SaaS cybersecurity threats

Every company should have an eye on its cybersecurity. =But SaaS companies have their own set of concerns to be mindful of.

With their business model primarily being online, SaaS applications open themselves to various SaaS cybersecurity threats.

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And many are underprepared due to their focus on growth over security.

Here we’ll look at the top SaaS cybersecurity threats in 2023 and how to protect against them.

Top 13 SaaS Cybersecurity Threats – 2023

  1. Web Application Vulnerabilities
  2. Phishing attacks
  3. Data Breaches
  4. Insider Threats
  5. Ransomware attacks
  6. Cloud Misconfigurations
  7. Third-party risks
  8. DDoS Attacks
  9. SQL injection attacks
  10. Malware attacks
  11. Zero-day Exploits
  12. Supply Chain Attacks
  13. Advanced Persistent Threats

1. Web Application Vulnerabilities

SaaS applications are effectively built on web applications.

And many vulnerabilities in web applications can affect a company’s ability to operate.

AppTrana identified more than 61,000 open vulnerabilities across the 1400+ sites analyzed in Q4, 2022 – according to the state of application security report.

When publicly disclosed vulnerabilities, attackers may attempt to exploit them before a patch is released. 

By implementing a virtual patch, businesses can effectively patch the vulnerability before attackers exploit it.

This can be particularly important when severe exposure or the affected software is critical to business operations.

Features

  • Wireshark allows you to capture network packets from various interfaces, such as Ethernet, Wi-Fi, and USB. It can capture packets live from the network or read from previously captured files.
  • Wireshark supports a vast number of network protocols, including TCP/IP, UDP, HTTP, DNS, DHCP, SSL/TLS, FTP, SSH, ICMP, and many more.
  • Wireshark supports a vast number of network protocols, including TCP/IP, UDP, HTTP, DNS, DHCP, SSL/TLS, FTP, SSH, ICMP, and many more.
  • Wireshark provides a powerful packet inspection capability. You can drill down into each packet to view its header and payload data

2. Phishing attacks

Phishing attacks continue to be a major cybersecurity threat to SaaS applications.

Cybercriminals use fake emails or websites to trick users into providing sensitive information such as login credentials or credit card information

With SaaS applications, phishing attacks can target users and administrators with access to sensitive data.

To mitigate the risk of phishing attacks, you should provide regular cybersecurity training to the employees and implement multi-factor authentication for the SaaS applications.

Attack Methods

  • Attackers often spoof the sender’s email address to make it appear as if the email is coming from a legitimate source, such as a trusted organization, a bank, or a popular service provider.
  • Phishing attacks leverage social engineering techniques to manipulate and deceive individuals.
  • Phishing attacks frequently involve the creation of fake websites that mimic the appearance and functionality of legitimate websites.
  • Attackers often include malicious links within emails, directing users to fake websites or infected web pages.

3. Data Breaches

Data breaches remain a top concern for businesses using SaaS applications.

It involves stealing customer data, including personal information such as names, addresses, and credit card numbers.

This can result in customer trust and loyalty loss and lead to legal and financial consequences for the company.

There are several steps that SaaS companies can take to protect against data breaches.

One of the most important is implementing strong security measures, such as web application firewalls, intrusion detection systems, and data encryption. 

Also, conduct regular security audits and vulnerability assessments to identify and address any weaknesses in your security systems.

Features

  • Attackers often spoof the sender’s email address to make it appear as if the email is coming from a legitimate source, such as a trusted organization, a bank, or a popular service provider.
  • Phishing attacks leverage social engineering techniques to manipulate and deceive individuals.
  • Phishing attacks frequently involve the creation of fake websites that mimic the appearance and functionality of legitimate websites.
  • Attackers often include malicious links within emails, directing users to fake websites or infected webpages

4. Insider Threats

Insider threats can come from employees or contractors with sensitive data access.

These individuals may intentionally or unintentionally cause harm to the company’s cybersecurity.

To mitigate the risk of insider threats, you should implement access controls and limit the number of people with access to sensitive data.

Features

Insider threats involve individuals who have legitimate access to an organization’s resources, such as employees, contractors, or business partners

Insider threats can result from individuals with malicious intent who intentionally misuse their access privileges to steal, leak, or manipulate data, disrupt operations, or cause harm to the organization.

Insider threats can also arise from individuals who inadvertently cause security incidents or breaches due to negligence, lack of awareness, inadequate training, or human error.

Insiders may abuse their authorized privileges to access or misuse information beyond their designated roles or responsibilities.

5. Ransomware Attacks

Again, while it might not be unique to SaaS applications, ransomware remains a relatively universal threat to online businesses of all kinds.

Ransomware attacks involve cybercriminals encrypting a company’s data and demanding payment to exchange the decryption key. With SaaS applications, ransomware attacks can affect many users and cause widespread damage. 

To protect against ransomware attacks, implement regular data backups and educate the employees on identifying and avoiding ransomware attacks.

Features

  • Ransomware is typically delivered to systems through various means, including email attachments, malicious links, drive-by downloads from compromised websites, or infected software and files.
  • Once the ransomware infects a system, it encrypts files or locks down the entire system, making the data inaccessible to the victim
  • After encryption, ransomware typically displays a ransom note to the victim, informing them of the attack and demanding a ransom payment in exchange for the decryption key.
  • Ransom payments are usually demanded in cryptocurrencies like Bitcoin, Monero, or Ethereum, which provide a level of anonymity for the attackers.

6. Cloud Misconfigurations

Cloud misconfigurations occur when a company misconfigures its SaaS application’s security settings, exposing sensitive data to cybercriminals.

To avoid cloud misconfigurations, you should regularly review and update your security settings and implement automated tools to detect misconfigurations.

Features

  • Cloud misconfigurations often occur when access controls are not properly configured.
  • Misconfigured cloud services may unintentionally expose sensitive data or resources to the public internet.
  • Misconfigurations can lead to inadvertent exposure of sensitive data, such as personally identifiable information (PII), intellectual property, or financial records.
  • Misconfigurations in network security settings can expose cloud resources to unauthorized access or external attacks.

7. Third-party Risks

SaaS applications often rely on third-party vendors for various services, such as hosting or data analytics.

However, these third-party vendors may also introduce cybersecurity risks to the SaaS application. 

Conduct due diligence on the vendors to mitigate third-party risks and ensure they have robust security protocols.

Features

  • Third-party risks include the potential for data breaches or security incidents originating from vulnerabilities in the systems, processes, or practices of external parties.
  • Organizations may have limited control or direct oversight over the security measures implemented by third parties
  • Engaging with third parties may introduce compliance and regulatory risks.
  • Dependence on third parties can introduce risks of service disruptions or interruptions.

8. DDoS Attacks

Distributed Denial of Service (DDoS) attacks involve overwhelming a SaaS application’s servers with traffic, causing the application to crash or become unavailable.

DDoS attacks can devastate businesses that rely on SaaS applications to run their operations. 

To protect against DDoS attacks, implement DDoS protection solutions and regularly test the SaaS applications’ resilience against DDoS attacks.

Features

  • DDoS attacks are often orchestrated using a network of compromised computers, known as a botnet.
  • DDoS attacks aim to flood the target system or network with an overwhelming amount of traffic
  • DDoS attacks can leverage various attack vectors simultaneously or sequentially to maximize their impact
  • DDoS attacks often utilize amplification techniques to magnify the attack traffic. Attackers send small requests to vulnerable servers that respond with much larger responses, effectively amplifying the attack traffic

9. SQL injection attacks

SQL injection attacks involve exploiting vulnerabilities in a SaaS application’s database to access sensitive data or modify the application’s behavior.

SQL injection attacks can be particularly devastating as they allow the attacker to take control of the application and manipulate it to their advantage.

Features

  • SQL injection attacks typically exploit user input fields, such as login forms, search boxes, or data submission forms, where user-supplied data is directly used in database queries without proper validation or parameterization.
  • Attackers inject malicious SQL code into the application’s input fields, taking advantage of unvalidated user input.
  • Union-based SQL injection is a common technique where attackers use the “UNION” SQL operator to combine the results of two or more queries.
  • Boolean-based SQL injection attacks exploit the application’s response to boolean (true/false) conditions.

10. Malware attacks

Malware attacks involve infecting a computer or network with malicious software that can steal sensitive data or cause other harm to the system.

With SaaS applications, malware attacks can spread quickly through the application and affect many users. 

Implement anti-malware solid software to protect against malware attacks and regularly scan the applications for malware.

Features

  • Malware attacks involve the deployment of various types of malicious software, such as viruses, worms, Trojans, ransomware, spyware, adware, or botnets.
  • Malware can be delivered through various infection vectors, including email attachments, infected websites, malicious downloads, removable media (USB drives), network vulnerabilities, social engineering techniques, or exploiting software vulnerabilities.
  • Malware attacks often aim to gain unauthorized access to computer systems, networks, or devices.
  • Malware attacks involve the execution of a malicious payload on the targeted system.

11. Zero-day Exploits

Zero-day exploits refer to software vulnerabilities unknown to the software vendor or the cybersecurity community.

Cybercriminals can exploit these vulnerabilities to access sensitive data or take control of the SaaS application. 

To protect against zero-day exploits, you should stay updated with the latest security patches and application updates.

Features

  • Zero-day exploits target vulnerabilities in software that are unknown to the software vendor or developers.
  • Zero-day exploits provide attackers with a window of opportunity to launch targeted attacks, often before the software vendor becomes aware of the vulnerability.
  • Zero-day exploits are typically developed by skilled and sophisticated attackers who invest time and resources in identifying, researching, and developing exploits for undisclosed vulnerabilities.
  • Zero-day exploits are often used in targeted attacks, such as advanced persistent threats (APTs), espionage campaigns, or cybercriminal activities.

12. Supply Chain Attacks

Virtually no company is 100% safe from supply chain attacks. That includes SaaS companies.

This is because criminals are looking for the weakest link in the chain. By hacking into one company, they can sometimes gain access to data belonging to other companies in the supply chain. 

Then they may be able to hack in, phish, utilize ransomware, and so on, to reach their ultimate goal.

Large companies are often the target of cybercriminals. But they will go through smaller companies to get to the bigger ones if necessary.

Features

  • Supply chain attacks focus on compromising the software or hardware supply chain at various stages, including software development, distribution, or updates.
  • Supply chain attacks take advantage of the trust placed in software vendors, developers, or suppliers.
  • Attackers may infiltrate the software development process by compromising the tools, libraries, or repositories used by developers.
  • Supply chain attacks may target software distribution channels, such as app stores, software repositories, or download servers.

13. Advanced Persistent Threats

Advanced Persistent Threats (or APTs) may pose as real users but have hidden agendas to carry out. Typically, they are state-sponsored or may be part of a group with access to significant funding.

APTs are difficult to detect. They will even use malware and other tactics to avoid being found. They are experts in evasion and often aren’t found out for months or even years.

APTs are usually after sensitive data. But they may also be there to disrupt your operations (e.g., with a DoS attack).

While some SaaS companies serve independent creators and entrepreneurs, there are those with ties to government agencies, healthcare organizations, emergency operations, and more.

If you have clients in these categories or similar, APTs are a real SaaS cybersecurity threat.

Features

  • APTs focus on specific targets, often high-value organizations, government entities, or industries holding valuable intellectual property, sensitive data, or strategic information.
  • APTs aim to establish a long-term presence within the target environment, maintaining undetected access for an extended period.
  • APTs employ customized attack techniques tailored to the target organization.
  • APTs operate stealthily, carefully navigating the target environment to avoid raising suspicion or triggering alerts.

Conclusion

How ready are you for SaaS cybersecurity threats in 2023? You can bet that hackers intend to leverage the latest technologies to get at your data.

Cryptocurrency, AI, machine learning, and more will form the foundation of attacks this year and beyond.

Is it time for you to upgrade your security processes? Then it’s time to find a security partner you can trust and count on.

Vinugayathri is a Senior content writer of Indusface. She has been an avid reader & writer in the tech domain since 2015. She has been a strategist and analyst of upcoming tech trends and their impact on the Cybersecurity, IoT, and AI landscape. She is a content marketer simplifying technical anomalies for aspiring Entrepreneurs.