By Pete Schmitt, Chief Technology Officer
There’s no doubt that cloud adoption is at an all-time high and will only continue to climb. For most businesses, this translates to a monumental task of securing these cloud services. You may think, “My cloud provider does all that, so why should I be concerned?”
The average size business uses more than 250 cloud-based apps, while enterprise usage is closer to 350+ apps, according to a study by Productiv. Although this figure may not surprise you, the challenge arises when you consider that these applications may be unsanctioned and have not been adequately vetted by corporate security teams. According to CSO and Gartner, “41% of employees acquired, modified, or created technology outside of IT’s visibility… and [they] expect that number to climb to 75% by 2027.” The same article cites a Capterra study that found “57% of small and midsize businesses have had high-impact shadow IT efforts occurring outside the purview of their IT departments.”
The truth is that most cloud providers today only accept the responsibility for their platform security, but that is all. Their users remain at risk from internal and external threats, so protecting sensitive information against data loss and theft is critical. This means that organizations must utilize and enforce the same robust security policies for cloud applications as they have for on-premises applications, which is where a Cloud Access Security Broker (CASB) comes into play.
A CASB can identify what organizations have in the cloud and rank their risk. The CASB knows who is transacting, what group they are in, what physical location they are in, what action they are performing, what data is being accessed, and if that data is sensitive. These are all critical to protect your business from data breaches, ransomware, and data loss.
Complex Use Cases for a CASB
We covered the general benefits of a CASB in a separate blog, but here are some more complex use cases for deploying a next-generation CASB that will keep your mission-critical apps and confidential data secure.
Hybrid and Multi-Cloud Environments
Deploying CASBs in complex cloud setups, especially hybrid or multi-cloud environments, presents unique challenges and requires careful consideration, including:
- Data Silos: Data scattered across various cloud platforms can hinder visibility and control.
- Inconsistent Security Policies: Managing and enforcing consistent security policies across different cloud environments can be complex.
- Integration Complexity: Integrating CASBs with on-premise security solutions and different cloud providers’ security tools can be challenging.
Overcoming these hurdles requires a strategic approach. A next-generation CASB solution provides centralized management across all cloud platforms, consolidating visibility and control. Solutions with robust API integration capabilities can help you seamlessly connect with your existing security tools and facilitate data exchange. You should also look for a provider experienced in defining and implementing consistent security protocols across diverse cloud platforms to help you eliminate risks and simplify governance.
Shadow IT and Unsanctioned Apps
As mentioned previously, most organizations are likely to have unauthorized cloud services running. These present a significant security risk to the business, not only jeopardizing the company’s reputation but also violating compliance requirements and having the potential to cost hundreds of thousands of dollars in loss from data breaches. Here are ways a next-generation CASB can help:
- Identification and Control: CASBs can monitor network traffic and user activity to identify unauthorized cloud app usage. The next-generation CASB automates the discovery of new SaaS apps through crowdsourcing and machine learning, ensuring you can see and secure all apps used within your enterprise.
- Preventing Data Leakage: A next-generation CASB provider can review the company’s existing Data Loss Prevention (DLP) policies against best practices and ensure they are applied across the organization – whether at headquarters, branch, or remote users – to prevent sensitive data from being uploaded or shared through unauthorized apps. The next-generation CASB incorporates secure access service edge (SASE) and enterprise DLP into a unified cloud console.
- Employee Education: Ask your CASB provider to implement awareness campaigns and training programs to educate your employees about the dangers of unauthorized applications and encourage responsible cloud app usage.
API Integration and Data Governance
Next-generation CASBs integrate cloud and enterprise security seamlessly, utilizing machine learning and crowdsourced threat intelligence. It employs both in-line and API-based controls for governance, access, and data protection, offering superior visibility and real-time threat protection against emerging risks while safeguarding SaaS applications through API-based detection of potential misconfigurations. If you have a complex environment that requires advanced data protection and governance capabilities, here are a few items to look for in a next-generation CASB provider.
DLP Beyond Traditional Methods:
Look for a CASB that can leverage API integrations and create DLP policies to analyze data based on content, context, and user intent, not just file formats or keywords. Deep content inspection identifies sensitive data types like financial information, health records, or confidential business documents. Analyzing the context helps you understand the data’s purpose, location, and surrounding information to determine sensitivity and potential risks. User intent provides user activity and behavior that aids you in differentiating accidental data exposures from malicious intent.
Advanced Data Encryption:
Businesses with highly sensitive data or strict governance requirements need a CASB with tools and skills beyond basic file encryption. Modern enterprises rely on daily collaboration apps such as Microsoft Teams, Zoom, and Slack, to name a few. The communications in these apps often vary from traditional files, instead containing short, unstructured messages, images, and screen captures. Next-generation CASBs offer automated data discovery across all applications and locations, ensuring your sensitive data is identified and securely encrypted, whether stored in the cloud or moving between devices and applications.
Continuous Data Monitoring:
Look for a CASB that provides continuous data monitoring and incident response capabilities. With automated threat detection and prevention, your CASB will identify unauthorized data access attempts in real time, flag them as suspicious, and automatically block the download, preventing data loss and mitigating potential security risks. The tool will also provide an audit trail to help your internal teams understand and advance your security policies. With continuous threat monitoring, a next-generation CASB safeguards your online users and apps by consistently applying advanced security measures like enterprise DLP and machine learning, ensuring protection across all user locations and devices while maintaining a smooth user experience and compliance with regulations.
As businesses increasingly rely on cloud services, the security challenges associated with cloud adoption become more significant. A next-generation CASB provider is essential in complex environments like hybrid or multi-cloud setups or highly regulated industries for preventing data breaches, ensuring compliance, and managing the risks associated with unauthorized cloud services. With features like API integration, advanced encryption, data governance, and continuous data monitoring, next-generation CASBs provide a comprehensive solution to safeguard sensitive information and maintain a secure and compliant cloud environment.
Looking to strengthen your cloud security?
FAQs About Cloud Access Security Brokers (CASBs)
Q: What is a Cloud Access Security Broker (CASB)?
A: Cloud Access Security Brokers (CASB) serve as a pivotal security enforcement point between cloud service consumers and providers on-premise or in the cloud. CASBs assume the role of integrating and enforcing enterprise security policies as users access cloud-based resources. Security policies can include identity access management (IAM), malware detection, alerts, and more.
Q: How does a Cloud Access Security Broker (CASB) work?
A: A Cloud Access Security Broker (CASB) adds value to an organization’s security initiatives by providing:
- Advanced enterprise Data Loss Prevention (DLP)
- Granular policies for all apps
- Architecture for any use case
- Access and privilege control
- Active threat protection
- Visibility and control over cloud spend
- Compliance assurance in the cloud
- Cloud app risk mitigation
- And more
“As the lead for MicroAge technology and engineering, Pete researches new and emerging technology to ensure that his team is at the forefront of technology trends and best practices so that they can deliver the best possible technological solutions for clients. He brings an extensive background in information technology, customer service, and professional services and is known for delivering second-to-none client experiences—a philosophy that is directly attributable to our long-standing success and reputation.”Pete SchmittChief Technology Officer