Attacks on SaaS applications generally stem from three primary motivations: data theft, financial gain, or sabotage. Each type of attack manifests differently, with varying methodologies employed by threat actors. For instance, a data theft attempt might involve threat actors operating discreetly over an extended period, while a saboteur or ransomware attack would employ different strategies.
Unprotected SaaS Applications and Security Incidents:
When organizations fail to adequately protect their SaaS applications, they become susceptible to large-scale security incidents. One common objective of attackers is to steal data from these applications. Competitors may gain unauthorized access to a SaaS application, seeking to download critical company information. To achieve this, threat actors must acquire valid credentials and maneuver within the application to access desired intellectual property. To evade detection, they often employ gradual data downloads, minimizing the risk of triggering security alerts.
Detecting such attacks can be challenging, especially when the perpetrators are authorized or former employees. Companies that have recently undergone layoffs or are entangled in negative news stories face an elevated risk of sabotage.
Ransomware attacks are not commonly associated with SaaS applications, but there has been an observed increase in such incidents. In these attacks, threat actors gain access to SaaS data through compromised user accounts or malicious apps, encrypting the data and demanding payment of a ransom to restore access.These ransomware attacks often come with an added layer of threat, particularly when the compromised SaaS application contains personally identifiable information (PII) or operates in highly regulated industries. Alongside data encryption, the threat actor may threaten to publish the data online, compelling organizations to consider paying the ransom to protect themselves from negative publicity and potential penalties for inadequate data protection measures.
Implementing robust security measures for SaaS applications begins with access management. Organizations must exercise caution, particularly regarding high-privilege dormant accounts, such as those used during the setup phase but have since become inactive, or shared accounts used by multiple users. It is crucial to revoke access for employees who have been terminated to prevent unauthorized data access.If these accounts are left active, they provide an entry point to sensitive data without raising any red flags for security teams, as it becomes challenging to determine which current or former user may be accessing them.
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