3 SaaS sectors most at risk of cyberattacks and how SOC 2 compliance can help
If there was a SaaS-minded hip-hop star, we might all be singing “mo data, mo problems.” Despite exponential innovation in the last couple decades, the miracle of online business is relatively new. We’re still collectively figuring it out, and so are the bad actors behind security breaches, phishing, and ransomware.
Potential security risks exist in between the shadowy fault lines of digital transformation—especially for newcomers of the SaaS grind with limited cash flow. For startup founders and CEOs, it can be challenging to judge where to allocate time and resources. Investors, product design, and hiring talent are all important, but creating a culture of security from the start is also essential.
3 SaaS sectors commonly targeted by cybercriminals
It’s essential that your company and its leaders understand the specific risks and compliance needs associated with your industry. Doing business online is risky in general, but if your company exists in one of the below sectors, security becomes much more important.
Healthcare businesses and institutions—large and small—are under direct fire from cyber attackers. According to ECRI’s 2022 list of top 10 health technology hazards, cybersecurity took the number one spot. One reason healthcare organizations are a target is because of outdated technological infrastructures. Multi-hospital networks with poor security are easy targets, especially in the face of ransomware attacks.
In 2021, Scripps, a San Diego-based hospital system, lost $112.7 million in revenue due to a cyberattack. To add insult to injury, patients and staff were forced to regress to paper documents and forms. For experienced hackers, devices of all kinds can be easy targets for malicious intent. This means that cyber attacks not only cause financial harm, they can cause physical damage as well, making security in this industry absolutely critical.
Cyber attackers seeking a substantial pay day are going right to the source—financial institutions. In 2021, Keeper Security reported that 70% of financial services organizations experienced a cyberattack in the past 12 months. Despite high regulation in this sector, technological and societal changes are leaving many financial businesses vulnerable.
Consumers are gravitating toward mobile banking and on-the-go financing. As consumers enjoy the benefits of a new kind of financial marketplace, the pressure remains on providers. Attackers are using various tactics including phishing, ransomware, and one particularly brutal strategy (which spiked during COVID-19), Distributed Denial-of-Service (DDoS).
Analytics, IT, and automation
The U.S. government classifies “Information Technology” as one of the 16 most vital sectors to national security. If data is the new crude oil, then analytics must certainly be the refined version. Companies have known for a while that data is valuable, but many are still figuring out how to use it. It makes sense that the art of interpreting data and analytics has become a blossoming startup sector all on its own.
Since analytics, IT, and automation platforms typically interface with customer tech stacks, a cyberattack on one company means an attack on, well, all of them. If companies want to enter the analytics space, they’ll need to prioritize security to ensure all that data is protected.
How can SOC 2 compliance make your company more secure?
Among U.S. businesses, a SOC 2 certification demonstrates a commitment to keep customers, vendors, employees, and their data, safe from cybersecurity threats. A SOC 2 certification doesn’t mean your company is invulnerable, it means there are strong protocols and controls in place that reliably fortify its security posture. In short, it’s a badge of security honor others will recognize and admire because it’s rigorous and detailed. But there are plenty of measures your company can take before you pursue a SOC 2.
Best security practices for any organization
Startups existing in the above sectors will be subject to the unique demands and risks of their industries, but there are many best practices that every business should follow. Here are just a few.
- Control access points across your company: Knowing who has access to what is critical. This also enables you to store your most precious information in one place with limited access. If something does go wrong, you won’t have to scramble to patch your system.
- Monitor and protect employees: Simple things like single sign-on tools can make a big difference in your security posture. Assigning admins, managing mobile devices, and leveraging multi-factor authentication are also essential.
- Modernize your defenses: Human error is simply non-negotiable. Even a skilled security manager can sometimes miss something. Incorporating a continuous automation security system into your company is not only secure, it can save you time and money.
Your company might already have many of these security measures in place, but earning a SOC 2 certification gives you a stamp of approval from an external expert known as an auditor. It also opens the door for business deals with enterprise companies who may require proof of cyber responsibility. If your company’s security measures could be better, and you don’t know where to start, implementing SOC 2’s standards will be your yellow brick road to better security.
PCI Compliance Selection Guide
Determine Your PCI Compliance Level
If your organization processes, stores, or transmits cardholder data, you must comply with the Payment Card Industry Data Security Standard (PCI DSS), a global mandate created by major credit card companies. Compliance is mandatory for any business that accepts credit card payments.
When establishing strategies for implementing and maintaining PCI compliance, your organization needs to understand what constitutes a Merchant or Service Provider, and whether a Self Assessment Questionnaire (SAQ) or Report on Compliance (ROC) is most applicable to your business.
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Does your business offer services to customers who are interested in your level of PCI compliance?
Identify your PCI SAQ or ROC level
The PCI Security Standards Council has established the below criteria for Merchant and Service Provider validation. Use these descriptions to help determine the SAQ or ROC that best applies to your organization.
Good news! Vanta supports all of the following compliance levels:
A SAQ A is required for Merchants that do not require the physical presence of a credit card (like an eCommerce, mail, or telephone purchase). This means that the Merchant’s business has fully outsourced all cardholder data processing to PCI DSS compliant third party Service Providers, with no electronic storage, processing, or transmission of any cardholder data on the Merchant’s system or premises.
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A SAQ A-EP is similar to a SAQ A, but is a requirement for Merchants that don't receive cardholder data, but control how cardholder data is redirected to a PCI DSS validated third-party payment processor.
Learn more about eCommerce PCI
A SAQ D includes over 200 requirements and covers the entirety of PCI DSS compliance. If you are a Service Provider, a SAQ D is the only SAQ you’re eligible to complete.
Use our PCI checklist
A Report on Compliance (ROC) is an annual assessment that determines your organization’s ability to protect cardholder data. If you’re a Merchant that processes over six million transactions annually or a Service Provider that processes more than 300,000 transactions annually, your organization is responsible for both a ROC and an Attestation of Compliance (AOC).
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