5 Fundamental Actions to Protect the SaaS Supply Chain

Effective third-party risk management is crucial for identifying and mitigating vulnerabilities in the SaaS supply chain.

December 11, 2023

4 Min Read
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By Yoav Kalati, VP of Product, Wing Security

As business evolves toward a more decentralized model, organizations are increasingly embracing cloud-based software-as-a-service (SaaS). These products provide the capabilities necessary to thrive today, with easily accessible applications ranging from generative artificial intelligence (AI) solutions to productivity and collaboration tools.

SaaS has become the go-to choice for many businesses seeking rapid scalability, quick value realization, and seamless onboarding of new applications without significant uplift. However, adopting SaaS tools presents businesses the critical challenge of protecting themselves from potential risks linked to third-party SaaS products and services.

So, while SaaS offers convenience and rapid implementations, it introduces a significant security challenge of managing third-party SaaS risks. The interconnected nature of SaaS supply chains means that security incidents affecting vendors can have cascading effects on business operations throughout the entire supply chain.

To address these challenges, organizations must ensure their SaaS vendors prioritize security by putting robust practices in place. The existence of a connection between organizations and vendors creates vulnerabilities, highlighting the need for proactive security measures.

As SaaS takes on the role of a third-party vendor in an organization's digital supply chain, evaluating SaaS vendors has become pivotal for comprehensive vendor risk management. Regardless of size, organizations must remain vigilant in managing third-party risks to maintain a secure and resilient business environment.

Third-Party Risk Management in SaaS

Third-party risk management (TPRM) in the SaaS context involves evaluating and managing potential risks from third-party vendors and service providers. This process helps security and IT teams identify various cybersecurity-related risks, including data privacy vulnerabilities, compliance gaps, operational issues, financial challenges, and reputational concerns.

However, it is not enough to rely solely on vendor risk assessments. To effectively manage third-party risks, companies need to both assess and mitigate these risks. Thorough third-party risk assessments initially provide insights, which can lead to proactive mitigation of threats and protection of the SaaS supply chain.

How to Manage Third-Party SaaS Risk

Here are five comprehensive TPRM actions you can take to support SaaS security.

  1. Identification and categorization: Systematic data collection and analysis of third-party connections are essential for understanding potential threats to security and compliance. SaaS security posture management (SSPM) technology aids in discovering all third-party SaaS applications, providing contextual information on access levels and vendor security through continuous data collection and analysis.

  2. Due diligence and assessment: Conducting due diligence before onboarding or installing applications is crucial to prevent introducing risky applications into the SaaS stack. To meet security standards, it's fundamental to assess third-party security controls, policies, and procedures. Organizations should look for products that provide security and compliance information about vendors, including vendor size, location, and historic threat intelligence alerts.

  3. Continuous monitoring: Continuous monitoring is vital for effective TPRM. It extends beyond just prevention, emphasizing the importance of regularly assessing third-party security practices to maintain ongoing compliance and protection. Security solutions that continuously monitor vendors' information, including changes in security and privacy compliance, help organizations stay ahead of evolving risks.

  4. Incident response: In case of a security incident involving a third-party connection, organizations need a robust incident response plan. Having a solution that provides near real-time or real-time threat information is a significant advantage for SaaS security. This is because timely threat intelligence alerts enable prompt and effective responses.

  5. Documentation and reporting: Maintaining detailed records of the TPRM process is crucial for demonstrating security compliance. Ideally, organizations should opt for solutions that not only monitor the organization's SaaS stack but also provide necessary information to support TPRM. This facilitates generating comprehensive reports, ensuring transparency, and streamlining audits.

Effective TPRM Is Critical

The consequences of inadequate TPRM practices can be severe, ranging from cybersecurity breaches to non-compliance with data privacy regulations, resulting in financial losses and reputational damage. On the flipside, effective TPRM practices offer benefits such as improved security and compliance, strengthened vendor relationships, and better regulatory navigation.

Ultimately, TPRM is a critical process for identifying and mitigating vulnerabilities introduced by third-party vendors. It plays a vital role in fortifying an organization's overall security posture, maintaining regulatory compliance, and adhering to best security practices throughout the SaaS supply chain. This proactive approach is indispensable for securing organizations against SaaS threats and fortifying overall SaaS security defenses.

About the Author

Yoav Kalati

Yoav Kalati has more than 15 years of cyber-defense experience on both a national and international level. He started his career in the Israeli military's 8200 unit and held various cyber-defense roles until retiring after a successful service in the military's Cyber Threat Intelligence Department. Kalati is the recipient of various certificates of excellence, including from the head of the Directorate of Military Intelligence and the head of the Cyber Defense Division. Kalati joined Wing Security in 2022 as head of the Threat Intelligence department and now leads the product function at Wing Security as the company's VP Product.

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