Penetration TestJan Kahmen8 min read

Penetration Testing for modern SaaS Solutions

With SaaS software, users view their sensitive data directly in the browser, which makes regular penetration testing necessary.

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What is SaaS - How is it Different from IaaS and PaaS?

Have you ever asked yourself: what is SaaS? The answer to this is quite simple - a SaaS software is a cloud-based application. It provides you with the suitable solution in different areas. Here, SaaS is the abbreviation for "Software-as-a-Service".
If you opt for such a cloud-based variant, you no longer have to install your software application on your computer. Instead, you access it directly through your browser. This makes it a simple and flexible alternative. It is not uncommon for the application to be offered both browser-based and for flexible app use. So you benefit from it in the private as well as in the business sector.browser-based
Although SaaS, IaaS (Infrastructure-as-a-Service) and PaaS (Platform-as-a-Service) all belong to cloud computing, they are suitable for different areas of use.

  • IaaS helps you build your infrastructure using cloud-based technology.
  • PaaS helps your developers build custom applications and deploy them via the cloud.
  • SaaS is cloud-based software that you can buy and use for everyday use. That is why it is also known as SaaS solution.

Advantages of a SaaS

When you choose a SaaS solution, you benefit from its advantages. These are what clearly differentiate such an application from the classic software application

  • You get along entirely without installation, updating and updates. This means your users always have access to the latest version, without the need for your IT department to take action.
  • By outsourcing user data to the cloud, you take an important step towards mobility. After all, the application can be used not only on the company PC, but equally on the tablet or smartphone.
  • Thanks to the ever-improving broadband expansion, you benefit from a high connection speed. This speed allows data transfer almost in real time.
  • SaaS applications are a cost-effective solution because you rent the service in a subscription model. In addition to the low monthly costs, you get along without any initial investment at all.

SaaS application areas

The SaaS solution area offers you countless possibilities, which you can use both privately and in your daily business life. For your business, for example, you use modern CRM systems, applications for project management and financial accounting. Privately, you can use everything from cloud-based office programs to listening to music.

This is why a Penetration Test for SaaS Solutions is Important

Once you deploy SaaS software, users view your sensitive data directly in the browser. This can lead to critical vulnerabilities, which makes regular testing necessary. A pentest is therefore an important part of your IT security concept for the SaaS solution.
A penetration test uncovers possible security vulnerabilities in the system and helps you to use your company data securely. By the way, penetration testing is also useful for open source cloud solutions, not just commercial variants.
If you run your own cloud in the company, then it is considered private and you can test it at will.
This is the big advantage that an internal solution offers you. However, in this case you are responsible for security yourself. This requires external help, for example from an expert who specializes in pentesting the SaaS solution. Pen testing using artificial intelligence is also helpful for this.

The Differences of SaaS, IaaS and PaaS in Penetration Testing

If you want to test your SaaS solution via penetration testing, you need to be careful. The reason is that you do not own the system and the underlying server infrastructure. You only own the software that is included as part of your booking.
A classic example of such a solution is Office 365 from Microsoft. If you run a penetration test against such a server, you will not only affect yourself, but also other subscribers. The advantage of such a solution is that your provider ensures security.
The situation is different if you book an IaaS service. In this case, you can easily test individual objects within your subscription. Nevertheless, it is important that you contact your cloud provider.
With PaaS solutions, many tests are allowed, but not all. You should therefore ask your provider which ones are within your capabilities. The reason for this is, for example, the patch management of the provider server. In addition, the security policies of the base servers are decisive for which measures you are allowed to perform and to what degree of severity.
Are you deploying a complete PaaS environment in your company? In this case, securing is especially important. A regular penetration test will help you continuously detect vulnerabilities - it is also important to secure the servers.
In terms of the security of your applications, you therefore have a greater influence with IaaS and PaaS than with a SaaS solution. Nevertheless: contact your provider in any case, so that you do not unintentionally violate its guidelines or the applicable T&Cs.

Many Providers offer Penetration Testing for their SaaS

Cloud services, especially the SaaS solution, are now an established technology. This means they are firmly anchored in everyday professional and private life. Their huge popularity makes regular vulnerability scanning essential. After all, IT managers need to ensure that systems are consistently up to date with the latest technology.
If you want to use a SaaS solution in your company, it is worthwhile to carry out a regular penetration test. This involves an independent expert checking the system for vulnerabilities and security gaps. Whether your cloud environment is SaaS, IaaS or PaaS is irrelevant in terms of security requirements.
The penetration test is based on the concept of shared responsibility. What this means for you is that you are just as secured as the expert. To ensure this, the scope of the test, the liability statement and the legal framework are defined at the beginning and contractually recorded. This procedure serves to avoid legal conflicts and unwanted incidents.
As soon as you book a SaaS solution, you should know what security tests have been performed. This includes the penetration test. An expert will help you even if you can't test your provider's offering for security vulnerabilities.
Cloud providers almost always employ internal teams to regularly pentest their services.
If you want to carry out your own tests, it is essential to contact your cloud provider. You may only perform such a test if you have permission to do so. Large providers such as Amazon almost always offer you the option of performing the desired penetration test.
But why is this actually so important? Because a penetration test can easily be seen as an attack on the SaaS solution. As a result, it could trigger unwanted countermeasures from your provider.


Penetration testing is as important for your cloud solution as it is for your on-premises applications. However, it is necessary that you distinguish between a public and a private cloud. This is because you need to proceed differently with penetration testing depending on the mode of operation. One such difference, for example, is that you need to agree with external providers what type of vulnerability scan you will perform and when.


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