As cloud adoption accelerates, SaaS-based products have also exploded to fill the agility, scalability, and flexibility gaps of legacy solutions. McKinsey estimates that by 2024, the market for SaaS products will reach $200 billion, and according to BMC, more than three-quarters of SMBs have already adopted a SaaS product. While certain SaaS-based services are relatively mature, others – like cloud data security – are still emerging.
But for organizations aiming to create, leverage, and monetize their data assets without sacrificing security, compliance, or performance, investing in a SaaS-based data security platform is key to keeping up with the speed and scale of the cloud.
In this blog, we’ll take a deeper look at the benefits of SaaS data access control deployment methods, and what to look for when choosing the right solution for your data goals.
What is SaaS Data Security?
Software as a service (SaaS) is a cloud-based deployment method that allows users to connect to applications through an externally hosted platform. This service model simplifies the set-up management, and maintenance of platforms, while also enabling users to access the application on-demand regardless of where they’re located.
SaaS architectures can be either single-tenant, meaning each customer has its own software instance that can be customized but not shared, or multi-tenant, meaning that many customers share the same software instance. The latter is more common for today’s enterprises because it is more cost effective, efficient, and easy to set up and maintain.
Given their cloud-based nature, SaaS solutions require data security measures that can span their distributed resources and users. While not every SaaS-based data platform will serve the same purpose, there are a handful of security measures that we recommend teams apply to their SaaS software:
- Data Discovery & Classification: Applying sensitive data discovery to the data in your SaaS platform will ensure that your teams have a holistic understanding of the resources you’re working with. By classifying this data based on this discovery process, you can create a standard taxonomy that helps facilitate the creation of data access policies.
- Data Access Controls: Data access controls, applied through the creation and implementation of dynamic policies, control who in your data ecosystem is able to access specific resources. This helps ensure that your SaaS users are only able to access the resources they have the rights to, nothing more.
- Data Masking & Encryption: Data masking and encryption are methods teams can use to alter the data in their SaaS platform in order to protect any sensitive information that might be included. These methods can either adjust portions of the data or make it completely illegible without the proper permissions.
SaaS-Based Data Security Solutions
Beyond applying security measures to SaaS-based data platforms, there are also a range of emerging SaaS-based solutions specifically focused on data security. These are tools that users can integrate with their existing cloud data infrastructure to do things like control data access and use, continuously monitor data use, and detect anomalous or risky user behavior.
Unlike self-managed access control deployment methods, SaaS-based data security and access control requires minimal maintenance and can be up and running in minutes. Once integrated into an organization’s data ecosystem, SaaS-based data security platforms can become a one-stop shop for policy creation and enforcement, monitoring, and auditing purposes.
Benefits of SaaS-Based Data Security
The benefits of SaaS-based solutions in general are well documented, which is part of the reason they are so prominent in cloud computing. But without an efficient approach to data security and access control, even the most innovative tech stack will still face barriers. As data ecosystems become more diverse and complex, an agile solution that can scale data policy enforcement consistently across all platforms is imperative.
SaaS data security platforms do just that, helping to unlock data across enterprise data platforms such as Databricks, Snowflake, and more, so you can maximize the value of your current and future technology investments. Some of the key benefits of a SaaS-based data security solution include:
- Flexibility and Agility – Flexibility and agility are key tenets of any SaaS platform, but the impact is multiplied with data security. A SaaS data security solution allows you to implement, manage, and dynamically update access and security policies consistently across any cloud data platform, service, application, or location.
- Seamless Implementation and Scalability – A SaaS-based solution that separates policy from platform allows you to write policies once and enforce them across any cloud data platform. With many organizations adopting and integrating several SaaS applications, adding a security solution with similar functionality to the tech stack makes for a seamless user experience.
- Minimal Overhead – Unlike self-managed security and access solutions, SaaS versions are almost entirely maintained by the host. This vastly reduces the burden on data teams to keep up with infrastructure costs, maintenance, and upgrades. SaaS-based data security solutions roll out updates and bug fixes as soon as they are available, so users are always running on the most up-to-date version of the software.
- Increased Time to Value – Since SaaS platforms are built to deploy quickly, data teams are able to get up and running faster than would be possible with a self-managed. As a result, they are able to start creating and enforcing dynamic policies sooner, which in turn facilitates efficient, secure access to data. The sooner users are able to securely access data, the sooner they can start deriving value from it.
A SaaS data security platform delivers all the benefits of a typical SaaS solution, but uniquely delivers something that few others can on their own: accelerated time to value of all cloud data investments.
What to Look for in a SaaS Data Security Platform
As the need for scalable, cloud-based data access control quickly becomes an imperative, organizations are faced with a wide range of features and capabilities. How do you distinguish the must-haves from the nice-to-haves?
Perhaps the most important consideration for SaaS solutions – and the one that makes organizations most hesitant to invest in them – is security. As cloud adoption becomes increasingly mainstream, the ability to guarantee the security and privacy of cloud data remains a sticking point for some companies who are highly cautious about avoiding data leaks and breaches.
To mitigate any doubt, when choosing a SaaS access control platform, look for one that is SOC 2 Type 2 certified. A SOC 2 Type 2 certification indicates that an organization’s internal controls are sufficient to safeguard customer data. SOC 2 Type 2 reports are issued by independent third-party CPA auditing firms and include descriptions of the controls in place, the tests performed to assess them, the results of those tests, and a general evaluation of the controls’ designs and effectiveness. The areas that auditors assess include security, availability, processing integrity, confidentiality, and/or privacy, and audits are performed annually.
In addition to verifying data security measures through a SOC 2 Type 2 certification, SaaS-based solutions that store only required data and only for as long as is necessary can help mitigate the risk of unauthorized data access or use. For instance, Immuta stores just the metadata needed to make policy enforcement decisions, and holds customer data for only as long as its services are requested.
Finally, as with any other data platform investment, it’s critical that the SaaS security solution you choose is able to migrate an existing on-prem deployment to SaaS if necessary, and that it easily integrates with the rest of your data stack. Modernizing and connecting technologies across your data ecosystem is a best practice for ensuring you’re able to maximize the value of your cloud data.
SaaS-Based Data Security in Practice
How are modern teams implementing SaaS and achieving scalable, dynamic, and secure success?
For organizations like Pumpjack Dataworks, which enables customers like the NBA’s Dallas Mavericks to efficiently manage customer data, the ability to provide real-time access to data without sacrificing security made the decision to adopt Immuta’s SaaS data security deployment an easy one.
“Our customers demand strict requirements across governance, user access controls, anonymization, and audit capabilities, ensuring that a layer of trust and protection is extended across their global fan communities,” said Tom Tercek, Pumpjack Dataworks’ co-founder and chief strategy officer. “In this dynamic privacy environment,” he continued, “Immuta’s SaaS deployment enables us to provide the highest standards of protection for fan data.”
By applying a SaaS data security platform that could scale with customer and user needs, the Pumpjack team found themselves able to accelerate time-to-data for enhanced insights without risking the privacy or security of their customers. This is all managed in a way that ensures compliance with privacy laws and regulations, and can be adapted at will to account for any number of new regulatory needs. With SaaS data security, Pumpjack Dataworks can unlock data value at scale while remaining secure, compliant, and agile.
Implementing a SaaS-Based Data Security Platform
For organizations looking to streamline and scale efficient, secure data use in the cloud, a SaaS-based data security platform should be a key part of the data stack. A SaaS deployment method will help ensure data security and access control are able to keep up with the speed and flexibility of the cloud.
Tools like the Immuta Data Security Platform can help ensure that organizations are able to reap the benefits of low-maintenance data security and access controls that are easy to implement, while accelerating time-to-value – all with the peace of mind that security is robust and verifiable. It provides teams with dynamic data discovery, security, and detection capabilities across their cloud-based environment. As one of the only SaaS-based data security solutions on the market with a SOC 2 Type 2 certification, Immuta provides the flexibility, scalability, and speed that organizations need to keep up in today’s fast-paced, cloud-first world.
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