Feeds

Putting the SaaS into security management

Or at least put it in the contract

  • alert
  • submit to reddit

The next step in data security

Hosted apps In all areas of business, security and privacy are built on good policy, properly applied. If you think moving to hosted services or software as a service (SaaS) changes this, then think again. While some aspects of security may be simplified, the cloud raises challenges in other areas.

From the perspective of systems administration, one area of security is much simpler to operate when using hosted and SaaS applications. The routine patching of the operating system, middleware and application becomes the concern of the service provider, thus relieving the in-house IT team of a number of processes. Delaying such tasks, as sometimes happens when resources are stretched, significantly increases the risk of security breaches.

The service provider should implement security patching as rapidly as possible, a matter which should be covered up front in discussions about service level agreements.

"Some vendors of SaaS maintain security policy databases that are not effectively integrated, producing a consistency nightmare."

Moving on to user and service provisioning, the primary requirement is to provide new users with appropriate access and, just as importantly, to remove access to the service, or parts of it, when they change jobs or leave.

One of the great selling points of many SaaS services is the speed with which they can provide access to services. But it is essential that whoever manages service provisioning understands the security and access requirements of the business. Deciding precisely what information and services Joyce in accounts or Brenda in HR can see remains the company’s responsibility.

Clearly, the implementation of access control relies on how well you capture your organisational structure and information management needs. Even more important is how well the tools provided with the service allow these to be translated into access control. This is familiar territory to those who routinely maintain Active Directory, LDAP or an equivalent directory system, but may be completely new to a line manager charged with controlling access to SaaS systems.

It is essential that the provider supplies effective solutions, preferably ones that can integrate with in-house systems. Some vendors of SaaS and hosted services maintain security policy databases that are not effectively integrated, producing a consistency nightmare. As we know, and as readers of the Register have told us, the best way to achieve security is to avoid fragmentation of policy and maintenance.

Defining standards for all areas of security must form part of contractual agreements. Unless the IT department is involved in discussions before things kick off, some security criteria may be compromised.

It is worth remembering that people are often the weakest link in every system. Users must be made aware of all the company’s working practices and expectations on the use of its applications, irrespective of whether systems are run internally or provided by a third party.

Cloud doesn’t make all this stuff go away, and may even aggravate it as users share more easily and access services from any web browser. Thinking about the human element is therefore as critical in any SaaS deployment as it is in traditional IT. ®

Security for virtualized datacentres

More from The Register

next story
New 'Cosmos' browser surfs the net by TXT alone
No data plan? No WiFi? No worries ... except sluggish download speed
'Windows 9' LEAK: Microsoft's playing catchup with Linux
Multiple desktops and live tiles in restored Start button star in new vids
iOS 8 release: WebGL now runs everywhere. Hurrah for 3D graphics!
HTML 5's pretty neat ... when your browser supports it
'People have forgotten just how late the first iPhone arrived ...'
Plus: 'Google's IDEALISM is an injudicious justification for inappropriate biz practices'
Mathematica hits the Web
Wolfram embraces the cloud, promies private cloud cut of its number-cruncher
Mozilla shutters Labs, tells nobody it's been dead for five months
Staffer's blog reveals all as projects languish on GitHub
SUSE Linux owner Attachmate gobbled by Micro Focus for $2.3bn
Merger will lead to mainframe and COBOL powerhouse
iOS 8 Healthkit gets a bug SO Apple KILLS it. That's real healthcare!
Not fit for purpose on day of launch, says Cupertino
Not appy with your Chromebook? Well now it can run Android apps
Google offers beta of tricky OS-inside-OS tech
prev story

Whitepapers

Secure remote control for conventional and virtual desktops
Balancing user privacy and privileged access, in accordance with compliance frameworks and legislation. Evaluating any potential remote control choice.
WIN a very cool portable ZX Spectrum
Win a one-off portable Spectrum built by legendary hardware hacker Ben Heck
Intelligent flash storage arrays
Tegile Intelligent Storage Arrays with IntelliFlash helps IT boost storage utilization and effciency while delivering unmatched storage savings and performance.
High Performance for All
While HPC is not new, it has traditionally been seen as a specialist area – is it now geared up to meet more mainstream requirements?
Beginner's guide to SSL certificates
De-mystify the technology involved and give you the information you need to make the best decision when considering your online security options.