If you ever had to keep track of your employees’ use of SaaS apps, you understand how overwhelming the task can get. Luckily, you can make your SaaS user management process not only more efficient, but also more secure. With the high number of SaaS apps an average company uses, this is an absolute must.
In this article, we’ll cover what you need to know to create the best possible SaaS user management processes for your organization while focusing on security.
What Is SaaS User Management?
SaaS user management is the analysis of SaaS applications users and their activity. It aims to improve the organization's efficiency by uncovering insights about their usage patterns.
To do that, it gathers many different usage statistics, such as which SaaS apps are most and least frequently used and how many users there are. With this data, the organization's management can make much better operational decisions.
What Can SaaS User Management Help You With?
Such a high number of SaaS tools leads to IT sprawl, or a disorganized IT systems environment. But, with SaaS user management solutions, IT administrators can see into the complex web of SaaS apps and find and delete redundant apps, which can also help save money.
SaaS user management, if properly done, can help you see how often each app is used. Then, you can decrease your organization's expenses by canceling under-used app subscriptions.
SaaS user management can also improve the security posture of your organization by letting you know when a new application has been installed so you can proactively review it. Remember, a new application can be an unapproved SaaS product that’s more likely to have vulnerabilities.
Lastly, Saas user management is critical for maintaining proper access control. It gives the manager an easy way to assign and revoke employees’ permissions for SaaS apps.
A Case for Secure SaaS User Management
Secure SaaS user management can address critical issues. Here’s why that matters:
1. SaaS Applications Are Insecure
According to this 2021 report on application exploits, “Web application attacks were the leading incident pattern among data breaches for 6 of the last 8 years.”
SaaS applications can are a source of many vulnerabilities, such as cryptographic failures and broken access control, which means they can be a way for malicious actors to enter the corporate network. These vulnerabilities can lead to data breaches that jeopardize user data.
Such breaches are all too common. Verizon’s 2020 Data Breach Investigations Report says, "Web applications were involved in 43% of breaches.”
To be more secure, SaaS apps need more than a management platform. SaaS user management must be complemented with robust security mechanisms, such as data loss prevention (DLP) and identity and access management (IAM). Such measures can be key ways to protect user data and user accounts.
2. Access Control Is a Major Challenge
When businesses commonly use 100+ SaaS apps, access control becomes a major challenge. There are simply too many new apps and new users to monitor.
A SaaS user management solution can help. By giving an administrator a bird's eye view of all apps, it can provide a fast way to understand app data. This can make their decisions more data-driven and efficient.
That centralized management can also help IT administrators simplify onboarding and offboarding procedures. All new users can be on-boarded in one management app. Likewise, all expired user accounts can be deleted from one place.
Some SaaS user management solutions can also help with access management. Regardless of identity providers chosen by the administrators, these solutions can define user roles. That can help safeguard the company's intellectual property, as the data access could be segmented according to the employee's demonstrated need to know.
As SaaS companies implement new automation mechanisms to keep up with competition and technological change, the user roles may change. As a result of the above, user data may end up being exposed to more people than necessary. To prevent that, the startup must use a robust SaaS user management solution complemented by a comprehensive security solution.
Such a security solution would review SaaS apps for authentication, user access, and single sign-on problems and provide timely notifications.
SaaS User Management Best Practices
We can learn a lot by applying Stanford's SaaS Checklist to an IT workflow to SaaS app user management.
Here are some of the most important guidelines from this list:
- "The product has the capability for service health monitoring.”
- “The product is scalable and fault-tolerant.”
- “The product includes log and/or event notification."
The last of these guidelines is especially key. Timely notifications can help analysts identify issues before they lead to breaches.
To apply that principle, it’s important to get rid of all SaaS applications that lack logging capability. Next, you need to test whether the app integrations allow the current SaaS user management solution to issue notifications.
While helpful, Stanford's SaaS Checklist is by no means all-inclusive. For example, they fail to mention the importance of data segregation, which is key for protecting that data. When data segregation is enforced, access control is used to minimize the number of people who have access to the most sensitive data.