Take Control Back From 3rd Party SaaS Apps Today

Take Control Back From 3rd Party SaaS Apps Today

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When a business uses a 3rd party SaaS application, they are entrusting another organization to handle some of their data and processes. There are many advantages to this: businesses receive a high value service at a lower cost to what they would pay for providing the same service internally. Using a 3rd party service also enables your business to save time and money spent developing a solution, enabling you to get started straight away.

As more and more businesses use 3rd party solutions they are becoming invaluable: businesses that retain functions in-house suffer greater costs and are less able to compete.

But, there are also risks.

The key risk is that when businesses outsource these processes they believe they are handing over the responsibility for securing them. While 3rd party apps have an obligation towards providing security, ultimately it is your business that is responsible for protecting the interests of customers and shareholders.

Businesses must have an effective security solution that can deal with the challenges of having data and processes held by 3rd parties or risk disaster.

Two Key Security Challenges

Before the cloud, data was held on private servers and accessed through private computers, either at the office or from home. This made it simple for businesses to have complete control and visibility, everything went through servers controlled by the business.

However, many businesses have now lost that control, passing it over to 3rd parties. At a time when security is more vital than ever this is rarely a good idea:

How Secure is Your Data?

With most businesses using multiple 3rd party apps, this question is almost impossible to answer: your security varies depending on the app. This means you have no single overview of who is accessing what data. Even when the 3rd party apps provide good security features, the time and effort required to manage multiple different systems is an incredible drain on your resources.

The unfortunate truth is that many security breaches occur not because of vulnerabilities in your own system, but because of vulnerabilities in systems you are connected to. Business rarely assess these systems as rigorously as they do their own, because when you connect to multiple 3rd parties, there isn’t time.

Instead, your business must rely on contractual protection, using the terms of their agreement to ensure that vendors put acceptable security policies in place. Although vendors are increasingly becoming open to independent security audits, this is not always possible. Security certifications also provide a guide to security levels, but ultimately, you do not have control.

Do you have visibility into the 3rd party applications you use?

Mobile Devices Risk Your Enterprise Security

One of the key advantages of using the cloud is that access is thrown wide open. The concept of being “out of the office” no longer exists because the office goes where we go, with access assured through the mobile phones and tablets that no-one ever leaves home without. Increasingly, businesses and employees are using Bring Your Own Device policies, allowing users to use their own mobile phone.

But again, businesses are losing control. When employees remotely access data held by a 3rd party, there is very little visibility. Businesses cannot tell who is accessing the data through the phone, and without extra security measures, it is unlikely they will notice a hack until after thefact, when it’s too late.

Another issue is the other apps used on the device. The vast majority of apps available today are invasive; even legitimate apps require permission to information such as the user’s contact list, their location, and their personal details. In a recent study of 400,000 apps, 72% required a permission designated as high-risk to businesses. For example, 26% accessed personal data such as email or contacts lists, and 31% accessed data on phone calls and numbers[i].

And of course, there are also apps designed specifically to gather data and make hacks possible. These apps are malware masquerading as a game or dating software.

Are you confident all the devices used to access your data are secure?

How Can Businesses Take Back Control?

The best way to increase visibility and ensure security is to bring all of these apps and devices back under the control of your business. Businesses cannot take the risk that 3rd party apps have poor security features, or that employees won’t lose their phone or become a victim of malware or a scam: the risk is too great. Unless businesses retain control, there will always be a risk.

The best way businesses can gain instant visibility and control is by ensuring all access to data comes through one central location, in the same way, that users used to access all information through the company’s server.

The same solution isn’t quite possible now everything is in the cloud. Instead, businesses must employ a SaaS security solution, such as Onion ID. This will enable businesses to:

Increase Visibility into 3rd Party App Usage

Using Onion ID, businesses can gain complete visibility into the vital security questions: Who, what, when, how, and why.

Invisible verification ensures that only your employees access your accounts with 3rd parties. Granular privilege management specifies exactly what each employee is allowed to do, and under what circumstances.

Secure Communications from Endpoint Devices

Access is secured and data protected without compromising on usability. By managing and securing every server, container, and application in one package, businesses can ensure they have all the data about how their data is being accessed.

Employee profiling builds patterns of your employee’s behavior and helps to spot instances of anomalous behavior that may signal an attack.


[i] HelpNetSecurity – 25% of Google Play apps pose a security risk – https://www.helpnetsecurity.com/2012/11/02/25-of-google-play-apps-pose-a-security-risk/

Photo by Sean MacEntee, CC BY 2.0

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