SaaS security posture management helps mitigate common threats posed by malicious or negligent insiders.

July 17, 2023

4 Min Read

By Yoav Kalati, Head of Threat Intelligence, Wing Security

Insider risk management (IRM) plays an important role in cybersecurity. It addresses potential threats posed by individuals within an organization who have access to sensitive data, systems, or resources. A new guide by Wing Security provides a fresh perspective on tackling these threats.

Insider threats can be classified into two main categories: malicious insiders and negligent insiders. Malicious insiders intentionally seek to exploit vulnerabilities or cause harm to an organization's information assets. Their motivations might include financial gain, revenge, or personal ideology. Negligent insiders, on the other hand, unintentionally compromise security through careless actions or lack of awareness about cybersecurity best practices.

Whether the risk is malicious or negligent, organizations need to manage insider risks effectively. They must adopt a comprehensive approach that includes technical, procedural, and human elements. Technological measures, such as access controls, encryption, and monitoring systems, play a key role in detecting and preventing unauthorized access or suspicious activities by insiders. However, in today's increasingly cloud-based world where software-as-a-service (SaaS) application use is skyrocketing, security practitioners should look at IRM through the SaaS security lens. Here's why.

What Is SSPM?

Security posture management (SSPM) solutions focus on ensuring organizations use SaaS safely. This protection is vital because not only are SaaS applications the new accessible, decentralized way of working, they also require some level of access to company data. Many employees are willing to allow SaaS applications access to this sensitive data, often without involving IT or security teams.

SSPM provides SaaS security protection, allowing employees to continue using the SaaS applications they want or need while reducing risk to the organization. It provides a systematic, structured, and automated approach to check that insiders using SaaS applications are following the organization's security procedures. It also verifies that these policies are effectively implemented, consistently enforced, and continuously improved.

How SSPM Can Protect Against Insider Threats

An SSPM solution helps organizations establish more control over negligent and malicious insiders in the following ways:

Alerting or revoking access when a negligent insider tries to use risky SaaS applications: SaaS applications are extremely easy to onboard and often don't require admin privileges. These applications are usually benign, but in many cases, they pose an immediate threat to an organization and therefore their access must be revoked. Risky SaaS usage may be more common than you think. In a recent security survey covering over 500 companies, employees used an average of 3.5 risky SaaS applications in 84% of companies surveyed.

SSPM solutions continuously monitor organizations' SaaS environments for new SaaS applications. They then analyze each application and determine its security levels. An SSPM tool helps security and IT solve shadow IT problems and gain clear visibility and understanding of the nature of the applications. Modern SSPM solutions also provide automated remediation paths within SaaS products, saving valuable time for IT administrators as well as security teams.

Stopping malicious insiders who try to steal sensitive company data: Disgruntled employees, driven by factors such as job dissatisfaction, resentment, or personal grievances, pose a significant risk to the theft of company data. With insider knowledge and authorized access to sensitive information, these individuals may attempt to exploit their position for personal gain or to harm the organization. Disgruntled employees might engage in activities such as copying unauthorized data, downloading or transferring confidential files, or leaking sensitive information to external parties. These actions can result in financial losses, reputational damage, and compromised business operations.

There are two ways SSPM can help. First, by alerting security teams whenever employees attempt to download or forward large amounts of data that resides on business-critical applications such as Google Drive or Dropbox. This type of irregular activity should be addressed as soon as possible. Second, SSPM solutions enable companies to offboard users thoroughly and securely by severing all ties between departing employees and their SaaS applications. With just a few mouse clicks, security teams can revoke access to all SaaS applications. This is also useful for maintaining compliance standards.

Insider risk management is an integral component of a comprehensive cybersecurity strategy. By leveraging SSPM technologies, security teams can mitigate some of the most common and critical insider threats caused by malicious and negligent insiders. To learn more about how SSPM can be leveraged to protect against these threats, download "Insider Risk Management and SSPM: A Guide to Ensuring Your Data Is Safe."

About the Author

Yoav Kalati, Wing Security

Yoav Kalati has more than 15 years of cyber-defense experience on a national and international level. He started his career in the Israeli military's 8200 unit in various cyber-defense roles and retired 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.

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