Threat Management

5 tips for better managing your insider risks

As organizations increasingly embrace digital transformation and move away from legacy technologies, SaaS applications have become a popular choice for their many added advantages. Gartner predicts that the SaaS market will grow by 16.8% in 2023, supporting the idea that SaaS usage is alive and well. However, the growing reliance on SaaS applications presents new opportunities for insider risks to creep in.

For example, poor offboarding practices is one of the main insider risks that need to be addressed, whereby employees or ex-employees could either intentionally or unintentionally introduce SaaS-related risks into an organization. When employees leave the company, they may retain access to sensitive data and applications, creating the opportunity for malicious insiders or threat actors to steal data, disrupt operations, or launch cyberattacks.  

Some insider threats can be mitigated with proper security education and enforcement. However, the lack of control over which employees are using which SaaS applications and how, can result in the introduction of risky applications into the organization, excessive access permissions to core business applications, and even data exposure.

To help address these challenges and better protect the SaaS layer, more and more organizations are now leveraging SaaS Security Posture Management (SSPM). Here are five tips on how to leverage SSPM to ensure a well-protected organization.

  1. Discover Your Organization's SaaS Usage:

Shadow IT is a risk introduced by insiders and a significant issue for organizations. Employees often use unsanctioned SaaS applications without the knowledge or approval from IT and Security teams. By using these unsanctioned applications, employees end up introducing potential SaaS risks into their organization, as some of these applications may have vulnerabilities and weaknesses that threat actors could exploit.

A fundamental starting point in managing insider risks is to combat Shadow IT by gaining comprehensive visibility of all your organization's SaaS applications and who is using them. By utilizing an effective SSPM solution, you can identify all SaaS applications within your organization. Armed with this knowledge, you will be much better equipped to make informed decisions on risky applications and incoming Shadow IT threats.

2. Monitor for Abnormal User Behavior:

Continuous monitoring of abnormal user behavior is crucial as part of a proactive insider risk management strategy. Not only is it important to detect existing insider risks, but it is also critical to stay ahead of potential security breaches.

An employee's notice period is a critical and sensitive time for monitoring user behavior. Here, you should be looking out for any suspicious activities such as unusual data transfers, deletions, or access attempts to sensitive information. An advanced SSPM solution provides near real-time monitoring and in-product remediation capabilities that support this need, helping you keep tabs on irregular activities. This knowledge also empowers you to identify potential weak points and vulnerabilities, mitigating unauthorized access.

3. Offboard Outgoing Employees Carefully:

Traditionally, the offboarding process has been manual and highly time-consuming. It would include IT administrators having to manually go through lists of applications and databases, revoke access for the departing employee, and ensure that no loose ends remain. This error-prone process presents many issues, one of them being the potential for critical applications to be overlooked or access rights not fully revoked.

Streamlining the offboarding process is essential to not only minimize insider risks but also help set up more efficient procedures and practices that minimize room for error. Leveraging SSPM solutions with built-in automation capabilities can ensure that no outgoing employee retains access to critical business information, systems, or applications - preventing potential data leaks and unauthorized access, reducing the risk of insider threats, and enhancing overall security.

4. Revoke Unnecessary Access to SaaS Applications:

Access to your critical business applications should not be taken lightly. You should be asking questions like if every employee must have access to these kinds of applications, and if these applications have been granted excessively high permissions. These are fundamental questions that need to be addressed to properly secure your organization against SaaS threats.

An SSPM solution facilitates the swift termination of connections, allowing you to ensure that only authorized individuals have access to critical business information and other relevant applications. By actively managing user access rights, you can enhance security measures, minimize the potential for insider threats and comply with necessary regulations.

5. Regularly Review and Update User Permissions:

Regularly reviewing and updating user permissions for SaaS applications is vital to maintain a secure SaaS environment. To ensure the SaaS applications in use do not have excessive permissions to your data, be sure to conduct regular audits of permissions granted by users to SaaS applications (such as “write” vs “read”). By controlling user permissions, organizations can minimize the risk of data leaks. This strengthens insider risk management and bolsters SaaS security measures.

Ultimately, managing insider risks and ensuring efficient SaaS security is critical for organizations to protect their valuable data. By incorporating an SSPM solution into your security practices, you can proactively identify vulnerabilities, detect suspicious activities, and take action to prevent potential breaches.

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