functions helps enable total business resilience. SaaSAssure is a great solution for SaaS apps that include but also backup apps beyond the big 3.
  2. Data Encryption: Encrypting data at rest and in transit is essential to protect against unauthorized access, including any backed-up data. Since SaaS service data exports are not encrypted, security best practices mandate that data backups be encrypted.
  3. User Authentication: Implement strong authentication methods, such as multifactor authentication and single sign-on, to verify employee identities. Ensure your backup service offering is protected from unauthorized access, as it houses critical information. Adding multiperson approvals can further enhance your SaaS data security.
  4. Role Based Access Controls: Ensure users only have access to the data they need to perform their job, and that these are reviewed regularly. Also, make sure your SaaS backup solution can do this too if you have multiple backup admins covering different business groups.

In today's SaaS-powered workplaces, the heavy reliance on cloud-based applications that house high-value and sensitive data underscores the need for robust data protection strategies. As they increasingly rely on these critical apps for data operations, the implications of data breaches, cyber threats, misconfigurations, and user errors can lead to significant data loss, compliance failures, and downtime. Implementing comprehensive data protection and backup solutions, such as Asigra’s SaaSAssure platform, is now a critical requirement for safeguarding the security of backup data in any organization’s business protection regimen.

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