How CASB Security is Revolutionizing Data Protection


CASB vendors initially focused on providing visibility into unsanctioned software-as-a-service (SaaS) usage, also known as Shadow IT. This capability remains an essential pillar for most CASB solutions.

CASBs monitor cloud usage and detect unauthorized devices or applications to stop data breaches from occurring. These tools also ingest logs, prioritize business-critical apps to preserve bandwidth, and protect against malware.

  1. Threat Detection & Prevention

The rapid rise of cloud computing has shifted business resources from the corporate data center. While this is convenient for employees who can access their files from any device at anytime, it poses significant security risks. Traditional security tools cannot protect data stored in third-party locations like Box or OneDrive, because they never see the actual network traffic flowing to and from those apps. This is where CASBs come in.

Originally, CASBs were developed to discover shadow IT (unapproved services) and help administrators block unauthorized access to cloud environments. But CASBs have evolved to become much more than that. Leading CASB solutions have strong visibility capabilities that allow IT teams to see how data is being used and where it’s going. They can also detect phishing attacks, malware, and other cyber threats launched from the cloud and protect against data leaks.

Many CASBs offer field-level protection capabilities that can watermark, quarantine, or redact sensitive file patterns such as Social Security numbers to prevent them from being copied and sent to unauthorized destinations.

Look for a solution that offers these features and evaluate the vendor landscape to ensure it can support your specific use cases. Consider whether you want a multimode CASB that can operate in proxy, API, or both modes to protect SaaS and IaaS.

  1. Encryption & Tokenization

As enterprises accelerated the formal adoption of cloud applications, they found that employees used many unsanctioned services. These unsanctioned apps could expose hackers to sensitive information like financial data, proprietary data, and social security numbers. A CASB solution provides visibility into all cloud applications and data, allowing IT to assess the risk of unsanctioned services and enact policies accordingly.

CASBs also have capabilities that encrypt or tokenize data destined for cloud services, helping to reduce the risk of breaches caused by compromised credentials. However, encryption is a complicated technical domain that requires subject matter expertise beyond what most CASBs are prepared to offer. As a result, most CASBs have restricted their encryption/tokenization features to a small number of mainstream cloud services.

Additionally, some CASBs support a risk-based approach to authentication. This can be helpful when organizations want to step up authentication challenges for certain users.

During the CASB vendor landscape evaluation process, examining each solution’s track record in preventing breaches and responding quickly to security events is important. Determining which vendors have strong integrations with secure web gateways, application firewalls, email providers, and other tools in the organization’s security ecosystem is equally important. Lastly, evaluate each vendor’s ability to meet the specific use cases in your organization’s cloud environment.

  1. Authentication & Authorization

Organizations need a comprehensive security platform that combines CASB, DLP, encryption, and information rights management capabilities. A CASB provides visibility and protection from cloud-based threats to protect against insiders, stolen credentials, ransomware, malware, and other malicious behavior.

An all-in-one CASB solution enables organizations to use one application for all of their SaaS, IaaS, and web security needs, saving administrators time from having to configure multiple tools.

CASB solutions typically provide enhanced visibility into organizational usage of commercial and non-commercial cloud applications, including unsanctioned services, known as Shadow IT. Unlike traditional security tools, CASBs discover unsanctioned apps in an organization’s environment, regardless of whether those applications are used on managed or unmanaged devices. They can also detect unauthorized data uploads, and they may identify users with compromised accounts.

Enterprise IT managers have come to expect more from their authentication tools than a binary yes or no. They want CASBs that offer risk-based authentication, watermarking, quarantine, redaction, and more. Leading CASBs also help organizations meet regulatory compliance requirements and benchmark their security configurations against constantly changing regulatory standards like SOX, HIPAA, and GDPR.

They do this through policy awareness, sandboxing, deep packet inspection, and threat detection features. They can also encrypt data as it moves between cloud services and on user devices, making it unreadable to attackers if intercepted and protecting sensitive files from theft even if a device is lost.

  1. Regulatory Compliance

With the rise of remote work and bring-your-own-device (BYOD) policies, it’s become more difficult for IT to maintain visibility into cloud deployments. With CASB, organizations can discover the entire cloud ecosystem and ensure the organization’s data policies govern all applications.

CASBs are designed to monitor the behavior of users in the cloud and alert administrators to any suspicious activity. The threat protection pillar identifies external threats and attacks, while the malware prevention pillar scans files for any unauthorized content that can interrupt productivity or steal sensitive information from an employee’s device.

Lastly, the regulatory compliance pillar helps organizations meet strict security and privacy regulations like GDPR, HIPAA, PCI DSS, etc. By leveraging policy awareness and data classification functionality, CASBs help IT benchmark the security configuration of their entire cloud environment against constantly changing regulatory requirements. This allows them to meet strict access controls while ensuring that only approved and authenticated employees can access critical data.

Final Words

Moreover, they can block any unauthorized content that violates an organization’s data policies and provide sensitive information that is never transferred off the corporate network.

CASBs also can apply granular, risk-based authentication challenges to individual users and devices, further improving data protection. This is especially important given the proliferation of shadow IT, or applications and infrastructure managed outside of the purview of an IT department.

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