Data ASaaSsins: Threats That Can Cause Data Loss and Hurt Your Business

Over the last couple of decades, Software-as-a-Service (SaaS) has emerged as a way of life for many organizations. What initially started as a cost-effective solution for small and midsize businesses (SMBs) is now creating a lasting impact on the digital transformation journey of both SMBs and large enterprises. The technological advancements — in terms of infrastructure and tools — have also contributed to its gradual rise. Since the COVID-19 pandemic, the acceptance of SaaS has increased substantially. As per a report by Gartner, Inc., worldwide end-user spending on public cloud services is expected to increase to nearly $600 million by 2023.

With SaaS being regarded as the go-to solution for most businesses, an organization’s mission-critical data in SaaS platforms is subject to high exposure. Keep in mind that SaaS data loss is not a matter of “if” it will occur but rather “when.” It occurs due to a variety of factors and often when you least expect it. That’s why organizations like yours must be well-prepared to overcome SaaS data disasters to ensure business continuity.

Read on to learn about the various “data aSaaSsins” responsible for SaaS data loss. Find out about the threats they pose to your business and how you can overcome them to minimize downtime and maximize productivity.

SaaS – A brief overview

SaaS is a cloud-based software model that delivers applications to users over the internet for a subscription fee. As a result, you don’t need to install and run any software application on your device. You can access the software conveniently and log into your account via a web browser anytime.

Emergence of SaaS and its widespread popularity

Although the SaaS model was gradually coming into the limelight, the onset of COVID-19 accelerated its adoption rate among both SMBs and large enterprises. The challenge to enable a remote workforce, which became relevant during the pandemic, was solved via cloud services.  It’s expected that SaaS adoption will continue to increase as time progresses.

Remote interaction has become part and parcel of the work culture in the post-pandemic era. It is here where the SaaS industry comes in and fulfils the needs. The disruptions due to the pandemic worked as a wake-up call for organizations, resulting in rapid migration to the cloud in an effort to revamp their IT infrastructure to support the hybrid work model and stay in the competition. Moreover, the agility and scalability of cloud-based SaaS model motivated about 70% of CIOs to opt for one.

Why opt for SaaS?

Nearly 78% of small businesses have already invested in SaaS applications. Much of its popularity is due to its ease of use, cost-efficiency, flexibility and ability to collaborate effectively.

The pay-as-you-go pricing model of SaaS applications allows businesses to reduce costs. That’s because they only have to pay for the software they’re using and not waste money on unused licensing. SaaS applications can be easily accessed from anywhere, anytime, and from any device with an internet connection. The ability to push feature improvements, bug fixes and security updates with on-premise deployments was previously required to pass through several layers of organizational protocols and governance before reaching the end users. Now, SaaS vendors can push this on the fly.

A SaaS model brings down the software deployment time from several weeks and days to a few minutes since it delivers higher strategic value compared to on-premise software deployments.

Risks and pitfalls

Despite all the benefits, there are some chinks in the armor of the SaaS application model. When businesses use a SaaS data solution, they work under the “shared responsibility model.” This means the security of your critical data is the joint responsibility of both you and your cloud service provider. Despite being liable for data protection, many organizations fail to protect their SaaS data since they falsely believe the solution provider protects their data and it is unnecessary to back up their SaaS data.

SaaS vendors like Microsoft, Google and Salesforce have data centers with world-class disaster recovery capabilities to protect from hardware and software failures, power outages and natural disasters. However, they can’t protect you from the most common causes of data loss, such as human error, malware and ransomware attacks, and data theft via threat actors.

Meet the “data aSaaSsins”

Some of the most common causes of SaaS data loss are due to the “data aSaaSsins.” These are nefarious characters who, both knowingly and unknowingly, cause disruption, downtime and data loss. ASaaSsins lurk in the dark corners of cyberspace and prey upon your valuable data or else they’re seemingly harmless employees who unknowingly mess with your SaaS data, resulting in expensive consequences.

Let’s delve a little deeper to understand these “data aSaaSsins” better and the threats they pose to your business.

ASaaSsins hiding in wait

The true nature of an assassin is to operate in the shadows. Through the use of deception, they intentionally mess with your data, costing you time and money. This is detrimental to your productivity, compliance and business continuity.

Here are a few denizens of the “dark side” you should be wary of.

Malicious insider

A malicious insider is someone with inside knowledge of an organization’s confidential information who exploits it for his/her own benefit and negatively impacts the integrity of the business.

They are the most common threat actors since they are involved in nearly 25% of all electronic crime events. It could be an employee who deletes important company records to breach compliance regulation, a recently fired employee who sells sensitive data to a competitor as an act of vengeance or a disgruntled employee exposing trade secrets to the public.

Around 98% of organizations say they feel vulnerable to insider threats. Backstabbing is always a possibility so keeping a tab on any act that arouses suspicion is the right thing to do here. Follow the signs and save your company from yelling “You too, Brutus!” in despair.

Hackers

Meet the geeky hotshots of the world of aSaaSsins, those who spread viruses, malware and ransomware to steal IPs, perpetuate business email compromise and drain finances from organizations through theft or extortion. They mainly look for personally identifiable information (PIIs), Payment Card Industry (PCI) data, valuable intellectual property and health information.

In recent years, the pace of data theft has gone up due to the rise in remote work, with SaaS and cloud data is increasingly targeted. According to the State of SaaS Ransomware Attack Preparedness survey, ransomware attacks targeting SaaS data are most likely to be successful, with 52% of them penetrating enterprise defenses.

Dark web merchants

These are shady traders who frequent the dark web, selling user credentials (and more) within this hidden underbelly of the internet. They help hackers and other criminal organizations who visit these dark dungeons of the virtual world, and enable the future success of account takeover (ATO) and business email compromise (BEC) attacks.

These merchants sell stolen credentials as individual records or in large datasets to be leveraged by hackers for future attacks. Dark web monitoring provides a crucial layer of security and allows you to remain extra vigilant.

ASaaSsins hiding in plain sight

To err is human. Many users might get access to your data accidentally, costing you time and money. Due to their mistakes, these seemingly harmless individuals take actions and make costly mistakes to the detriment of your business productivity and continuity.

Here are some errors you certainly wouldn’t want to encounter:

End-user error

Accidental data deletion by a user is the most common cause of data loss and can have huge consequences. Sometimes, these users click on suspicious emails despite being warned multiple times or even visit questionable websites, putting their network and devices at high risk. Using the same passwords across all platforms is another bad habit they exercise.

According to a Google survey, 13% of users utilized the same password for every account and an additional 52% used the same password for multiple accounts, showing how commonplace such negligence can be. It is only through proper training that human error in data handling can be minimized while automation can ensure minimal interaction of humans with data. This can reduce the fear of human error to some extent.

Programmatic error

The actors that commit this kind of error are lethargic souls who tend to write apps and scripts in a defective manner, causing sync errors. They also tend to create scripts for home-grown solutions that don’t meet the criteria for listing on Microsoft App Store or Google Workspace Marketplace.

Administrative error

The ones responsible for these errors generally inconvenience organizations by accidentally deleting user accounts and stored team documents. Due to their haphazard approach, they tend to configure policies and scripts incorrectly, resulting in data deletion and corruption.

Get end-to-end data protection from these “aSaaSsins” with Spanning 360

With so much complexity in the data security ecosystem, most organizations fail to understand the value of having an integrated solution. Keeping all these aSaaSsins at bay can be an overwhelming task. However, with Spanning 360, you can prevent, anticipate and mitigate account compromise and data loss caused by any threat actor.

Trusted by over 10,000 organizations, Spanning 360 provides enterprise-class, end-to-end protection for Microsoft 365 and Google Workspace data loss. It provides protection from sophisticated cyberattacks and all kinds of data aSaaSsins, improving business continuity and organizational resiliency.

Discover how you can safeguard your critical SaaS data from all these data aSaaSsins with Spanning 360.

Learn more about Spanning 360