As a decision-maker in a SaaS startup, you might often find that your application security strategy is not getting the attention it deserves. There can be several pertinent reasons for this to occur. It is especially seen in rapidly startups where the focus is more on product innovation and enhancements and customer satisfaction.
However, in order to build a trusted and competitive business, it is imperative that careful considerations are given in regards security testing or penetration testing of the applications and software.
In this article, we take a detailed look at 3 of the main security testing roadblocks that are commonly faced by SaaS startups. We also explore why it is important to invest in penetration testing for sustainable success.
Here are the main roadblocks faced by startups when it comes to security testing:
1. Limited Resource Allocation for Security Testing
For most SaaS startups, the business focus lies on increasing their revenue generation. The limited resources that are available are hence dedicated to aspects like product development and innovation. As a result, security takes a back seat. Additionally, a large number of these startups do not have any personnel or role dedicated to security. This means that security is often a grey area and is often handled by individuals who are not fully equipped for the task.
All these factors make it especially difficult to have a substantial security budget and a detailed strategy in place, which often leaves security testing on the back burner. But here’s the catch. When startups invest in pentesting, they can actually pitch for and acquire investments, enter into new beneficial deals and partnerships, and most importantly, sell these solutions to big clients.
Most large organizations mandate pen testing on software as a condition for partnership to minimize their risks of being exposed to security threats from SaaS applications. Thus, while allocating resources from your limited budget for security testing might seem counter-intuitive, in reality, it is a necessity. Pen testing investments pave the path for new opportunities, more investments, and ultimately more resources for innovation.
2. SaaS Developers Are Not Focused On Security
It is common for developers to not be geared to have a security focus. This primarily stems from the fact that developers usually have limited knowledge about application security and are not conversant about security frameworks like the OWASP top 10. Hence, they often feel that their security measures are good enough, when they are in fact insufficient and leaving them exposed to potentially costly incidents.
Another mostly psychological issue is that developers tend to be on the defensive when it comes to receiving feedback from security testing about their products. This is quite normal, especially when you consider the fact that developers work hard night and day to launch a new solution or application. They might feel that their code is secure and hence, would not actively seek out pen testing since that can result in major code changes to improve security.
When you include regular penetration tests as part of your security strategy, you not only implement industry best practices but also help to create more awareness around the importance of secure software development. With regular and continued implementation of security testing practices, developers learn more about the potential security threats they could introduce and begin to understand the value of securing new features. Eventually, you can create a culture where teams will be able to ask and answer basic questions regarding application security.
When developers are trained and have a security focus, they can take care of minor threats right away. This prevents small problems from becoming big issues later, down the road. Another helpful practice to ensure more involvement from developers is to have them assess the possibility of fixing code with a potential security threat and discuss the impact with others on the team. This not only creates accountability but also is effective since the developers are in the best position to assess the feasibility of changing codes to avoid a security concern.
But for all this to happen, the primary focus should be on carrying out security testing of the SaaS applications to discover any hidden vulnerabilities and highlight insecure development practices before they pile up.
3. They Cannot Afford To Fix Every Vulnerability
A common roadblock for startups when it comes to application security is that it not feasible to address and fix each and every vulnerability. With the availability of limited resources, you will have to accept the fact that security gaps are inevitable. This is even the case for larger organizations with hundreds of employees. However, in such a scenario, it is extremely crucial to prioritize which vulnerabilities need to be addressed first.
An effective practice in this regard is to ask yourself whether you can justify to your customers and stakeholders why you chose to address a concern over another one, should the threat become publicly known, a common practice for organizations like Adobe. A penetration test will allow you to categorize the vulnerabilities per risk level (For e.g. as Critical-High-Medium-Low) and help with your risk-management strategy.
Penetration testing, thus allows you to identify the threats, allocate resources appropriately, and protect your customers from exposure to these threats.
Overcome These Security Testing Roadblocks
Security roadblocks like those mentioned above, while common, can be effectively addressed with some careful and strategic planning. SaaS startups that can manage to do so always gain a sustainable advantage over their competitors.
That is why we have developed dedicated solutions that help them identify and address their vulnerabilities and cybersecurity concerns effectively. Our Pentest for Startups program is specifically designed for SaaS startups and facilitates them to carry out security tests for their solutions at a reduced cost.