How to Combat SaaS Security Risks

Software as a Service, or SaaS has become one of the most often used tools for many businesses. As with most tools, there are some risks to with the rewards that users should consider before making a commitment to the transition, and before committing to a particular provider. Most of these risks can be reduced by understanding them, and other risks can even be eliminated just by knowing they exist. A good IT team can make this process easier.

Two Most Common Risks

Depending on your perspective and the safety of your own technology, the two biggest risks reported are data safety and downtime. These two risks are not closely related. One is focused solely on protecting an organization’s own data. Just as importantly, the other is focused on potential lost business due to downed technology.

Downtime

No matter how good a product or service is, if a company is relying on SaaS, it doesn’t matter if the program is down. This means that customers can’t give you business and money. The only way to ensure that the system you provide will be reliable is to investigate the company and its history of keeping customers online. If a company can keep its customers online 99.9% of the time over the course of a year, that is still nine hours of downtime.

There are sources that will allow organizations to check and ensure that they are working with companies with a good reputation for keeping online. Salesforce.com will show a 30 day history reporting the amount of time they are online. Before signing with a company, find out if they include maintenance as part of their downtime. If a provider will keep you offline for one day every quarter doing routine maintenance, perhaps you should determine if you can do better.

Data Security

Anytime you are not the sole entity responsible for data that passes through your organization, you need to make sure that data is protected. If there is a breach and data stolen, you will be held responsible, therefore it is you who needs to ensure the people you count on can deserve that trust. Get references and call them, and don’t leave any questions unanswered.

Advantages of SaaS

Of course, there are advantage to using SaaS. Some of the advantages are the concerns and risks that organizations have that have been turned around. It is up to an IT department to ensure that due diligence is completed so everyone feels comfortable that the service provided can produce expected and needed results.

Downtime, as an Advantage

Downtime is not an advantage, but when using an SaaS application, there will a commitment that your information will be accessible. This is an uptime commitment. There are often penalties built in for providers who cannot meet these expectations, so most providers are successful. Staying connected means profits are still earned.

Another advantage to SaaS is that it costs less to get started. There will be no big up-front fee for licensing. The services provided by SaaS applications are usually licensed on an annual fee basis. Initially, these fees are lower. But, it is possible that over time, these fees will accumulate to a higher amount.

IT departments, or others in a company, won’t have to install patches when upgrades need to be made or bugs need to be fixed. Vendors make the upgrades for all of their customers back at the source. There may be some higher fees for these maintenance services when the subscription is determined. However, many organizations believe that peace of mind they receive makes that tradeoff worth it.

Many organizations have reported that it is faster to get people involved with new applications. Although there may be some prep work by internal IT staff, many providers have their own IT staff do most or even all of the work in preparation. The best thing for internal IT pros is that the important computing systems are kept someplace else. That way, if there are problems then someone else is responsible for fixing them. More importantly, this party is responsible for doing the work needed to avoid those problems in the first place.

Finally, as a company grows, shrinks, or simply changes focus, they won’t need to add a lot of hardware or worry that they are wasting previously purchased hardware. This solution is scalable, which makes it more convenient, and in many ways more financially responsible.

Most things we do in life, especially in business has an upside and a downside. SaaS is no exception to the rule. Each business considering a transition to SaaS needs to ensure the company they are considering can give them the support and the confidence that they need to move forward.