What Is a Cloud Access Security Broker: A Detailed Guide

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Protecting your cloud assets is a must!
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Cybersecurity is one of the top concerns as companies migrate to the cloud. Over the past few years, cyber threats have significantly increased. Likewise, companies have been forced to find a combination of strategies to counter these threats. A cloud access security broker (CASB) is one of the most popular solutions.

A cloud access security broker provides extra security layers to help against bad actors and enforce existing security. Let’s go over the specifics of CASBs, why they’re popular, and more!

What Is a Cloud Access Security Broker

Simply put, a cloud access security broker is a tool for enforcing a company’s security policy in the cloud. It acts as a buffer between a cloud service provider and a consumer. You can run them on-premise or entirely within the cloud. 

CASB functions as a security layer for all your cloud access and implementations. Most importantly, it enables you to combine different security policies such as authentication, encryption, malware protection, credentialing, and more. In essence, you can have any combination of security policies to suit your business environment. 

This flexibility is one of the benefits of CASB, and it’s best achieved through 4 “pillars” that highlight what they offer. I’ll discuss those next.

The 4 Pillars of Cloud Access Security Brokers

Cloud access security brokers offer high levels of flexibility, security, and resilience for users through their 4 building blocks or pillars. These define what a cloud access security broker tool should cover for a well-rounded solution.

1. Visibility

Every company, regardless of size, requires complete visibility into all devices connected to its network. Subsequently, visibility is essential to prevent unauthorized access and security gaps. A CASB makes it easy to discover all managed and unmanaged devices and applications on your network. 

2. Compliance 

Compliance with different security and privacy standards is essential for your reputation and to protect your assets. CASB helps you follow many standards, such as HIPAA and FINRA, by maintaining these standards and highlighting potential issues.

3. Data Security

Protecting sensitive data from unauthorized access is vital for every business. A cloud access security broker offers this through detection and mitigation. Examples include encryption and document fingerprinting. Additionally, they go beyond typical on-site security solutions by filling in the gaps where non-cloud security solutions fall short.

4. Threat Protection

Businesses must work to expect and prevent threats before they impact the network. This proactive approach entails regular scanning, detection, and remediation of threats and security vulnerabilities. A cloud access security broker can offer this across multiple areas within your company.

Now that you know the defining pillars of CASB let’s see how they come together.

How Do CASBs Work?

CASB works as both on-site and cloud solutions, though it’s more effective as a cloud service because of its scalability and flexibility. Essentially, a cloud access security broker delivers high security and low costs through a 3-phase process.

1. Discovery

CASB automatically identifies all devices and applications within your company’s cloud. Particularly, they provide a list of third-party features and applications installed on different devices and the users accessing them. 

2. Classification

After providing the list of all devices and services, a cloud access security broker identifies their risk levels. It considers many aspects, such as the nature of the application, the type of data it handles, the number of users, and other factors to find the risk levels.

3. Remediation

A cloud access security broker sets policies for your data and applications based on these risk scores. It considers your security goals and the existing vulnerabilities and takes action on violations. 

Next, see some real-world uses for CASBs to better understand their importance. 

Top Uses for a Cloud Access Security Broker

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Safeguarding your Cloud Data.
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CASBs have many uses for your business. While they’re primarily used to fill the gaps between existing security solutions, they can do much more.

Helps You Control Cloud Usage and Costs

CASB provides granular visibility and control over your cloud usage and associated costs. It’s highly efficient in discovering “shadow IT” (using company IT without the IT team’s approval) usage. It can accurately point out what’s being used, and what isn’t used enough.

Increases Control over Security Policies

With a cloud access security broker, you can have granular control over your security policies. Essentially, they make it easy to define policies for specific services, users, and risks. Also, you can block, encrypt, alert, and bypass the enforcement of different policies to suit your needs.

Secures Sensitive Data

Securing sensitive data is one of the most common uses of a cloud access security broker. Moreover, most cloud access security broker tools come with advanced data loss prevention (DLP), making it easy to discover and protect sensitive data. It also uses tokenization and encryption to protect sensitive data, regardless of the device.

Protects against Threats

Protection from cloud-based threats is another essential benefit of CASB. In essence, it uses a combination of security strategies, such as anomaly detection and threat intelligence, to detect and block threats immediately. 

Alerts and Notifications

You can configure a cloud access security broker to send relevant alerts to specific users or groups to take action when needed. As a result, these alerts and notifications help with better understanding and improved actions.

The above uses should give you an idea of what you can do with CASB. Additionally, you can configure and implement these tools to your needs based on your expected outcomes. I’ll go over that next.

3 Ways to Implement Cloud Access Security Brokers

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Keep your cloud network safe with CASB.
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A cloud access security broker can be implemented on-site or in the cloud, though cloud-native versions are more popular. You have 3 ways to deploy a CASB solution that you should consider.

1. API Scanning

API scanning implementation is a good choice for protecting the data in your cloud storage and applications, but only when at rest. This implementation doesn’t offer real-time protection. However, the upsides are that API scanning provides comprehensive coverage and quick deployment. It also offers in-depth visibility into your data and the possible threats in your cloud infrastructure. 

2. Forward Proxy

This works best with VPN clients and multiple endpoints, providing Data Loss Prevention (DLP) in real-time. It works well on both sanctioned and unsanctioned devices, adding to your flexibility and coverage. However, it can’t scan data at rest. 

3. Reverse Proxy

Reverse proxy is ideal for devices outside the network security purview as it can redirect all traffic from all devices. Additionally, it offers DLP in real-time, but only on sanctioned applications. 

As you can see, each of these implementations is different, so make sure to choose the one that best matches your business requirements. 

Moving on, let’s see how CASB fits into the future of cybersecurity.

The Role of CASBs in a SASE-Dominated Future

The last few years have seen massive changes in cloud architecture. In essence, the outcome has been a comprehensive approach to monitoring, protecting, and easing access to the cloud called Secure Access Service Edge (SASE). It combines different technologies and approaches such as Firewall-as-a-Service (FWaaS), Zero Trust Network Access (ZTNA), CASB, and more. 

Consequently, the emergence of SASE has enhanced the importance of CASB. That said, companies embracing SASE are looking for unified solutions that include CASB. From a business standpoint, a unified security approach is more effective and comprehensive.

Top Security Software to Help You Implement CASB

If you’re looking to implement a CASB in your business, I’ve put together this list of the top 3 CASB solution providers.

Broadcom’s Symantec Cloud Secure Web Gateway

Symantec Cloud Secure Web Gateway is a resilient and performant cloud security service. This CASB sits between employees no matter where they are. Symantec’s offering protects your enterprise from cyber threats and controls the use of cloud applications. In addition, it’s a great solution for preventing data leaks and ensures you meet industrial security compliance standards. Universal Policy Enforcement (UPE) capabilities also allow you to create protection policies. 

Benefits 

  • Prevents threats consistently 
  • Monitors networks automatically and in real-time
  • Analyzes security Advanced security analysis
  • Manages security incidents 
  • Analyzes threats and protection in real-time 
  • Enables distributed workplaces 
  • Enforces policies 
  • Prevents data leaks
  • Ensures compliance with data access policies

GFI KerioControl

GFI KerioControl is a Unified Threat Management (UTM) software with advanced capabilities to identify threats and control traffic. It also blocks viruses and malware from entering your network. Additionally, KerioControl doubles up as a Next-Gen Firewall (NGFW) for businesses of any size. You can use this software in conjunction with your CASB for more control over your cloud security.

Benefits

  • Can be deployed as an app, virtual appliance, or turnkey hardware device
  • Comes with Intrusion Prevention Systems (IPS) to detect and block unwanted traffic
  • Deploys and is administered easily
  • Uses advanced web, content, and application filtering tools
  • Is highly available, as secondary systems kick-in in the event of a failure 
  • Comes with its own VPN tunneling
  • Generates and displays advanced reports for auditing and compliance

Netskope

Netskope is a great option for your business. With this offering, you get real-time data and threat protection. Protect your data and get excellent threat protection when accessing cloud services, websites, and private apps from anywhere, on any device.

Benefits

  • Utilizes cloud-native architecture to protect you dynamically 
  • Scales according to your needs flexibly
  • Provides visibility and detail; including user, group, location, device, and service
  • Works across thousands of cloud services
  • Supports a variety of deployment methods 
  • Has API connectors for managed apps 
  • Includes inline options for achieving real-time protection
  • Provides fast and secure access to the web, cloud, or private apps 
  • Is the world’s largest and highest-performing security private cloud
  • Comes with integration tools
  • Has centralized management

Before we end, let’s recap all that we have discussed in this article so far. 

Final Words 

Cyber attacks become more prevalent daily, and relying on a single security solution is no longer the answer. Utilizing software like CASB can help your company fill the gaps within its security and improve overall protection. CASB solutions offer complete coverage over your cloud network and can let your team breathe easily.

We hope this guide acts as a good starting point to evaluate the benefits of adding a CASB solution to your security setup.

Do you have more questions about CASB? Check out the FAQ and Resources sections below!

FAQ

What’s the role of a CASB?

A cloud access security broker sits between the cloud service providers and consumers. A CASB helps companies to implement custom security policies that identify risks, block unwanted traffic, and prevent the loss or leak of sensitive data. It helps with auditing and compliance as well. 

Are CASB and SASE the same?

No, they are not the same. CASB is one of the components of SASE. You can choose to integrate just a CASB tool in your cloud security infrastructure or have a SASE to get a more comprehensive security cover. 

Are DLP and CASB the same?

No, they’re not. Data Loss Prevention (DLP) protects your sensitive data from leaks or loss and is one of the aspects of a CASB solution. In other words, CASB is more comprehensive and encompasses DLP. 

Do I need a CASB for my company?

Yes, a CASB provides visibility into your cloud infrastructure and helps you stay on top of your cloud usage and the resulting costs. It can also protect your sensitive data and stop viruses and malware from entering your network. Due to these benefits, it’s good to have a CASB in your organization. 

Is CASB a SaaS?

A CASB solution can be implemented on-site or as a SaaS, though the latter is more common. As a SaaS implementation, a CASB can control access to your application, block malicious traffic, and can be the security layer for enforcing your custom security policies. 

Resources

TechGenix: Article on the Benefits of SASE

Learn all about how SASE can benefit your organization.

TechGenix: Article on top FWaaS Providers

Know the top FWaaS providers

TechGenix: Article on Cloud Network Security

Read about cloud network security and its implementation.

TechGenix: Article on SASE

Educate yourself on SASE and its benefits.

TechGenix: Article on Zero Trust Security

Acquaint yourself with zero trust security.

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