SSPM and SaaS Identity Risk Management

Sep 5, 2023

Sep 5, 2023

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7 minutes

SSPM solutions are one facet of a broader enterprise SaaS security issue. SaaS-Identity risk management is an emerging principle the focuses on the intersection of identities and SaaS apps, mitigating risk at the most foundational level — accounts and access.

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Josh Mayfield
VP, Product Marketing
SSPM and SaaS Identity Risk Management
This webinar will cover:

Why Do You Need SaaS Security Posture Management?

In today's digital landscape, many organizations heavily depend on Software as a Service (SaaS) for crucial business operations, necessitating the use of SaaS Security Posture Management (SSPM) tools. SSPM solutions, while integral, represent just one facet of a broader issue of SaaS-Identity risk management. SaaS-Identity risk management is an emerging principle the focuses on the intersection of identities and SaaS apps, mitigating risk at the most foundational level — accounts and access.  

The Significance of SaaS Security and Identity Risks

The growing prevalence of remote workforces, access from anywhere and to anything shifts organizations toward cloud solutions — specifically SaaS services, web apps, and business-led IT strategies.

Comprehending SaaS Security Posture Management (SSPM)

Naturally, most security teams acknowledge that SaaS services have become pivotal for business operations. Since these applications are cloud-based, they necessitate a specific security posture that allows enterprises to work efficiently while reducing their risk profile. SSPM refers to a collection of automated security tools and processes devised to monitor and manage threats within SaaS applications. SSPM focuses on resolving these key issues:

  1. Configuration: Ensuring the correct and secure setup of applications.
  1. Privileges: Identifying excessive administrator permissions among end users.
  1. Access: Determining who can access the application, including integrations or service accounts.
  1. Activity: Monitoring the usage patterns of the application.

How SSPM Operates

While each SaaS application differs, SSPM provides a uniform approach to risk management. SSPM solutions seamlessly integrate into the interface of a SaaS application, scanning it for user permissions or configurations that deviate from internal policies or regulatory guidelines. The benefits of SSPM encompass:

  1. Enhanced visibility within the SaaS layer.
  1. Augmented security.
  1. Activity monitoring.
  1. Cost savings.

SSPM is a valuable component within SaaS-Identity risk management, but it should not be considered a standalone solution.

Limitations of SSPM within SaaS-Identity Risk Management

Although SSPM offers valuable features, it's not without its limitations. SaaS applications are dynamic, often customizable, and developers frequently release patches and updates. This rapid pace of SaaS development can challenge SSPM solutions in keeping up while also ensuring seamless integration with other security solutions.  

Furthermore, even if SSPM identifies and rectifies misconfigurations, it doesn't provide comprehensive identity control or impose restrictions on what end users can upload or download from an application. This leaves a significant risk wherein contractors, consultants, interns, or former employees could potentially misuse sensitive company data.

Moreover, while cloud computing is efficient, it carries a single point of failure (SPOF) risk. Without built-in hardware and software redundancies, a malfunctioning switch or router could disrupt access to SaaS applications.

Why (Most) SSPM Solutions Falls Short

Unfortunately, relying solely on SSPM leaves exposures in identity and SaaS security. SSPM help with misconfigurations but may not provide insights into the specific users with SaaS and cloud accounts, let alone being able to identify when users create new accounts, share credentials, or abandon SaaS apps that were never connected to SSPM or even known to the security or identity teams.  

Additionally, depending on your chosen SSPM, you may encounter incomplete support for certain applications, resulting in gaps in your security framework and heightened risk exposure.

Whether you are a nimble startup or a multinational conglomerate, chances are you rely on various SaaS solutions. This entails managing numerous applications housing sensitive information, including identity sprawl, risky retained (dangling) access, and susceptibility to weak credentials.  

The Identity Side of SaaS-Identity Risk Management

One prominent approach to Identity and Access Management (IAM) is the concept of the identity fabric. Essentially, it's a decentralized framework that amalgamates diverse IAM tools to oversee access across a spectrum of cloud computing services. Key components of an identity fabric encompass:

  1. Centralized administration of user identities and access levels.
  1. Augmented visibility and threat detection across SaaS applications and on-premise tools.
  1. Streamlined user authentication and authorization protocols.
  1. A heightened adherence to internal policies and regulatory standards, such as GDPR.

The ultimate objective of an identity fabric is to mitigate risk exposure by maintaining a consistent approach to identity security throughout the organization.

Exposures Within the SaaS-Identity Risk Landscape

The SaaS-Identity risk landscape is unique to each enterprise and the last frontier of exposure when left unguarded. Modern work and business-led IT strategies create the conditions for the expansion of SaaS services, accounts among users, and enterprise identity perimeter. Some of these exposures include:

  1. Shadow SaaS: Certain SaaS applications may be sanctioned, controlled, and monitored by your IT department. However, business-led IT initiatives can introduce shadow SaaS—applications that various teams install and utilize without IT's knowledge or oversight. This clandestine usage could unwittingly expose your organization to security breaches and data loss.
  1. Shared or Dangling Access: Despite training on best practices, individuals often resort to weak or duplicate passwords. Worse still, a department or team might share a set of credentials to access a SaaS application. In the absence of a centralized onboarding and offboarding policy, former employees or contractors might retain access to SaaS programs and, consequently, sensitive data even after leaving the organization.

Leveraging Grip for SaaS-Identity Risk Management

Grip's SaaS Security Control Plane (SSCP) distinguishes itself by offering comprehensive visibility across the SaaS-Identity risk landscape. Security and IT teams leverage Grip’s advanced email analysis and integrations with identity security systems to identify all web apps, SaaS, and cloud accounts being used and how users access them. Grip’s AI-powered processing can analyze emails and detect SaaS events gathered from additional systems to provide a comprehensive view of the security posture of SaaS identify risks — including each time and corporate identity is used online.

Discover All SaaS Usage

Grip provides a comprehensive and automated discovery process that uncovers all SaaS apps and cloud accounts used within the organization. No apps or accounts remain hidden.

Prioritize SaaS Identity Risks

Security teams can prioritize risks based on their severity and potential impact on the organization's security posture. High priority issues can be addressed promptly.

Secure Shadow SaaS and Rogue Cloud Accounts

Grip actively detects and secures shadow SaaS applications and rogue cloud accounts that often go undetected. Providing visibility allows security teams to take action and reduce costs.

Orchestrate Risk Mitigation or Remediation

Grip provides actionable steps security teams can take in response to identified risks. It offers automated incident response capabilities, enabling rapid and effective resolution of risks. 

Grip simplifies and secures the intersection of SaaS services and enterprise identities, enabling the most value from SSPM tools with continuous discovery, analysis, and tracking to mitigate SaaS-Identity risk.


The rapid evolution of identity management, driven by continuous technological advances, has brought about a new era marked by complexity and vulnerability. What were once simple identities have now multiplied, forming a complex mosaic that attracts potential attackers, targeting the intersection of SaaS accounts and enterprise identities.  

Despite increased investments in SSPM, SaaS risks persist, highlighting the undeniable reality that securing identities remains a formidable challenge. Grip offers a solution for organizations to navigate the complex landscape of SaaS-Identity, enabling them to comprehend, analyze, and fortify their defenses against SaaS-Identity risks.

Begin your journey with a free SaaS-Identity Risk Assessment. Grip is your new partner in SaaS-Identity Risk Management.

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