Most teams start that journey by moving the applications that lived on their private networks into this Zero Trust model. Instead of a private network where any user on the network is assumed to be trusted, the applications that use Cloudflare Access now check every attempt against the rules you create. For your end users, this makes these applications just feel like regular SaaS apps, while your security teams have full control and logs.
However, we kept hearing from teams that wanted to use their Access control plane to apply consistent security controls to their SaaS apps, and consolidate logs from self-hosted and SaaS in one place.
We’re excited to give your team the tools to solve that challenge. With Access in front of your SaaS applications, you can build Zero Trust rules that determine who can reach your SaaS applications in the same place where your rules for self-hosted applications and network access live. To make that easier, we are launching guided integrations with the Amazon Web Services (AWS) management console, Zendesk, and Salesforce. In just a few minutes, your team can apply a Zero Trust layer over every resource you use and ensure your logs never miss a request.
How it works
Cloudflare Access secures applications that you host by becoming the authoritative DNS for the application itself. All DNS queries, and subsequent HTTP requests, hit Cloudflare’s network first. Once there, Cloudflare can apply the types of identity-aware and context-driven rules that make it possible to move to a Zero Trust model. Enforcing these rules in our network means your application doesn’t need to change. You can secure it on Cloudflare, integrate your single sign-on (SSO) provider and other systems like Crowdstrike and Tanium, and begin building rules.
SaaS applications pose a different type of challenge. You do not control where your SaaS applications are hosted — and that’s a big part of the value. You don’t need to worry about maintaining the hardware or software of the application.
However, that also means that your team cannot control how users reach those resources. In most cases, any user on the Internet can attempt to log in. Even if you incorporate SSO authentication or IP-based allowlisting, you might not have the ability to add location or device rules. You also have no way to centrally capture logs of user behavior on a per-request basis. Logging and permissions vary across SaaS applications — some are quite granular while others have non-existent controls and logging.
Cloudflare Access for SaaS solves that problem by injecting Zero Trust checks into the SSO flow for any application that supports SAML authentication. When users visit your SaaS application and attempt to log in, they are redirected through Cloudflare and then to your identity provider. They authenticate with your identity provider and are sent back to Cloudflare, where we layer on additional rules like device posture, multi factor method, and country of login. If the user meets all the requirements, Cloudflare converts the user’s authentication with your identity provider into a SAML assertion that we send to the SaaS application.
We built support for SaaS applications by using Workers to take the JWT and convert its content into SAML assertions that are sent to the SaaS application. The application thinks that Cloudflare Access is the identity provider, even though we’re just aggregating identity signals from your SSO provider and other sources into the JWT, and sending that summary to the app via SAML. All of this leverages Cloudflare’s global network and ensures users do not see a performance penalty.
Enforcing managed devices and Gateway for SaaS applications
COVID-19 made it commonplace for employees to work from anywhere and, more concerning, from any device. Many SaaS applications contain sensitive data that should only be accessed with a corporately managed device. A benefit of SaaS tools is that they’re readily available from any device, it’s up to security administrators to enforce which devices can be used to log in.
Once Access for SaaS has been configured as the SSO provider for SaaS applications, policies that verify a device can be configured. You can then lock a tool like Salesforce down to only users with a device that has a known serial number, hard auth key plugged in, an up to date operating system and much more.
Cloudflare Gateway keeps your users and data safe from threats on the Internet by filtering Internet-bound connections that leave laptops and offices. Gateway gives administrators the ability to block, allow, or log every connection and request to SaaS applications.
However, users are connecting from personal devices and home WiFi networks, potentially bypassing Internet security filtering available on corporate networks. If users have their password and MFA token, they can bypass security requirements and reach into SaaS applications from their own, unprotected devices at home.
To ensure traffic to your SaaS apps only connects over Gateway-protected devices, Cloudflare Access will add a new rule type that requires Gateway when users login to your SaaS applications. Once enabled, users will only be able to connect to your SaaS applications when they use Cloudflare Gateway. Gateway will log those connections and provide visibility into every action within SaaS apps and the Internet.
Getting started and what’s next
It’s easy to get started with setting up Access for SaaS application. Visit the Cloudflare for Teams Dashboard and follow one of our published guides.
We will make it easier to protect SaaS applications and will soon be supporting configuration via metadata files. We will also continue to publish SaaS app specific integration guides. Are there specific applications you’ve been trying to integrate? Let us know in the community!