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February 27, 2023 | Updated on: April 2, 2024 | Reading time 14 minutes

What is SSPM (SaaS Security Posture Management)

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Businesses are feverishly accelerating their move to cloud SaaS apps, now the standard for modern productivity. However, data security comes front and center with cloud SaaS paving the way for the future for businesses. Therefore, managing the cloud SaaS security “posture” becomes critical for companies to protect their data and provide the tools needed for productivity. SaaS Security Posture Management (SSPM) tools allow businesses to meet cloud SaaS security goals effectively. Why is SSPM crucial?

Security risks in the cloud 

While cloud SaaS is ripe with modern tools and technologies empowering businesses, it can equally be filled with security pitfalls using SaaS applications. For example, cloud misconfigurations, risky third-party applications, shadow IT, ransomware, data leakage, and many other threats can jeopardize critical and sensitive data and lead to security breaches.  

Companies can fall into the trap of misconceptions, thinking that simply migrating data to cloud SaaS environments makes it inherently more secure. However, the security posture of cloud SaaS still depends on implementing and following security posture best practices. 

What is SaaS security posture?

An enterprise’s security posture refers to the overall security state of all software, hardware, configurations, services, networks, and applications as part of the technical landscape. It is a good indicator of how the organization can defend against security threats and security risks as these come along. 

When related to SaaS, all the same principles apply. However, the underlying infrastructure security is fully managed since SaaS is located in a cloud provider data center. Therefore, the focus shifts to the security stance and configuration of the SaaS applications.

What is SaaS Security Posture Management SSPM?

The growing risks of uncontrolled Shadow IT and cloud configuration call for a solution that will help companies close these security gaps.

SaaS Security Posture Management (SSPM) refers to the security solutions and tooling needed for automated continuous monitoring and visibility of an organization’s SaaS apps in the cloud SaaS environment.

It helps to minimize cloud misconfigurations and security risks of SaaS apps and provides native security controls to help protect sensitive data housed in cloud services. In addition, it bolsters the security team by providing 24x7x365 monitoring of the environment, quickly detecting security gaps in cloud apps, and allowing SecOps to address security issues effectively or use automated responses to remediate these.

CASB vs. SSPM tools

CASB and SSPM tools are often confused because some of their functionality is similar.

CASBs (Cloud Access security brokers) can be located on-premises or in the cloud and provide a way for organizations to enforce security policies defined by a cloud administrator as defined by the business. CASBs can be API or firewall-based solutions, with API being the more effective for policy enforcement capabilities with cloud SaaS.

Rather than being competing technologies or a “one or the other” type choice, SSPM works hand-in-hand with CASB solutions. The CASB solution defines and enforces organization-wide policies, while SSPM continuously scans cloud SaaS applications to ensure these meet the security policies defined.

SSPM and threat detection

SSPM helps organizations define comprehensive SaaS security, detecting security risks in the SaaS environment. These include SaaS misconfigurations, user access, compliance risks, cloud security vulnerabilities, risky apps, and visibility over data sharing. 

With the constant visibility provided, SSPM solutions help businesses develop a strong security posture, meeting industry standards. Continuously monitoring for security threats also helps meet compliance requirements by assisting companies in aligning with security frameworks.

What is SSPM SaaS Security Posture Management tool
SaaS Security Posture management tool

SpinOne – A modern SSPM solution

No matter which SaaS vendor you use, SSPM is an integral part of the SaaS security strategy in the cloud. SpinOne combines the power of modern CASB and SSPM solutions to protect organizations against cyber threats. In addition, it provides the security tools to bolster an organization’s security posture and SaaS app security.

SpinOne provides the security tools needed to meet SSPM objectives, including:

  • Application monitoring – It provides continuous applications monitoring, allowing real-time visibility and assessment of Microsoft 365 applications and OAuth access
  • Access management – Spin evaluates applications with access to Microsoft 365 data and provides risk assessment scoring of cloud apps. In addition, it enables businesses to create allowlists and blocklists of applications.
  • Security Policies – With Spin, you can create organization-wide security policies that define which applications can be used and which data shared
  • Zero-day mitigation – Take control over applications used in your SaaS environment, making sure these align with your security policies
  • Compliance – Only allow authorized applications and data sharing to meet compliance objectives
  • Alerts and reporting – Receive real-time alerting that notifies of application score changes, security events, and other changes and updates

Hackers commonly target the weakest link in the security chain. Cloud SaaS is no exception. Even the slightest misconfiguration or lax SaaS app security can open an organization to many threats. With Spin’s effective security automation, you can create policies to allow or block applications based on their risk score, application ID, category, developer, or application name. It also helps to level the playing field against the growing threat of shadow IT.  

With automated scoring and security policies and third-party app protection provided, Spin allows customers to use cloud SaaS applications with confidence, knowing the apps have been evaluated and assessed for security and compliance risks. 

If you want to speak with a Spin Solution Engineer to discuss how SpinOne helps protect your environment from malicious cloud SaaS apps, click here to book a demo: Request a Demo of SpinOne.

SSPM Basics

SSPM Vendors and Solutions

Just like any cloud solution, SSPM is a relatively new tool. However, with the rapid cloud adoption, the need for SaaS security posture management has increased significantly. Now we can find multiple SSPMs on the market. Get the SSPM Checklist to help you choose the best tool.

We suggest using the SpinOne as it meets all the requirements for the SSPM tool.

SSPM Challenges and Solutions

The SSPM implementation has several key challenges that companies need to take into account when searching for a solution. The first challenge is the compatibility with their main cloud environment. It is especially tricky for organizations that have several different cloud environments. 

Second is the functionality. Not all SSPM tools have all the features the organization needs. The third challenge is the assessment criteria for applications. Some SSPMs do not have compliance criteria which makes it harder for companies to make the right decisions.

SSPM in Compliance and Regulations

SSPMs can play a significant role in achieving compliance and meeting necessary regulations. Some compliance requirements mandate that corporate data should only be stored in certain geographic regions. 

Having your data stored in an application that is registered outside these regions can have serious consequences. Furthermore, by minimizing the chances of zero-day attacks, SSPMs indirectly contribute to the organization’s compliance.

SSPM and Data Protection

SSPM solutions improve your organization’s data protection. SSPM helps find and control SaaS applications that can access your data. Some of these applications can even edit your data. In case of a zero-day attack, an application can delete, corrupt, or leak your sensitive information. SSPM can minimize this risk by providing control for risky applications.

SSPM and Threat Intelligence

SSPM tool should be the part of threat intelligence system for any company that has significant data sets stored and a percentage of operations carried out in the cloud. SSPM works to detect and investigate SaaS applications. These apps can pose a significant threat to the company and without SSPM they can remain under the radar for months or even years. The automatic evaluation of the apps also helps increase the efficiency and speed of threat intelligence. 

SSPM Best Practices

SSPM Best Practices
SSPM Best Practices 1

The best practices for SaaS Security Posture Management tools include: 

  • the availability of a centralized platform, 
  • 24/7 monitoring and reporting, 
  • the vast number of assessed applications, 
  • the number of available integrations, 
  • multiple criteria for app assessment
  • application scoring,
  • the functionality to immediately revoke access, 
  • the possibility to set customized security policies,
  • customization.

SSPM Implementation and Best Practices

SSPMs are usually very easy to implement. Developers engage UI/UX designers to make the functionality easily accessible and intuitive. Usually, it takes up to a week to learn all the features and get used to working with SSPM. 

If you have several cloud environments, you can look for a solution that works in all of them. For example, SpinOne has SSPM functionality for both Google Workspace and Microsoft 365.

SSPM Features and Capabilities

The three key features of every SSPM include detection, assessment, and allow and blocklisting. Detection is essential as cloud environments usually lack functionality that provides visibility into the OAuth applications that have access to them.

Assessment is essential to make informed decisions on whether to keep an application or block it. It helps the security team cut time on manual app risk assessment. Finally, the ability to create allow and block lists can automate even further the process for the team.

Emerging Trends in SSPM

There are several trends in SSPM lately. The most significant one is browser extension control. Apart from regular SaaS applications, SSPMs with this functionality can also help your security team make the browser extension visible and under control.

Another trend is the functionality that helps you send the request for a certain application to be whitelisted right in the SSPM. It streamlines the communication between the security team and the employees.

SSPM and Cybersecurity Trends

SSPM developers follow all the current cyber security trends to meet the security needs of modern businesses. They aim to add functionality to be up-to-date with modern security risks. SSPM tools have also become a trend on their own, being part of a more general category of Cloud Security Posture Management tools.

SSPM FAQ

What is SSPM

SSPM meaning stands for SaaS Security Posture Management. SSPM is a category of tools that enable the detection, evaluation, monitoring, and control of SaaS applications that have OAuth access to your cloud environment.

What are the major cloud risks that SSPM tools can address?

SSPM tools can help you detect SaaS application risks. SaaS apps can access and edit your sensitive cloud data depending on the permissions. Every such application is an entry point to your cloud environment for cyber criminals. The major risks are non-compliance and security breaches leading to data loss, data leaks, or ransomware attacks.

The detection and risk assessment of SaaS apps is a tedious and time-consuming process for IT security teams, especially if they experience a talent gap. Revoking access to such apps can also be technically challenging. SSPM tools help detect and control SaaS applications.

How can my business get the most value from an SSPM solution?

SSPM solution is a tool that detects SaaS applications and assesses their risks. However, it doesn’t define the criteria for access revoking. Your business will get the most value from an SSPM solution if you have a clear security policy around SaaS applications.

How to start with SSPM?

The easy steps will be identifying your risks, creating company-wide security and compliance policies for SaaS apps, and choosing an SSPM tool. Check out our SSPM Checklist.

Does my business need an SSPM solution?

It depends. If your business utilizes only on-prem solutions, you probably do not need SSPM. However, SSPM will help increase your security posture if your business uses a cloud office suite that enables OAuth access, e.g., Google Workspace or Microsoft 365. These tools are vulnerable to the risks related to SaaS applications. And SSPM can become one more layer of security. Learn more in our SSPM guide for enterprises.

How do SSPM tools work?

SSPM tools continuously monitor your cloud environment using API calls. Once users use their corporate account to sign up for a SaaS app, SSPM detects it, analyzes the risks, and reports it to your security team. Now, you can make an informed decision about whether to keep this application’s access to your system or revoke it.

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