Software-as-a-service (SaaS) applications have become an integral part of modern enterprise operations. According to a recent report by Gartner, the worldwide public cloud services market is projected to grow to $591.8 billion in 2023, up 20.7% from $490.3 billion in 2022, with SaaS being the largest market segment representing about 33% of the market. This rapid growth is fueled by the increasing adoption of cloud-based applications and services and the ongoing digital transformation efforts of enterprises across industries.
It is worth noting that this growth trend was also accelerated by the COVID-19 pandemic, which forced many organizations to accelerate their cloud adoption plans to support remote work and digital operations. As businesses increasingly rely on cloud services and SaaS applications for their critical operations, the need for a comprehensive, cloud-based security solution is needed to maintain compliance with industry rules and regulations and to protect against potential threats and risks.
Due to their diversified nature and their multiple use cases, SaaS applications require an integrated solution approach that consolidates multiple security controls such as cloud access security broker (CASB), data loss prevention (DLP), modern SaaS Security Posture Management (SSPM), and secure web gateway (SWG).
SSPM specifically is a fundamental security control needed to maintain compliance with industry rules and regulations and to protect against potential threats and risks. It dramatically reduces the risk surface across multiple SaaS applications for a more effective and targeted SaaS security, and provides invaluable risk context for a cloud-based zero trust strategy.
Statistics show that breaches due to misconfigured SaaS applications are on the rise. A recent report by the Cloud Security Alliance (CSA) found that misconfigured SaaS applications were responsible for 63% of security incidents. This highlights the ongoing risk posed by misconfigured SaaS applications and underscores the importance of adopting SSPM solutions to prevent such incidents from occurring.
Data from recent reports by IDC and Ermetic show that misconfigurations leading to access-related vulnerabilities are behind 83% of cloud security breaches, further highlighting the growing importance of addressing this issue. While this figure does not specifically pertain only to SaaS applications, it underscores the ongoing risk posed by misconfigurations in cloud environments. With the rapid adoption of cloud services, including SaaS applications, it is essential for enterprises to prioritize cloud security and implement appropriate controls to prevent unauthorized access, data leaks, and other security incidents. An SSPM solution can help organizations to achieve these goals by providing visibility and control over their SaaS applications, ensuring compliance, and proactively detecting and responding to potential security threats.
Here are the top five reasons why enterprises need to adopt an SSPM solution:
Protecting sensitive data
SaaS applications are often used to store sensitive data such as financial information, intellectual property, and confidential customer data. Unfortunately, many organizations have sensitive data that is accessible by employees. According to a 2021 report by vAmour, 76% of employees have unnecessary or inappropriate access to at least one sensitive data file. An SSPM solution can help to protect sensitive data by identifying vulnerabilities and providing automated security controls to protect against threats. This can help enterprises to prevent data breaches, which can have a devastating impact on both the organization and its customers.
Enterprises operate in heavily regulated industries, such as healthcare, finance, and government, where they must comply with strict regulatory requirements. A report by Gartner predicts that in 2023, 75% of security failures will result from inadequate management of identities, access, and privileges, up from 50% in 2020 . Compliance with these regulations can be a challenge, especially when using multiple SaaS applications with potentially hundreds of different settings. An SSPM solution can help enterprises to achieve compliance and avoid failed audits when using multiple SaaS apps by identifying and closing security gaps, monitoring for compliance violations, and providing audit trails to demonstrate compliance.
Improving visibility and control
Enterprises use a wide variety of SaaS applications across different departments and teams, making it difficult to monitor and manage their security posture effectively. Without proper security controls, collaboration can lead to security risks. An SSPM solution provides a centralized view of an organization’s SaaS applications, allowing enterprises to monitor user activity, track changes, and enforce security policies. This can help enterprises to identify security issues and take corrective action before they result in a data breach.
Data breaches can be incredibly costly, both in terms of financial damages and damage to an organization’s reputation. A 2022 report by IBM found that organizations that had fully deployed security automation technologies experienced an average cost savings of $2.66 million per data breach incident. Also, manually monitoring and managing multiple SaaS apps can strain already overworked security teams, requiring additional scarce security talent. By adopting an SSPM solution, enterprises can reduce the risk of data breaches and minimize the impact of security incidents. This can help to avoid costly legal fees, fines, and settlements, as well as the cost of lost revenue due to reputational damage.
Providing proactive threat security
SSPM solutions provide proactive threat and misconfiguration detection capabilities that allow enterprises to identify and respond to potential security threats and compliance violations before they become major issues. SSPM can provide visibility and security of users and third party applications that interact frequently with managed SaaS applications. This includes providing insight into their level of access, privileges, and other security-relevant attributes.
With real-time monitoring and automated alerts, enterprises can quickly detect and respond to security incidents. An SSPM solution can also help enterprises to identify risky user and third-party app behavior, such as excessive data downloads, unauthorized access, and suspicious login attempts.
By proactively monitoring for potential security threats, enterprises can prevent data breaches and minimize the impact of security incidents.
SaaS applications have become a fundamental part of modern enterprise operations, and their use is expected to continue to grow. However, SaaS applications also introduce significant security risks, particularly when misconfigured. Enterprises must prioritize security and take proactive steps to protect their sensitive data. Adopting an SSPM solution is an essential step towards achieving this goal. By protecting sensitive data, ensuring compliance, improving visibility and control, reducing costs, and providing proactive threat detection, enterprises can secure their SaaS applications and minimize the risk of data breaches.
Learn more about Netskope SSPM here.
 Gartner, Best Practices for Optimizing IGA Access Certification, Gautham Mudra, 4 April 2022