If you're of a certain age, you can still remember the lyrics to the theme song from The Fresh Prince of Bel Air. "I got into one little fight and my mom got scared." One fight and Will, the protagonist was sent from Philadelphia to Bel Air. IT security experts have their own theme song with the memorable line, "I sent one little piece of PII via clear text and now all my information is for sale on the dark web." Okay, maybe it's not as catchy. But the point is that one seemingly minor thing can result in hugely consequential problems. And this is a key reason that all SaaS startups worth their salt encrypt their data.
Indeed, encryption is a critical component of any SaaS security strategy. It helps protect sensitive data from unauthorized access, both while it is being transmitted over the internet and when it is stored on the provider’s servers. Here are some best practices for encryption with SaaS applications, along with the benefits of implementing them:
- Encrypt data in transit: Data should always be encrypted when it is transmitted between the user’s device and the SaaS provider’s servers. This can be achieved using protocols such as TLS (Transport Layer Security), which creates a secure, encrypted connection between the two endpoints. By encrypting data in transit, organizations can help prevent man-in-the-middle attacks and other forms of interception that could compromise the confidentiality of their data.
- Encrypt data at rest: Data stored on the provider’s servers should also be encrypted to protect it from unauthorized access. Many SaaS providers offer encryption capabilities to protect data at rest, and this feature should be explicitly enabled by the customer. By encrypting data at rest, organizations can help prevent unauthorized access to their data by hackers or other malicious actors who may gain access to the provider’s servers.
- Use strong encryption algorithms: When encrypting data, it is important to use strong encryption algorithms that are widely accepted as secure. AES (Advanced Encryption Standard) is one such algorithm that is commonly used for encrypting data at rest. By using strong encryption algorithms, organizations can help ensure that their data remains secure even if an attacker manages to gain access to it.
- Manage encryption keys securely: Encryption keys should be managed securely to prevent unauthorized access. This can be achieved using a centralized key management solution, where keys are stored in hardware security modules (HSMs) or other secure storage devices. By managing encryption keys securely, organizations can help prevent unauthorized access to their encrypted data.
By following these best practices for encryption with SaaS applications, organizations can help ensure that their sensitive data is protected from unauthorized access. (And keep it off a Dark Web digital garage sale.) The benefits of implementing these practices include improved security and compliance, reduced risk of data breaches, and increased trust from customers and partners. And I can pretty much guarantee it's going to be one of the key requirements on every IT Security Questionnaire. It is important to remember that encryption is just one component of a comprehensive SaaS security strategy, and other measures such as user authentication, access control, and monitoring should also be implemented to provide a multi-layered defense against security threats.