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What is CASB? and Why You Need it


Cloud Access Security Brokers, who are they?

Organizations today have a cloud-based environment spread across an array of applications, locations and devices. CASB is the armor that can protect you from bad actors or actions from violating your cybersecurity either internally or externally, on cloud.

When you read such things, your mind might immediately shift to firewalls, antivirus, and the likes of such security barriers. You might wonder why you would even need a CASB. The truth is that CASB is to cloud what firewalls was to your PCs, once upon a time.

Owing to the headlines these days, you are aware of data breaches happening across all verticals using a variety of vectors. From a DDoS attack to a simple phishing attack, from a disgruntled employee with privileged access to a hacker taking over privileged accounts—cyberattacks occur in a variety of forms. This trouble only proliferates when you consider data in the cloud, beyond your direct reach and without enough security measures around it.

The adoption of cloud took off despite these apprehensions owing to its feasibility, cost efficiency, and most importantly its collaborative nature. Cloud enables organizations to collaborate at the fingertips, being miles away. As is the nature of every digital transformation, there are downsides and for cloud, it is security concerns. But, as a necessity for progress, it is crucial to address the security flaws with the right set of tools and enhance it rather than cut back on innovation.

CASB does precisely this. In this read, you’ll know how CASB works, and why you need it with an IAM solution.

What is CASB?

The cloud access security broker (CASB) is a barrier between your internal infrastructure and that of a cloud application. This barrier, monitors accesses and ensures there is no violation of access or sensitive data. It extends your security policies beyond an on-prem infrastructure and applies it to cloud. Along with this, it can also help you make silos of access for different devices, which is a necessity for today’s BYOD work culture. It is essentially your risk assessment tool for a cloud environment.

Its inception in 2011 came as a simple but effective tool to gain visibility over cloud application accesses. This was indeed a necessity considering the effects of shadow IT in an organization. These led to many accesses getting sanctioned without IT awareness—making it impossible to manage. Even though it hasn’t been all that long since it came to the picture, CASB has changed into a risk management solution for cloud applications. Gartner also predicts that by 2022, almost 60% of enterprises will be using CASB as part of their cloud security strategy. This shouldn’t come as a surprise, considering the landscape of threat that is prevalent today.

According to a report, the average enterprise used 1,427 distinct cloud services in 2019. With cloud adoption rising, this number is not going to come down but is only going to move upwards. You’d think that with cloud adoption being what it is, its security might be heeded to as well. Yet, the average enterprise experiences 11 cloud-based internal threats every month! It is far-fetched to consider all the risks that can creep in from an external network when internal threats are as high. Thus, a solution like CASB that protects you in cloud is the need of the hour and should be part of your security strategy.

How does CASB work?

CASB does control the flow of traffic between you and a cloud application, but its actual location is either in your corporate data center or the cloud.

Its configuration has three modes:

  1. Forward Proxy: In this, all the access to a cloud application must pass through a proxy. The challenge here is the requirement of installing certificates on all the devices. This is a cumbersome process if your organization has a large number of employees who use multiple devices.
  2. Reverse Proxy: This is the most common type of CASB, as it acts as an authenticator itself. These do not require signatures and can work for unmanaged devices as well.
  3. API-based system: This is easy to deploy like reverse proxy, but it relies on API support from cloud applications. Not all cloud applications can support this.

It is not uncommon to have multimode CASB, using combinations of these three for better efficiency and coverage of applications and devices.

Today’s CASB solution – led by IAM

In the market today, there are a lot of CASB vendors. Including several acquisitions from the bigger software vendors. Thus, organizations are adopting the use of multiple types of CASB for different purposes as well. One to solve your shadow IT issues, one to act as a governance solution on cloud or even perform the Single Sign-On function for all your applications. This leads to a long list of complications of vendor management and cumbersome processes.

A solution that is specifically crafted to let your organizations take a sigh of relief, whether on-prem or cloud, is Identity and Access Management. So, don’t pick and prod at several solutions to fill in every security gap. Instead, embrace one solution and enhance it with one powerful CASB solution.

Cross Identity is a complete Identity and Access Management that takes care of your access management as well as your identity governance and administration requirements, all at once. Cross Identity has also been named as a leader in innovation, product, and technology by leading analysts.

And a CASB vendor that can do the deed for you is Netskope. They have also been named as leaders by analysts and positioned highest for ‘completeness of vision’. This positioning speaks volumes about technological advancement to fulfill requirements that are the hour’s need.

The four pillars of CASB and how they can transform your organizational security with IAM:

CASB has four pillars of functionality:

  1. Visibility: A CASB solution gives you a complete account of the number of cloud accesses that exist, even beyond IT awareness. Take this a notch higher with IAM and obtain fine grained access data. Users, profiles, roles, and access permissions can all be well defined and managed with CI. And the control of this data on cloud can be provided by Netskope. This gives you a holistic view of the accesses with context.
  2. Compliance: Compliance is not only about abiding certain regulations to stay beyond hefty fines, but also about cybersecurity. Whether it is EU’s GDPR, HIPPA, or HITECH for Healthcare or any other sector, at their core, these regulations exist to safeguard Personally Identifiable Information. To stay compliant, organizations have to know where this data is stored. You can achieve this effectively only when CASB is combined with IAM.
    An IAM solution can clearly tell you who has access to what data, and ensure sensitive data has multiple layers of authentication. Netskope can provide insights on the unsanctioned usage of this data to either block it or allow CI to step up authentication as and when needed.
    CI also provides reports based on the frequency that you like. This is a great asset for audit trails.
  3. Data Security: One cannot emphasize enough on how important data is. Access to one sensitive file and your entire organization suffers the loss of money, data and most importantly reputation. If this is your customer data, then it is years of suffering for them as well as for you. So we are all on the same page that data security has to be a priority. With an IAM solution like CI, you can streamline privileged accesses to sensitive data and also monitor them in real-time. A CASB solution like Netskope can add context to this with time, location, and behavior patterns in combination with the IAM access. This leaves no stone unturned to ensure security. Any change or deviation from a user’s usual pattern and automatically they will be under the radar for step-up authentication or even blocking of access altogether. CASB can also act as a Data Loss Protection solution, wherein if the bad actor has gotten hold of your data, they cannot send it beyond your designed infrastructure. This can be handy even if there is no bad actor at play. Employees use free emailing services like Gmail regularly. So what’s stopping them from sending your data to their mailers out of an urgency to get a job done? Nothing, unless you specify it forbid it. That’s where this capability for DLP comes to play.
  4. Threat Protection: Your organizational security is one phishing attempt away from getting hacked. It is a reality that occurs regularly. A CASB can detect if any malware has entered your network. With this, you can be more proactive than reactive and nip the danger in the bud. Moreover, a CASB like Netskope carries out a real-time risk analysis. The response to the detected threats can be controlled by an IAM solution before your IT could even gather what has happened. CI can alert you of unusual events from Netskope on a real-time basis, and potentially deactivate the identified users who pose a threat to you.

From CASB to Cloud Access Security Intelligence (CASI)

Adding context to your accesses and risk assessment is a full-proof method to maximizing security. Hence, Forrester even renamed CASB to CASI that is Cloud Access Security Intelligence. A fitting name for the intelligent insights that you get from the modern-day CASB.

Intelligent solutions are today’s demand, given how hackers are getter smarter. You don’t want to be bested by their intelligence, instead, equip yourself with the right tools.

This danger is not just specific to bigger organizations. It is a myth the mid-market organizations aren’t subjected to threats. An Internet Security Threat report stated how 43% of all cyberattacks are targeted at SMBs. This predicament is because these organizations sometimes live in denial of the dangers that can affect them. Also, they aren’t as equipped to challenge the hackers.

Cross Identity aims to change this paradigm by making IAM easy to implement, user-adoption friendly, cost-effective and, most importantly, simple. It can be managed even by your non-IT folks. Coming to the applications in use—owing to the cost-efficiency and feasibility a lot of mid-market applications are cloud, exposing them further to the bad actors. While larger enterprises may have hybrid environments, a lot of newer organizations are cloud-first.

With the lack of human resources in place, mid-market organizations shouldn’t have to deal with multiple CASB solutions or even numerous security solutions. One IAM solution like CI imbibing one CASB solution like Netskope can transform your security posture.

Including such solutions in your cybersecurity strategy can be the difference between you embracing digital transformation or a headline report for a breach. Plan your cybersecurity wisely.

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