What is a CASB? Everything You Need to Know About a Cloud Access Security Broker

Pallavi Varanasi Cloud Security Expert - CloudCodes Software
  • February 18th, 2020

CASB is a word that keeps popping up every time there is a discussion about cloud security. But what exactly is a CASB? How does it work? And what benefit can a business get from using a cloud access security broker? By the end of this article, you will be able to answer all of those questions, and some more.

What is a CASB?

A Cloud access security broker is a software that sits between cloud service providers and the consumers to enforce security, compliance, and governance policies for cloud-based applications. It can either be an on-premises or a cloud-hosted software.

A CASB offers companies with a basic control point for the safe utilization of cloud benefits over different cloud suppliers. Software as a service (SaaS) application is getting unavoidable in undertakings, which worsens the disappointment of security groups searching for permeability and control of those applications.

CASB services fill a considerable lot of the security holes in singular cloud benefits and permit data security experts to do it across cloud administrations, including Infrastructure as a service (IaaS) and Platform as a service (PaaS). Thus, CASBs address a basic venture prerequisite to set strategy, screen conduct, and oversee hazard over the whole arrangement of big business cloud administrations being devoured.

A CASB provider additionally offers complete cloud visibility into approved and non-approved cloud utilization. It can capture and scrutinize information traffic between the corporate system and cloud stage, help with consistent issues, offer information security arrangement authorization, and forestall unapproved gadgets, clients, and applications from getting to cloud administrations.

 

Types of CASBs

CASBs can be categorized as agent-based or agent-less.

Agent-based CASB

It is challenging to deploy on devices that are controlled by the organization. Agent-based CASBs are helpful in monitoring both organizational and personal data.

Agent-less CASB

On the contrary, an agent-less CASB is easily deployed and protects the data stored in every device by respecting the privacy of the user.

 

The Four Pillars of a CASB

The leading analyst firm Gartner has categorized various functionalities of CASB into 4 pillars i.e. Visibility, Compliance, Data Security and Threat Protection.

Visibility

From an IT perspective, one of the most important aspects of cloud service usage is who is using the cloud service and what way it’s being used. Most of the cloud services providers are lacking capabilities in the area of audit or logging. They provide very limited support. CASBs overcome this limitation by bringing data points about Shadow IT. It is able to determine unusual access of un-sanctioned applications within the organization and raise appropriate alerts. It is also possible to determine abnormal behavior of access to sanctioned apps.

Compliance

A CASB overcomes the issue with data residency by encryption of data at rest. This provides protection to data stored on the cloud against a data breach. It also provides control to ensure data stored outside the organization meets all compliance as per the regulatory requirements. CASBs provides out of box visibility for various compliance such as PHI, PCI, PII, HIPAA etc-etc. It also ensures organization Data Loss Prevention (DLP) is monitored on shared data items.

Data Security

A CASB provides out of box capabilities to monitor access to data stored on the cloud. It can provide access control on various parameters such as location, IP address, browser, operating system, and device.


Threat Protection

A CASB provides various alerts to inform the IT about threats that are detected within the organization users based on the user’s behavior.

 

Components of a CASB

API

A well-structured API is used by CASB providers to monitor activity, analyze content, and rectify if required.

Gateway

A CASB gateway is integrated between the users and the cloud applications to provide real-time insights and policies of the network

Log Data

CASB provider imports log data from the firewall to protect and analyze the flow of information.

Agents

Agents help in managing the cloud activities of users on BYOD.

 

Why is a Cloud Access Security Broker used?

One significant use case is to find, screen, and secure shadow IT. Shadow IT is the unapproved utilization of cloud benefits by line-of-business staff. Since IT groups don’t know about shadow IT, it isn’t dependent upon corporate security, consistency, and administration approaches. This opens ventures to critical security dangers.

As indicated by an ongoing review of in excess of 2,000 IT experts by Intel Security, right around 40 percent of cloud administrations are presently appointed without its inclusion. Accordingly, 65 percent of IT experts think shadow IT is meddling with their capacity to keep cloud utilization protected and secure. The greater part of respondents said they have followed malware from a cloud application.

In spite of cloud security stresses, 62 percent of respondents store delicate client data in the open cloud. Likewise, the quantity of organizations utilizing private cloud just has dropped from 51 percent to 24 percent over the previous year, while crossbreed cloud use has expanded from 19 percent to 57 percent.

CASB in Education

The education sector is seeing a massive change. Learning is no longer restricted to classrooms. Thanks to G Suite, Office 365, and other cloud-based apps, both faculty and students get a sense of ease and accessibility, which in turn improves learning. These cloud apps also help in achieving smoother operations, strengthening student-student, and student-staff coordination on the school campus.

But this shift comes with its own set of challenges. School data is now more vulnerable than ever. There is a need to constantly monitor the activities that can put both school and student data to risk. A CASB helps in the identification of data leaks and thefts and thus helps the institute to rectify them before there’s any damage.

CASBs can also preemptively reduce risks by restricting access to suspicious websites or any URLs that are not approved by the school board. This way, CASBs not only minimize threats but also help in improving productivity and reducing distraction by restricting access to unsafe and unproductive websites.

CASB in Finance

Data is what drives the finance industry. Using G Suite or similar cloud-based apps enables employees of the firm to effortlessly access the data from anywhere, at any time, and from any location. Migrating to the cloud helps in enhancing the efficiency between internal and external departments.

But using the cloud to access and share data adds risk. For any finance company, a data leak or theft can massively affect operations. Stockbroking and wealth management firms are particularly prone to this. This is where a CASB comes into play.

Keeping a constant check for any discrepancy or identifying and stopping a leak from happening is not optional for a finance company. They add a layer of security on top of the cloud apps without any significant change in their management. A Cloud Access Security Broker makes these businesses alert, protected, and ready to take necessary action without delay.

 

How does a CASB work?

CASBs may run on-premises or in the cloud. Sensibly, CASBs sit between the end client and the cloud, however, truly a CASB must be situated in one of two spots: in a corporate server farm or in the cloud itself. That implies you have a decision between utilizing a cloud get to security dealer as help or facilitating one on a physical or virtual machine. The SaaS alternative is simpler to oversee and is the more famous choice, as per Gartner, however in specific ventures you may need to utilize an on-premises framework for consistent reasons.

Reverse proxy: It can manage the user’s device without any configuration or certificate, however, it cannot handle unauthorized cloud apps.

Forward proxy: It helps in guiding all the managed traffic to unauthorized cloud apps but cannot monitor the apps on user-owned devices.

API mode: It allows enterprises to perform various activities such as log telemetry, policy visibility and control, and data security inspection.

Key functions of CASB

Data loss prevention

This is one of the topmost priorities in CASB solutions. We all know that data stored in the cloud is prone to threats and malicious activities. The easy access to the cloud makes it even more challenging in securing the information stored there. CASB solution can help the admin in identifying the threats and build stringent policies to control the various threats that the information is likely to possess.

Threat protection

Any information related to finance, personal, or education is extremely crucial to the user or the organization. Data leaks and threats are bound to happen and the consequences are never in the favor of a user or an organization. CASB helps in protecting the data stored in the cloud through various security policies and technologies. It monitors the different files while sharing and also keeps a check on the user activities within the cloud.

Why should businesses use a CASB?

CASB is currently a necessary bit of any organization’s cybersecurity framework. Organizations utilizing cloud applications for efficiency, coordinated effort, and capacity inevitably undergo a certain set of challenges for working in the cloud. Using CASB resolves vast numbers of these difficulties by giving unequaled security, visibility, and command over access to conduct cloud applications.

Over a while, CASB has been able to successfully resolve security issues that enterprises are encountering while storing their data on cloud computing. This article will discuss in detail the significant challenges which CASB has addressed.

What are the advantages of using a CASB?

Scrutinizing unauthorized access:

Security is a primary requirement for any organization. As most of the employees in a company prefer using their devices from different locations, then there is a high rate of security risk involved. The biggest problem that organizations were facing was to allow free access to their employees as a firewall alone was not enough to protect the data from threats. A CASB solution can resolve this issue by scrutinizing and securing the data from unauthorized access and data threats.

Account hackers:

There can be a situation when an unauthorized user can access your account and view your data due to weak password and authentication issues. This generally happens when there are no right security measures installed to keep a check on each application of the cloud. A detailed CASB architecture will help in identifying threats and monitoring their login activity. In the case of threats, CASB takes necessary measures against suspicious accounts and users.

Access control:

Trust is the most significant factor for cloud computing, and in the business of cloud security, it is advisable to follow the Zero Trust approach. The term Zero Trust approach is self-explanatory- internal or external, trust no one. As the risk against threats and data violations are high, it is profoundly challenging to monitor the cloud security without the right CASB architecture. Any organization needs to know who is accessing their classified information. A CASB service resolves this issue by providing full visibility and control over every user’s behavior in real-time while taking immediate action in case of any threat.

Regular reporting:

Apart from acting as a security gatekeeper, cloud applications provide several advantages to an organization. A CASB solution will allow organizations to monitor the cyber behavior of the user and report in case of any suspicious activity of a user. CASB services work effectively even in a smaller team where auditing and reporting generally take more. It also helps organizations to improve their security structure in place.

Device monitoring:

CASBs can monitor the devices which different users access using a tablet, mobile app, or a desktop. It can also monitor and control the access of unauthorized users using such devices and immediately report and take actions against them. CASBs can audit and control all the cloud applications security in real-time and detect threats involved with data.

Cost-effective:

CASB can help in reducing the operational cost of any business. It allows organizations to keep track of every user’s activity and monitor the potential risk which can be incurred through users with malicious intent. CASB provider can assist the customer in achieving a completely risk-free cloud environment at an effective budget.

Organizational Benefits of CASB Implementation

  1. If the enterprise is in possession of bulk confidential data like law firms and finance corporations, then availing a feature that allows granular control of data is highly significant to them. CASB solutions provide the best practices like absolute control over data sharing and downloading by users over the cloud, restricting access to limited groups or individuals, and guarding against data duplication.
  2. CASB solutions also offer setting up permissions of documents and ensure keeping them protected at all times.
  3. Monitoring the traffic from on-premises to cloud services can help the enterprises to keep a check on the policy violations, using Shadow IT features.
  4. Enterprise mobility is aided by the CASB solutions. They provide data security when downloading sensitive data from the cloud storage to personal devices like mobiles etc.

How does a Cloud Access Security Broker Protect Data on the Cloud?

A CASB provides multiple types of security policy enforcement. These include:

  • Authenticated access
  • Single sign-on
  • Data loss prevention or DLP
  • IP restriction
  • Device restriction and device profiling
  • Geographical restriction
  • Time zone restriction
  • Early Malware detection and prevention

The Visibility Provided by a CASB

CASB gives enterprise visibility into cloud usage.

  • Intercepts and inspects for traffic between the enterprises and cloud platform
  • Assists with compliance issues
  • Data security policy enforcement using single sign-on and multifaceted encryption while data transfers
  • Prevents unauthorized users from accessing the cloud services

Thus, a CASB helps in protecting confidential data from unauthorized cloud access by using activity monitoring through data security policies. CASB efficiently controls the cloud security concerns of the enterprises to a large extent.

Popular platforms for CASBs

G-Suite

The flexible working style extended by Google Apps for Work has no doubt given rise to more productive, collaborative and enhanced results in organizations and it’s definitely the most awesome enterprise cloud platform one can think of! But it is an organization’s responsibility to secure all the endpoints of the data – stored, in use or in transit, within and outside the organization with regulated policies and compliance. CASB vendor that aims at ensuring your G Suite data is safe & secure by building a secure ecosystem around your cloud activity. Industries like Manufacturing, Pharmaceuticals, Finance, Aviation, Logistics, Education, Retail and many others rely on CASBs for Business to ensure their G Suite Security is at par.

Office 365

CASBs provide cloud app security for Office 365 helping business to protect their highly confidential data in real-time. Granular control is offered through automated workflow visibility including options like admin alerts, unauthorized tasks restrain, access permissions modifications, notifying users with a customized coaching message, etc. You get amplified data security for Office 365 with a CASB. They enhance account security by understanding and controlling the cloud risk activities over the Office 365 services suite, along with confidential data protection, and blocking different types of cloud threats.

AWS

As the adoption of AWS increases within an organization, it is becoming a hurricane task to monitor various aspects of infrastructure hosted on AWS from a security perspective. Recent breaches have in fact increased the threats and challenges for security professionals within an organization. Centre for Internet Security(CIS) has come with the best security practices for various cloud platforms including AWS.

A Cloud Access Security Broker provides continuous security assessment of AWS Workload based on CIS benchmarks. It’s a simple and easy way to monitor various aspects of the AWS workload and getting notified.

What are some popular CASB vendors?

CloudCodes Software

CloudCodes provides CASB solution to detect data threats, protect the data against cyber-attacks through malware prevention, encryption, and policies. CloudCodes is the leading cloud security provider that works as a security-bridge between the cloud service providers and the user. CloudCodes have been providing the CASB solution to more than 300+ organization across the world. This includes customers from manufacturing, broking, bank, retail, logistics, health and education domain.

Bitglass

Bitglass founded in 2013, is renowned for its cloud security solutions, agentless, data and threat protection for any app, any device, anywhere. The company is known for its integrations, innovations, and execution.

CipherCloud

Since 2012, CipherCloud has majorly focused on providing end-to-end protection for the data stored in the cloud. The USP of this company is the encryption partner feature which offers overall protection to the data.

Forcepoint

Forcepoint provides deep visibility into the user’s activities, enables high security, and prevents data loss. It has a structured API that restricts unauthorized users from accessing the information.

Netskope

Netskope offers API based CASB and data loss protection to tackle the threat from unauthorized users. It patented Cloud XD technology that can control malicious activities.

Symantec

Symantec launched the CASB feature in 2016. Through its CloudSOC, Symantec aims at monitoring all the data stored in the cloud and protects it from violations.

Why Choose CloudCodes?

CloudCodes is the leading cloud security provider that works as a security-bridge between the cloud service providers and the SMBs using cloud-based technology, by creating value for its own software designs enabling the SMBs to ensure data safety, confidentiality of data, restriction of any data breach, prevention of data theft/leak, whereby, having absolute control over their cloud-based processes in concordance with the regulatory laws and compliance protocols like HIPPA, etc., laid by the world authorities.

CloudCodes have been providing the CASB solution to more than 300+ organization across the world. This includes customers from manufacturing, broking, bank, retail, logistics, health and education domain.

Conclusion

In today’s ever-evolving cyber world, organizations are more likely prone to cyber threats and data loss. Therefore, organizations must evaluate and implement the quick CASB software solution, which will not only identify risks but can duly take actions against malicious activities of particular users. CASB services are widely used for data protection security policies and also controls cloud applications from various external and internal attacks.

CASBs work by ensuring that system traffic inside on-premises gadgets and the cloud supplier conforms to the association’s security approaches. The estimation of CASB originates from their capacity to give knowledge into cloud application utilizes across cloud stages and distinguish unsanctioned use. This is particularly significant in managed ventures. CASBs use auto-revelation to distinguish cloud applications being used and recognize high-chance applications, high-chance clients, and other key hazard factors. CASBs may actualize various diverse security get to controls, including encryption and gadget profiling. They may likewise offer different types of assistance, for example, accreditation mapping when single sign-on isn’t accessible.

CASBs are especially helpful in associations with shadow IT activities or liberal security approaches that permit working units to get and deal with their own cloud assets. The information that CASBs gather can be utilized for reasons other than security, for example, checking cloud administration utilization for planning purposes.

Looking for a CASB to match your organization’s requirements? Get in touch with a CloudCodes Security Expert today.

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