Cloud Access Security Broker (CASB) For Cloud Security

Cloud computing has allowed companies and their employees to easily store, access, share, and work with others across the globe and within different geographical areas. In today’s digital world, almost 96% of organizations leverage cloud solutions to support their day to day business operations. However, conducting business in the cloud requires a different cybersecurity approach for ensuring data security than traditional network security methods. Cloud Access Security Broker (CASB) offers a solution to ensure security of applications and data in cloud environments.

Cloud Access Security Broker (CASB) is a cloud security solution that helps organizations control access, reinforce policies, and protect data in the cloud.

What Is CASB?

CASB is on-prem or cloud-based security software that sits between businesses and cloud service providers. It enforces compliance, security, and governance policies for cloud services. CASB involves several security policies, such as single sign-on, authentication, authorization, device profiling credential mapping, and encryption. Moreover, you can apply other strategies, including alerting, logging, tokenization, malware detection, and prevention to further expand on cybersecurity capabilities.

The term CASB was coined by Peter Firstbrook and Neil MacDonald of Gartner company in 2011. However, the company published the industry’s first quadrant in the year 2017.

CASB Purpose

Cloud access security broker is an essential aspect of cloud security. It is crucial for companies that want to have secure cloud usage in their enterprises. Since its inception, CASB services have evolved to work with other IT security services and support IT operations such as monitoring the cloud service usage for budgeting purposes.
If you are using cloud services, it is critical that you consider incorporating CASB as part of your cybersecurity strategy. With proper CASB deployment, you can easily add other security controls to protect your data as it moves between devices and cloud service providers. Although CASB is not mandatory for all businesses, it is critical for maintaining security as cloud usage grows and acts as default solution for security compliance including privacy regulations such as the General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR).

CASB Services

CASB offers four primary security services, including visibility, compliance, data security, and threat protection. Before settling for a specific CASB solution, ensure that it meets your needs in these categories.

Visibility
It is essential to know who is using cloud services and for what purpose. With that said, most companies with cybersecurity teams and capabilities are lacking visibility in this area. With CASB services, an organization can monitor both authorized and unauthorized cloud access by employees and others. Initially, companies allowed their employees only to use their work computers to access cloud services. However, increasingly workers are allowed to connect their personal devices like smartphones to access the organization’s cloud services. CASB can effectively monitor cloud activities and raise alerts.

Compliance
Compliance with data privacy laws is very crucial because privacy is the most significant right of consumers. Therefore, even a minor violation can lead to a lawsuit. As a regulated company, you need auditing and reporting tools to show data security compliance. CASB solutions provide Data Loss Prevention (DLP) and other policy controls that enforce various compliance requirements including HIPAA, PCI, and many more.

Data security
With various data stored in the cloud, CASB identifies and categorizes some as sensitive, thereby applying appropriate Data Loss Prevention policies like tokenization, encryption, or data masking for added protection. Even when the information is downloaded, the encryption stays on to prevent data exfiltration. CASB provides access control for the browser, operating system, location, IP address, and device.

Threat Protection
Another crucial function of CASB is protecting cloud services from unsanctioned applications. It does this through behavior analytics in real-time and anomaly detection. With new threats, effective protection is introduced such as anti-phishing protection, predictive malware technologies, and account-takeover detection.

Benefits of CASB

Identifying unauthorized access
Security is a requirement for any organization. Although many employees and organizations prefer various devices from different locations to access cloud services, this capability involves high-security risks. With limited security solutions such as a firewall-only solution, data cannot be adequately protected from threats. Comprehensive CASB solutions resolve this by scrutinizing and protecting data from unauthorized devices and potential threats.

Access control
CASB monitors cloud security by offering full visibility for every user’s behavior in real-time. It further neutralizes the issue by taking necessary action in case of a threat.

Reporting
Aside from acting as a cloud security gatekeeper, CASB reports any suspicious activities. It is also practical in auditing and reporting organizations’ overall operations, hence improving their security structure. By monitoring traffic on cloud services, management can be on the lookout for policy violations.
If your company possesses confidential data and leverages cloud services for data sharing and storage, then the CASB solution is necessary in providing absolute control over data.

CASB Deployment Methods

The primary function of CASB is to provide control and visibility over data and potential threats within an enterprise’s cloud. There are three principal methods to deploy CASB:

  • Reverse proxy: This method is used on user devices without certificate installation or configuration changes. They don’t cover unauthorized cloud usage adequately.
  • Forward proxy: This manages all traffic from endpoints, including those from unsanctioned cloud services. However, they don’t manage user-owned gadgets.
  • API mode: It works well with consumer-owned devices and further allows organizations to perform functions such as policy visibility and control, logging, and data security inspection in a cloud service. Although it does not have any single point of failure, not all cloud services support API support.

CASB Implementation Considerations

When an enterprise wants to use CASB, there should be a governance workflow to help streamline the implementation of the new cloud services, improve IT in managing cloud services of the company, and minimize the risk of data loss.

Below are the steps of CASB implementation:

Getting Visibility to The Existing Cloud Usage
When CASB is introduced to the current cloud usage of a company, it analyzes web traffic logs while comparing the data to their cloud registry. This stage provides visibility in all company’s cloud services and the associated risks.
When looking for CASB solutions, enterprises should ensure that the CASB has a comprehensive cloud registry for maximum visibility. Also, the companies should ensure that CASB tokenizes sensitive data like IP addresses and user ID before uploading any web traffic logs for analysis.

Building A Cloud Risk Model
CASB provides detailed insight in every cloud service by maintaining and updating their complete signatures regularly. A robust cloud risk model consists of a comprehensive and accurate CASB, with attributes verified by an industry’s authority.

Applying The Risk Model to The Existing Shadow Cloud Service
This is the stage where a company now uses CASB to enforce acceptable use policies. IT can classify files in categories such as permitted/ approved/denied from the risk assessment provided in the first stage. From there, CASB introduces preventive measures to the existing firewall.

Developing A Cloud Service Onboarding Process
With the implemented cloud risk model, a company can use CASB in streamlining their onboard process for the new cloud services. This process dramatically reduces the work of the IT department since they rely on CASB to grant or deny access to cloud services.

What Are The CASB Policies and Standards?

Here are three central policies that most CASB solutions offer, depending on your needs and industry:

Access Control
CASB offers a range of variables to manage access control in a managed vs. unmanaged device. Access by an unmanaged device presents a higher risk than an authorized device. As a result, access to an unmanaged device must be more restricted. The restricted access of unsanctioned devices helps in cloud security by eliminating a potential threat that comes with it. CASB can block sensitive information from being accessed by unauthorized users in real-time.

Mobile Data Protection
The biggest problem facing organizations is what happens to sensitive data when it is synchronized or downloaded by thousands of employees’ devices, either authorized or unauthorized. CASB ensures that your mobile cloud data is safe by providing security functions like encryption, PIN codes, right management when downloading data, and selective wiping of corporate data.

External Sharing
If a company’s cloud apps contain a sharing component, CASB solution looks for sensitive data, scans it, and identifies any external shares. All publicly shared files that contain credit card data or other sensitive personal data can be quarantined until an evaluation is done to ensure the share is required and legitimate.

Final Remarks

CASB has rapidly evolved to become a necessity in cloud security management in any industry that leverages cloud services to store and share data. CASB solutions are increasingly deployed in numerous leading enterprises to provide visibility, data control, compliance, and threat protection.

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