Blogger app

Is 3rd party app access the new executable?

It’s no secret that third-party apps can increase productivity, enable remote and hybrid working, and are, overall, essential for creating and evolving a company’s work processes.

A harmless process much like clicking on an attachment was in the early days of email, people don’t hesitate to connect an app they need with their Google workspace or M365 environment, etc. updating a contact in the CRM, can lead to several other automatic actions and notifications in the connected platforms.

As shown in the image below, the OAuth mechanism makes it incredibly easy to interconnect applications and many do not consider what the possible ramifications might be. When these apps and other add-ons for SaaS platforms request access to permissions, they are usually granted without a second thought, providing more opportunities for bad actors to gain access to a company’s data. This exposes organizations to the risk of supply chain access attacks, API takeovers, and malicious third-party applications.

Oauth Mechanism Authorization Request

When it comes to local machines and executable files, organizations already have built-in control that allows security teams to block problematic programs and files. The same must be true for SaaS applications.

Learn how to gain visibility into your SaaS stack

How do third-party apps get access?

OAuth 2.0 has greatly simplified authentication and authorization, and offers fine-grained delegation of access rights. Represented as scopes, an application requests permission from the user for specific permissions. An application can request one or more scopes. Through scope trust, the user grants these applications permissions to execute code to execute behind-the-scenes logic in their environment. These applications can be harmless or as threatening as an executable file.

Click here to schedule a 15 minute demo to learn how to gain visibility on your SaaS applications

Best Practices to Mitigate the Risks of Accessing Third-Party Applications

To secure a company’s SaaS stack, the security team must be able to identify and monitor everything that is happening within its SaaS ecosystem. Here’s what a security team can share with employees and manage themselves to mitigate the risk of third-party application access.

1 Train employees of the organization

The first step in cybersecurity always comes down to awareness. Once employees become aware of the risks and dangers of these OAuth mechanisms, they will be more reluctant to use them. Organizations should also create a policy that requires employees to submit third-party app requests.

2 Gain visibility into third-party access for all business-critical applications

Security teams should have visibility into every business-critical application and review all of the different third-party applications that have been integrated with their business-critical SaaS applications – across all principles. One of the first steps to reducing the surface of the threat is to understand the whole environment.

3 Map permissions and access levels requested by connected third-party apps

Once the security team knows which third-party apps are connected, they need to map the permissions and type of access granted to each third-party app. From there, they will be able to see which third-party app poses a higher risk, based on the highest level of reach. Being able to tell the difference between an application that can read and an application that can write will help the security team prioritize what needs to be addressed first.

Additionally, the security team should identify the users who have been granted these permissions. For example, a high-privileged user, someone who has sensitive documents in their workspace, granting access to a third-party application could pose a high risk to the business and should be remedied immediately.

4 Benefit from the automated approach to manage access to third-party applications

SaaS security posture management solutions can automate the discovery of third-party applications. The right SSPM solution, like Adaptive Shield, has built-in logic that maps all third-party apps that have access to the organization’s built-in SSPM apps. This visibility and monitoring allows security teams so that whether a company has 100 or 600 applications, they can easily maintain control, monitor and secure their company’s SaaS stack.

The bigger picture of SaaS security

To secure a company’s SaaS stack, the security team must be able to identify and monitor everything that is happening within its SaaS ecosystem. Access to third-party applications is just one part of the SaaS security posture management picture.

Most existing cybersecurity solutions still don’t offer adequate protection or a convenient way to monitor a company’s SaaS stack, let alone communications between their known applications and platforms, leaving companies vulnerable and unable to know. or to effectively control which parties have access to sensitive corporate or personal data.

Organizations should be able to see all user configurations and permissions for every app, including any third-party apps that users have granted access to. This way, security teams can maintain control of the SaaS stack, troubleshoot any issues, block any applications using too many privileges, and mitigate their risk.

Learn how to secure your SaaS application stack