Why SaaS application security is taking centre stage for startups and medium businesses today

Why SaaS application security is taking centre stage for startups and medium businesses today

Monday November 02, 2020,

7 min Read

Fuelled by the need for agility and a growing emphasis on digitisation, cloud adoption and SaaS services have grown significantly across the globe, with a market value of over $100 billion in 2019. Back home in India, while SaaS was nearly unheard of a decade ago, today the country has a thriving SaaS ecosystem that is seeing fast-paced growth. Today, there are 8,000+ SaaS startups in India, of which 1,000+ generate over $1 million annual recurring revenue (ARR).

Amidst the pandemic, the SaaS industry has emerged as one of the most resilient and fastest-growing sectors. The advantages of scalability, low infrastructure needs and easy upgradation that SaaS businesses offer have come to the fore, driving SaaS adoption. Nasscom estimates the Indian SaaS industry’s revenues at $3.5 billion and forecasts that this number will grow six times by 2025.

The unspoken impact of better security

While all this signals a positive picture, which it is, on the sidelines the fast-paced growth of SaaS companies has created a catalytic effect for cyber attacks. The sector is increasingly becoming more vulnerable to cyber attacks of varying scale. While cyber attacks and data breaches related to big businesses have made it to the headlines, thousands of such attacks on smaller businesses have gone unnoticed. As per findings in the recent handbook titled “Cybersecurity for SMEs & Startups” by CyberPeace Foundation (CPF), startups and SMEs remain the most vulnerable segment in India when it comes to cyberattacks.

That’s why, in addition to aspects such as better scalability, agility, accessibility and speed of innovation, data security is becoming a key driver for SaaS adoption. This is a sharp contrast from the initial years where the pay-as-you-go model or speed of deployment was the key criteria for selection.

Reputational damage, the impact of cybersecurity on operations, is evident and well understood. But, what isn’t highlighted enough is how cybersecurity is becoming a strategic deal-breaker for SaaS companies today.

This emphasis on security as criteria for adoption is one of the most noticeable changes in the SaaS dynamics landscape. In fact, the early pointers towards this trend provided a solid foundation, based on which Indusface transitioned from being an idea on paper to building an actual product in the SaaS security space. The basic premise was to make it easy for SaaS businesses to provide security to their customers.

Why security is much more than risk mitigation or protection

Security is not just about risk mitigation to minimise the risk of compromise and attacks, but also as much about building lasting trust with customers.

With Chief Technology Officers (CTOs) and cybersecurity practitioners increasingly becoming involved in business decisions, they are able to clearly evaluate the security strengths of a SaaS company. In fact, conversations with CTOs and Chief Information Security Officers (CISOs) reveal that cybersecurity is a key criterion for evaluation while selecting a SaaS solution, and preference is given to those whose security capabilities are easily comprehendible.

When SaaS businesses are clearly able to bring out their security approach, there are far fewer hiccups, questions and objections which slow down the SaaS sales cycle. Analysing security risk is becoming part of the procurement process and a poor security posture translates into a silent deal-killer. Investors are also looking deeply into the security-readiness of a SaaS company, in addition to the traditional evaluation criteria. At the same time, it is seen that consumers also subscribe to SaaS businesses when they show and include and demonstrate proactive measures they have in place for mitigating risks.

To put it simply, the steps a SaaS business takes to mitigate risks simultaneously also enables it to build and enhance trust with customers, consumers and investors. All this calls for SaaS startups and medium businesses to put security at the core of their offerings, more than ever before.

In fact, leaders in the industry point out that the strength of cybersecurity of a SaaS company has moved from being a business enabler to that of an accelerator. NASSCOM President Debjani Ghosh was recently quoted as saying that cybersecurity is going to be the foundation on which the post-COVID 19 IT industry will be built. This underlines how security is increasingly becoming a strategic growth driver for SaaS businesses.

SaaS security: at the heart of the business

While the gamut of security is large, SaaS application security is at the core of security for SaaS businesses. This is because SaaS applications, which are key customer touch points, are at the very heart of the SaaS business. So, if you are able to secure the SaaS application, you inherently secure a large part of the SaaS business. This becomes all the more important given that most SaaS businesses host their applications on a public cloud which operate on a shared responsibility model for security. The cloud provider takes responsibility for the security of the infrastructure, and the application security becomes the responsibility of the SaaS business.

And, it is here a solution like Indusface becomes relevant. Given that security of the applications is the responsibility of the SaaS vendor, Indusface makes it easy to provide this capability to SaaS companies who, in turn, can provide it to their customers as part of their offering. This helps them build transparency and trust with their consumers.

Application security requires special expertise and skill sets and investing time on this can take the focus away from the core business. Indusface addresses this challenge by offering an integrated solution that provides complete risk detection, protection and full management as part of a single offering. This not only enables continuous protection against threats and visibility, but the 24x7 managed services ensure that SaaS businesses can focus on their core business and innovation.

Why we matter to SaaS startups

Traditionally, while large enterprises have been some of the earliest adopters of Indusface, today SMBs, more specifically SaaS startups, are emerging as key adopters. Our conversations with these SaaS companies indicate that in addition to the security capabilities of the solution, the managed service of Indusface’s offering is the most valued differentiator. They say they are willing to pay a premium for this as there is a direct benefit and the RoI of saved opportunity cost since they don’t have to invest time on this aspect. Larger organisations have their own CISO and security teams, and look at the managed service offering as an augmentation to their own team, whereas a SaaS business’s looks at Indusface as a partnership with a specialised application security vendor.

Today, we are are seeing HRTech, fintech, health tech and specialised e-commerce companies from all over the world signing up with us because of this bundled offering of technology with accurate risk detection, targeted and continuous risk protection and a managed services backend with 24x7 support to keep doing this on an ongoing basis.

Time and again, the reason why startups are increasingly onboarding Indusface is because of the promise of a fully managed application security. We enable this by providing continuous visibility of their current application security risks with actionable reporting so that they can take action to fix them with our Managed Web Application Scanner for on-demand security assessment. Our Managed Web Application Firewall ensures that the existing risks are instantly mitigated from external threats while the customer can take their time to fix it in code. Indusface provides ongoing 24x7 management and updates to ensure the risk detection and protection is continuously updated and in sync with changes in application as well as new threats.

To put it simply, by including the fully-managed service along with our application security products, Indusface offers an ongoing partnership relationship rather than a transactional technology sale with our customers, especially SaaS businesses, thereby enabling them to stay on top of their security game, serve their customers better, win trust and tap continuous growth.