An Introduction To Cloud Access Security Broker (CASB)
This certainly works well for people who want some space to rejuvenate and relax. In a similar fashion, organizations seek a tool that could handle the kinds of people allowed to enter their exclusive clubs or premises, not just physically but also digitally.
A Cloud Access Security Broker (CASB) is a tool through which any movement on the cloud is routed. It protects an enterprise from falling prey to data leakage or data loss and acts as a security guard to determine who can gain access or not. Additionally, it's used to safeguard hardware as well.
So, how does it work, what are its benefits, how did it come about and why do you need it? Read on to find out
Tomorrowland, one of George Clooney’s lesser-celebrated movies, speaks of an alternate world called Tomorrowland that is far more advanced, well-maintained, futuristic and for all intents and purposes, utopian. Only a few selected people from our world, who are considered worthy, gain access to this paradise of peace. How do they get there? By invitation and approval only. The medium? A lapel pin. Only those in possession of these special lapel pins are allowed to enter. This was their way of ensuring that unwanted elements are kept out of their world.
In today’s (real) world, organizations face the same issue when it comes to cloud-based services that can be accessed from anywhere. The objective is to provide employees with access to the applications or services, wherever they may be. However, ensuring security is vital and that’s why enterprises use Cloud Access Security Brokers. These act as middlemen between cloud service providers and users, securing the usage of an enterprise’s data.
With most applications evolving to become cloud-centric, organizations must secure access to applications and data. There is a need for quicker service, especially with the increase in the use of personal devices towards workforce mobility, it becomes even more vital to protect and monitor cloud access and usage.
So, let’s get into the juicier details of Cloud Access Security Broker (CASB)!
What Is A Cloud Access Security Broker?
Cloud Access Security Brokers are what stands between cloud service providers and consumers trying to access data or use applications on the cloud. These tools can be deployed on-premises or be cloud-based or both. Cloud Access Security Brokers determine if users accessing the services are authorized to or not, by enforcing security policies based on an enterprise's needs. Additionally, they can handle multiple security functions, including authentication, encryption, malware detection, device profiling and more.
Organizations that make use of cloud-based applications or services require this tool. Even those businesses that plan to migrate to cloud environments should adopt Cloud Access Security Brokers before making the switch.
Clearly, it’s a tool that was developed to fulfill a much-needed requirement. So, let’s take a look at how it came about.
The Creation Of Cloud Access Security Brokers
Since the concept of the cloud is itself new, it’s no surprise that Cloud Access Security Brokers haven’t been around for a long time. In fact, it was a term coined and defined by Gartner in 2012. It was defined as “on-premises, or cloud-based security policy enforcement points, placed between cloud service consumers and cloud service providers to combine and interject enterprise security policies as the cloud-based resources are accessed.”
So, before cloud computing became popular, organizations that allowed employees to connect using their own devices had internal networking infrastructure and used traditional protective software, such as gateways and firewalls, as part of their security systems.
Once cloud services were introduced and began getting adopted by organizations, the need arose for specialized security policies and executors. This created Cloud Access Security Brokers.
Since a lot of top organizations moved to cloud services, malware and other cyber threats became a lot better at targeting and more complex. These threats needed a better guard and Cloud Access Security Brokers were developed to address them. An added benefit to this was enterprises gained visibility into their infrastructure and how other devices interacted with it.
So, the creation and evolution part is clear, right? Great! Let’s move into how they work.
How Do Cloud Access Security Brokers Work?
The objective of Cloud Access Security Brokers is to analyze, identify and assess applications and users of an enterprise’s cloud data. This process consists of 3 steps:
Cloud Access Security Brokers identify and compile a list of applications and services in use and their users.
The tool then assesses each application, its data and how it's being used and calculates the risk level included for each.
Once classified, Cloud Access Security Brokers offer personalized policy settings based on an enterprise’s security needs and automatically act against threats or violations.
Additionally, Cloud Access Security Brokers work as firewalls, offering data encryption and malware protection.
There are 3 different deployment methods, which are Forward Proxy (real-time Data Loss Prevention for applications); Reverse Proxy (for devices outside the network) and API Control (data and threat visibility, quicker deployment and overall handling).
Simple to understand the process? Yes? Now let’s get into the precious and primary offerings of these tools.
The 4 Pillars Of Cloud Access Security Brokers
There are a few cornerstones that Cloud Access Security Brokers rely on:
When organizations have many employees accessing their cloud environment, it can become a task to monitor its usage. Cloud Access Security Brokers allow organizations to gain visibility into applications being used on the cloud, the potential security threat they may pose and offers protection to users and enterprise data. Organizations get information such as location, device types, the job function of the user and other relevant information. This allows security personnel to take a call on whether to allow or block certain applications, services or connected users.
Organizations just love to gather and store as much data as they can get their hands on. Sometimes this sees them sharing data while outsourcing and each industry comes with its own set of data privacy and safety regulations that must be adhered to. Cloud Access Security Brokers help organizations maintain compliance requirements in their cloud infrastructure. Also, these tools offer insight into high-risk areas and steps for resolution.
The introduction of cloud services has facilitated easier and more seamless execution of remote working. However, this can turn out to be costly for enterprises when sensitive data is being accessed or transmitted. The comprehensive DLP (Data Loss Prevention) solutions offered by Cloud Access Security Brokers allow companies the knowledge when sensitive data is being transmitted, accessed or shared from, to or within cloud environments. Essentially, it protects the data itself as well as its movement.
Cloud Access Security Brokers can use machine learning techniques along with User and Entity Behavior Analytics (UEBA) technology to study user behavior patterns to flag anomalous user behavior. This enables them to detect and block unauthorized people from accessing or stealing data from the cloud. This could be hackers, fraudsters or even former employees. Adding to this, Cloud Access Security Brokers protect an enterprise’s cloud from modern threats such as malware, ransomware or other cloud-based data exfiltration.
Cloud Access Security Brokers address a key threat area in cloud environments. Let’s look at their importance in detail.
What Is The Need Of Cloud Access Security Brokers?
Cloud environments are very different from traditional networking systems and organizations need proper governance, risk management and security for it. They need to manage their data and the users and applications or services that use its cloud. This means enhanced sharing and collaborating protocols. In addition, with the rise of cyber threats and better-targeting abilities, organizations can be subject to data loss, leaks, malware, ransomware and other threats.
Cloud Access Security Brokers enable organizations to protect their data; its movement, storage and sharing. Its policies enable organizations to abide by compliance and regulations. Additionally, it protects an enterprise from falling prey to malicious intent. With the feature of User and Entity Behavior Analytics (UEBA), organizations get to notice irregularities in the usual behavior of users, flagging suspicious or compromised users. This is supplemented with SSO (Single sign-on) and IAM (Identity and Access Management) integration.
These tools are needed for any organization - you would agree once you read their benefits!
How Are Cloud Access Security Brokers Beneficial To Businesses?
One of the biggest problems with migrating to a cloud infrastructure? Cyber threats. Organizations may face threats from external as well as internal sources. Sometimes the threat may be hidden well or may be executed inadvertently, either way, can prove to be costly for an organization. This is where Cloud Access Security Brokers show their benefits.
Cyber Threat Prevention
Cloud Access Security Brokers offer enterprises protection from malware, ransomware and other threats as well as unauthorized or malicious users and dangerous applications and services that could affect the cloud or its applications and services.
Data Loss Prevention (DLP)
An organization’s data consists of numerous kinds of sensitive information such as client or customer data, financial details, private information and other confidential data. Cloud Access Security Brokers protect enterprise data from leakage, loss or unauthorized sharing. This is vital given stringent compliance and regulation policies.
Managing Shadow IT
Cloud Access Security Brokers provide organizations visibility into the applications and services in use as well as the users accessing the cloud preventing unsanctioned applications from being used or inflicting harm to the organization or its cloud.
Manage User Accounts
Cloud Access Security Brokers offer enterprises the ability to control how users and accounts interact with the cloud. The team in control can manage access and usage based on rights and privileges, gain details such as user/employee status, device information, location, activity and other metrics.
Manage External ForcesWith enterprises adopting BYOD (Bring Your Own Device) and remote work cultures, it becomes tough for organizations equipped with traditional and simple security tools to keep track of users. Additionally, open-source applications, services and websites can become entry points for hackers. Cloud Access Security Brokers enable tracking of users’ personal devices when connected to the cloud. This also allows organizations to restrict file sharing to personal devices or private accounts.
Cloud Access Security Brokers are highly recommended for enterprises that work and rely on cloud infrastructure. As time progresses, so do the threats that are blocked and the techniques by which they are delivered. So, how are Cloud Access Security Brokers going to evolve?
What Is In Store For Cloud Access Security Brokers In The Future?
The move to cloud infrastructure is still new for many enterprises, while some are yet to embrace it completely. Cloud Access Security Brokers will be a key driver as they will offer security from threats and data compromises in cloud environments. It is continually evolving as other risk areas are discovered. Soon Cloud Access Security Brokers will evolve into Secure Access Service Edge (SASE – pronounced ‘sassy’) architecture.
SASE will merge the functions of multiple cloud networking and security technologies, namely Cloud Access Security Brokers (CASB), Secure Web Gateways (SWG), Zero Trust Network Access (ZTNA) and Firewall as a Service (FWaaS) with Wide Area Network (WAN). SASE will offer comprehensive web and cloud security, will be managed centrally and will connect cloud users, cloud systems and cloud environments to services and applications. Cloud security is about get better!
So, What Have We Learned?
Like the lapel pin from Tomorrowland, Cloud Access Security Brokers give enterprises the ability to choose and control who gets access to their cloud infrastructure and how much. Additionally, it offers organizations security from unauthorized users and cyber threats as well as gives them visibility into all the applications, services and users on their cloud. It’s the ultimate tool for cloud security!
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Where CASB and SWG Are Headed - Netskope
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