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SaaS Compliance through the NIST Cybersecurity Framework

The US National Institute of Standards and (NIST) framework is an essential set of guidelines for securing networks and is widely recognized worldwide. It applies to various applications, including Software-as-a-Service (SaaS). However, one of the primary challenges of securing SaaS applications is the different settings found in each application. It makes it challenging to a configuration policy that applies to an HR that manages employees, a marketing that contains content, and an R&D that works software versions while aligning with NIST compliance standards.

Despite the challenges, several settings can be applied to almost every in the SaaS stack. In this article, we'll explore some universal configurations, explain why they are crucial, and guide you in setting them in a way that improves your SaaS ' security posture.

First and foremost, Role-based access control (RBAC) is crucial in adhering to NIST compliance. It should be implemented in every SaaS . Two types of permissions exist within a SaaS application- Functional access and Data access permissions. Functional access covers tasks such as creating accounts and navigating the application. In contrast, data access permissions govern which users can retrieve and modify data. The admin account (or the super-admin account in some ) is the most sensitive, as it has full access to both permissions. Breaching an admin account can be catastrophic for organizations, as threat actors can access everything. Therefore, maintaining control over these accounts through configurations and best practices is paramount.

Implementing Limited Redundancy is also crucial. It's essential to have a minimum of two admins for every application, as this redundancy makes it difficult for a single admin to act against the organization's best interests. However, each admin increases the application's attack surface, and organizations must balance having enough admins to service the application while limiting exposure adequately. An automated review of the number of admins should trigger alerts when the number of admins is outside the preferred range.

Eliminating External Admins is another critical step in securing SaaS applications. External admins introduce a new layer of uncertainty into SaaS security. Because they sit outside the organization, the security team can't control the password policies or authentication tools they use. This lack of oversight of external users could lead to a profound breach of your SaaS application, which is why NIST advises against having external admins. Depending on the application, either block external admins from getting admin privileges or identify external users with admin rights and remove those privileges. Those individuals should not be considered shallow for companies that hire an external IT company or outsource to MSSPs (Managed Security Service Providers). However, they should continue to monitor for other external users being given admin permissions.

It is crucial to prioritize SaaS application security by implementing the appropriate configurations and best practices. By doing so, organizations can significantly reduce the risk of data breaches and safeguard their sensitive information.

Want to read more? Check out the original article available at The Hacker News!

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