The shift to cloud-based applications and services has made it difficult for IT teams to maintain visibility as data is shared between users and unmanaged cloud apps (shadow IT). CASBs offer several critical functions that can help organizations overcome these challenges.
A CASB works as a filter, firewall and proxy between users and cloud environments to monitor for threats and enforce security policies. They can also sort and classify applications based on risk level to support policy enforcement.
CASBs deliver visibility into all cloud activity, including sanctioned and unsanctioned applications. IT professionals should know how do CASBs improve cloud security before implementation. They enable security teams to identify and assess the risk of these untrusted apps by determining characteristics such as unusual access patterns, originating IP addresses, device posture, file sizes and more. They also help prevent the unauthorized export of sensitive data by leveraging DLP policies and monitoring for SaaS misconfigurations that expose corporate information to external parties.
Companies adopting various cloud applications often need more visibility and control capabilities than they are used to on-premises environments. CASBs fill this gap and give enterprises a complete picture of all their cloud activity across software-as-a-service, platform-as-a-service and infrastructure-as-a-service environments.
When evaluating CASB vendors, IT should assess each solution’s ability to deliver on specific use cases. To do so, businesses should establish their key business goals and evaluate the solutions to ensure they can meet those needs. This will help ensure that the CASB is an investment that delivers measurable value to the organization. It will also allow the business to select a vendor to provide its requirements confidently.
Data Loss Prevention
With the rise of remote work and bring-your-own-device (BYOD) programs, businesses need clear visibility into how data is accessed and handled in their cloud environments. Through granular policy controls, CASB solutions can protect sensitive information in the cloud from leakage, exploitation or theft of both data-at-rest and data-in-transit.
Unauthorized data transfer is one of the most common threats to the cloud, whether due to employee negligence or malicious attacks by third parties. CASBs detect and mitigate these issues using advanced technologies such as machine learning-based user and entity behavior analytics (UEBA) that review users’ normal usage patterns to pinpoint anomalous activity and provide data loss prevention tools for sanctioned and unsanctioned cloud applications.
Additionally, CASBs offer a range of other security capabilities like cloud malware prevention, account takeover protection and encryption for data in transit or at rest. These features help protect organizations from the cloud’s threats, such as ransomware and phishing attacks, even when users utilize productivity-enhancing but unsanctioned cloud apps.
As the world becomes more reliant on cloud services, the enterprise must safeguard its data from various threats. CASBs can enhance an organization’s existing data loss prevention (DLP) capabilities by extending them to protect data in use, in motion and at rest within the cloud. They also increase visibility into user activity, allowing IT to identify unauthorized access to infrastructure as a service, platform as a service and software as a service environment—also known as Shadow IT—and arm the security infrastructure with dynamic and static anti-malware and machine learning to detect ransomware, account takeovers, etc.
A CASB solution can also identify misconfigurations, which can lead to data breaches, and automatically remediate them. Lastly, they can remember and stop rogue applications from accessing organizational data by monitoring device and location information in real time. They can also assess risk to the business by analyzing data in the context of the application and how it’s being used, so policy enforcement is more tailored for the modern work era. This can include adjusting permissions at a detailed level to balance collaboration with security.
As business processes increasingly move to the cloud, CASBs protect data in motion and at rest. The original use case for CASBs was stemming threats from Shadow IT. Still, with the proliferation of bring-your-own-device policies and the threat landscape becoming more sophisticated, security needs to extend beyond just blocking access from unknown devices.
CASBs offer data protection features such as encryption, tokenization and permission management, enabling organizations to protect sensitive information in the cloud. They also allow administrators to customize access based on user attributes like location, job function and device type.
CASBs also provide visibility into the cloud environment, allowing administrators to identify unsanctioned software-as-a-service usage (SaaS) or unauthorized applications. This helps stop malware and ransomware by ensuring that only approved devices can access corporate data, including those on personal devices such as laptops or mobile phones. In addition, CASBs can also detect misconfigurations that could lead to a breach by monitoring for risky infrastructure configurations. Using machine learning and user and entity behavior analytics (UEBA), CASBs immediately see anomalous activity and alert administrators.
In a data environment where users access third-party applications outside the corporate network, CASBs enable enterprises to address their share of security responsibility by extending on-premises policies to the cloud. This is especially critical as IT teams discover unsanctioned software-as-a-service (SaaS) usage that can introduce risk in the form of misconfiguration.
To do this, CASBs employ a combination of visibility, inspection, logging, and policy control. This includes analyzing the data stored within SaaS apps, determining its risk level, and using that information to inform security controls and remediation.
For example, suppose sensitive data is being shared via unapproved SaaS applications. In that case, a CASB can reveal that activity and alert administrators so that they can stop shadowing IT and train employees on best practices. Similarly, if malware is detected, a CASB can identify the threat, quarantine it, and block malicious traffic to prevent re-entry into the organization’s network. In addition to securing data in the cloud, CASBs can provide additional protection for enterprise data accessed on personal devices via web and app filtering.