Securing SaaS data: balancing app agility with robust protection

Securing SaaS data: balancing app agility with robust protection

There's a growing reliance on SaaS platforms for mission-critical applications, but do they include the data protection measures you need?

Published on 1st June 2023

In recent years, Software-as-a-Service (SaaS) solutions have become increasingly important for the day-to-day running of millions of organisations.

Platforms such as Salesforce, Google Workspace and Microsoft Office 365 have delivered rapid growth, not least because they can offer cost-effective, easily scalable and accessible remote collaboration environments.

This is part of a wider trend across the technology industry, which has seen major providers such as Microsoft and Adobe transition from traditional software licensing models to subscription-based services. This has helped SaaS solutions become even more attractive to smaller organisations with limited internal resources and software budgets.

The result of these various trends is that the SaaS market is expected to reach nearly $200 billion in value this year – up from $146 billion just two years ago. But despite the many advantages SaaS offers, however, it remains just as important to protect the data stored on these platforms as it always has been with traditional non-SaaS counterparts.

Indeed, many organisations now rely on SaaS technologies for mission-critical applications but do so without implementing any additional data protection measures, choosing instead to rely on the provider’s platform. At a time of increasing cybersecurity risk, however, SaaS-protection solutions have become an important component of a rounded data protection and disaster recovery strategy.

Navigating the Complexities of SaaS Data Protection

In practical terms, the security measures provided by SaaS vendors often lack comprehensive protection for user data compared to the performance of their own data centre or private cloud infrastructure. For example, existing data protection solutions offered by SaaS vendors often have limited features, are difficult to use and do not meet the standards generally expected of professional enterprise data protection.

Moreover, organisations using multiple SaaS solutions – and there are a great many – have seen a huge growth in shadow IT. In this situation, traditional technology procurement, implementation and management processes are circumvented in favour of quick and convenient subscription-based solutions.

In 2021, for instance, organisations worldwide were using an average of 110 SaaS applications, according to research. Elsewhere, a 2023 study revealed that organisations are now using 130 apps on average – up 18% since last year. Nearly two-thirds of these are unsanctioned purchases, while nearly half of the respondents in the study said they had added a new SaaS app that was storing sensitive data during the previous 12 months.

In response, IT teams may find themselves in the position of needing to implement a variety of backup solutions with distinct features, pricing structures and user interfaces. This adds to the complexity and administration overheads for technologies that are intended to be easy to manage.

In addition, many SaaS solutions employ a shared responsibility model whereby customers remain accountable for their own data security. As a result of these various factors, many organisations are now searching for ways to more effectively secure and back up the data they have hosted on SaaS platforms.

Leveraging Vendor-Agnostic SaaS Backup Solutions

To address these challenges, vendor-agnostic SaaS backup solutions are emerging as a valuable option by offering data backup and protection for a wide range of SaaS platforms, including Microsoft 365, Salesforce, and Azure Active Directory. By employing a single solution for these and other platforms, organisations can safeguard large portions of their SaaS-based data without incurring significant additional costs, functional complexity or admin overheads.

What’s more, storing these backups in an independent cloud dedicated to data protection, rather than relying on large hyperscalers, gives organisations greater control over their data. In particular, this approach facilitates the creation of multiple copies of data in various locations, enhancing security while also helping users avoid what can be unexpected and often significant egress charges often associated with public clouds following any data restoration process.

In selecting an appropriate solution, organisations should look for features such as immutable backups, which are highly effective in protecting data from the risks associated with ransomware. Given the dangers it presents, ensuring that stored data remains secure regardless of potential disruptions is crucial to business continuity planning.

The widespread adoption of SaaS solutions means they become mission-critical for many organisations, and data protection has become particularly important given rising security risks and the increasing role played by regulation and compliance rules. But, by securing their data with the same rigour as their non-SaaS applications via a third-party, vendor agnostic and independent solution, IT teams can move forward with their SaaS strategies with much greater confidence. In an era where organisations must balance technology agility with effective data protection and disaster recovery, doing nothing is no longer an option.


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