What is SSPM? SaaS Security Posture Management

SaaS is not all cold brews, bright summer skies, and boardwalk strolls. Nope, there are also dark alleys, shady characters, and preventive measures. That's why we're here — to talk about SaaS Security Posture Management (SSPM), the challenges of monitoring SaaS applications, and SSPM's key functionalities.

As organizations move more of their business functions to SaaS technologies, the demand for managing these services has also increased. This is one of the main reasons Software Security Posture Management (SSPM) has gained popularity among IT professionals.

You're probably wondering, "What is SSPM?" In a nutshell, SSPM is a new approach to help IT Ops and DevOps address the challenges encountered with monitoring SaaS applications. It does this by creating a security-centric approach to monitoring. It's centered on defining and automating policies across all of your SaaS providers. Let's take a closer look.

What is SaaS security posture?

Security posture refers to the status of an enterprise's resources and capabilities in place to detect, mitigate, and respond to cyber security threats. It encompasses a wide range of tools and controls to safeguard your data, users, networks, and devices, including:

  • Information security
  • Network security
  • Data security
  • Penetration testing

The concept is the same with SaaS security posture, only this time; it applies to SaaS applications, which are cloud-hosted solutions rather than an internal network. This is what differentiates SaaS security from traditional network security. Since SaaS tools are hosted remotely, they are substantially out of your organization's control. 

security posture definition

They are accessed through the internet, from any device, anywhere in the world, increasing your attack surface and risk of unauthorized access. As a solution, SSPM tools help close security gaps in your SaaS applications by detecting the security risks. Let's move on with the definition of SSPM.

What is SaaS security posture management (SSPM)?

SaaS Security Posture Management (SSPM) is the practice of leveraging SaaS security controls and continuously monitoring your SaaS applications such as Slack, GitHub, and Jira to maintain and improve the security posture of your organization. SSPM can help you:

  • Identify and address risks
  • Reduce vulnerabilities and manage risks before they become a problem
  • Identify high-risk areas in your SaaS tools, assess their impact, and determine how best to mitigate them
  • Ensure security and compliance
SSPM definition

How does SSPM work?

To assess the risk of accidental exposure and minimize other security risks, SSPM analyzes the following areas.

Configurations: SSPM digs out risky configurations and errors in the security setup that might cause data exposure.

Compliance: SSPM identifies the security risks that could cause compliance violations to security and privacy regulations and standards.

Permissions: SSPM assesses users allowed in your SaaS accounts and their permitted actions. It detects inactive, unauthorized, and unnecessary users, reducing attack vectors.

Key functionalities of SSPM tools

SSPM key functionalities

As more and more organizations move their workloads and data into SaaS applications, challenges like accidental data exposure, permission, configuration mistakes, and non-compliance issues need immediate addressing. SSPM provides visibility, compliance, and control management capabilities to overcome these challenges with key functionalities such as:

Visibility

SaaS applications hold massive amounts of personal, corporate, and other types of sensitive data, leaving the safekeeping in the user's hands in most parts. Monitoring these services consistently and keeping them compliant is tricky, especially when the number of applications used mounts. SaaS security posture management:

  • Simplifies continuous monitoring of configurations 
  • Provides insights 

Policies

SaaS security posture management solutions often provide pre-built security policies and continuously check an organization's SaaS configurations and assets against them.

  • Ensure SaaS application configurations comply with compliance standards such as CIS and NIST

Alerts

SSPM services send automated, timely alerts to security teams when they discover a misconfiguration, mitigating risks before they are exploited. The closer the alerts to real-time, the higher the chances of closing security gaps without exploitation.

Remediation 

The last step in securing SaaS applications is the remediation process. Remediating risks involves updating configurations that cause vulnerabilities. Usually, IT administrators undertake the process; however, some SSPM tools automate it.

Benefits of SaaS security posture management

The stronger an organization's SaaS security posture, the more capable they are of defending against security vulnerabilities, cyber attacks, and data breaches, in short, minimizing risks. 

SaaS security posture management SSPM benefits

The dynamic nature of SaaS applications has led modern organizations to reconsider their compliance approach. So, today many organizations strive to comply with industry standards, privacy regulations, and security frameworks. However, compliance can quickly go downhill with the slightest negligence. Improved security posture helps adhere to compliance standards and requirements.

  • Prevents misconfigurations: 
According to research, misconfigurations and unauthorized access are among the highest-ranked cloud threats.

Data breach incidents saw a soar in recent years, the majority of which are due to misconfigurations of cloud services. As the number of SaaS applications used increases, resource configurations tend to be overlooked. This, in return, leads to security risks and falling out of compliance. SaaS security posture management averts these by automatically detecting misconfigurations. 

  • Eliminates overly permissive access settings:

Users with overly permissive roles might lead to broader attack surfaces and higher chances of accidental data exposure. That's why SSPM evaluates user roles and permissions in your SaaS applications, ensuring that only authorized users have access to a certain type of data, devices, and assets.

Suggested reading: What is Cyber Asset Attack Surface Management?

What is the difference between SSPM and CSPM? SSPM vs CSPM

Like SSPM, Cloud security posture management (CSPM) assesses security posture, but instead of focusing on SaaS applications, CSPM analyzes cloud deployments, detects misconfiguration issues, and compliance risks on services in the cloud. More specifically, CSPM monitors:

  • Cloud service providers (CSP) like AWS, Microsoft Azure, Google Cloud
  • Infrastructure-as-a-Service (IaaS) 
  • Platform-as-a-Service (PaaS)
  • SaaS
  • Serverless code
  • Containers

CSPM has some capabilities that SSPM doesn't have, including:

How Resmo helps your SSPM efforts

Resmo is a cyber asset attack surface management solution that continuously monitors your multi-cloud and SaaS environments for an unwavering security posture. You can attain a unified view of your entire cyber asset inventory in one place without dispersing your resources across multiple asset security solutions. Resmo empowers DevOps, IT, and security teams by providing the following capabilities:

  • Monitor access permissions across CSPs and SaaS applications
  • Set up policies to continuously and automatically scan your resources and configurations for security gaps
  • Get notifications on policy violations and remediate vulnerabilities before they are exploited
  • Stay compliant with less effort using compliance packs

Learn more about how Resmo can help you achieve a resilient security posture.

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