SaaS Means Security

SaaS Means Security

Software as a Service (SaaS) solutions are touted for their affordability, their propensity to modernize and their adaptability to scale services quickly throughout an enterprise. Yet a virtue that’s often overlooked is the power of SaaS to safeguard critical systems and data.

In government this is especially true. City and state IT systems often fall into the crosshairs of hackers, and with tight budgets and limited staff, cybersecurity efforts can be daunting for agencies. This is one reason why many state chief information officers are migrating their services into SaaS services, like Accela’s Civic Platform. The National Association of State Chief Information Officers (NASCIO) reported in its 2017 State CIO Survey that more than 80 percent of CIOs said they had migrated, or were in the process of migrating, legacy applications to the cloud. A full 63 percent of these respondents observed significant gains in cybersecurity.

Further, in its 2018 survey, NASCIO reported SaaS migration is growing as CIOs see their states becoming brokers of IT services instead of direct providers. Results showed that 64 percent of CIOs planned to become a broker of SaaS services, 20 percent anticipated moving to a service broker model, and 16 percent were already acting as an IT broker.

“As a broker, the CIO is enabling engagement with customers, technology markets and government stakeholders to improve service delivery for citizens,” NASCIO reports. 

Dedicated Security Resources

Turning to SaaS can translate into tighter security and additional tools for defense. Government agencies don’t always have the capacity to deploy top-level security measures for every service they provide. This limitation opens governments up to greater risk and potentially devastating cyber attacks. The right SaaS provider can eliminate the need to hire costly extra IT expertise and buy additional software and hardware that must be maintained. 

At Accela, there are a host of security measures in place to protect customers such as encryption, user authentication, backup and recovery programs, and real-time network performance monitoring. This is combined with in-depth audits for Accela’s network, apps and databases. Governments and the communities they serve require a robust security framework, and as a SaaS provider, Accela prides itself on delivering this level of data and cloud security. 

Another benefit to agencies when they migrate data to the cloud is a regular stream of security updates. Governments can be hard pressed to predict every vulnerability, and SaaS solutions have the built-in advantage of constant and systematic support. The ongoing effort allows Accela and its customers to implement new controls that protect the accessibility, privacy and integrity of our customer’s information.

Top-Tier Security Standards

A possible misconception about SaaS solutions is that they fall short when compared to an agency’s own security standards. Yet this is highly dependent on the vendor. In fact, many vendors not only meet local government standards, but also surpass them.

Accela complies with the National Institute of Standards and Technology’s Federal Information Security Management Act (FISMA), a set of guidelines that represent one of the highest benchmarks in cybersecurity; and companies like Microsoft, an Accela partner, ensure their cloud services meet the FBI’s Criminal Justice Information Services (CJIS) standards, another high benchmark in cybersecurity.

These standards require security controls like identity management, multi-factor authentication, incident response and change control. For CJIS compliance, there are also the added requirements that grant the FBI to have physical access to Microsoft’s cloud facilities for IT audits, to get detailed quarterly security updates and for agents to conduct background checks on Microsoft personnel.

Considering these and other protections, SaaS solutions now present city and state agencies an unprecedented degree of security, something that for many, was too costly or too difficult to implement in the past – let alone keep up with the rapidly evolving cybersecurity landscape. SaaS represents a new opportunity for advanced tools at low costs, and at Accela, we bolster these benefits with industry leading protection for our customers.

About The Author / Srini Kakkera