Cloud access security brokers (CASBs) are security solutions placed between cloud service consumers and providers, enforcing security policies when users or entities want to access cloud-based resources. CASBs are a key element of enterprise security because they enable businesses to leverage cloud services while protecting sensitive data.
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CASBs act as an intermediary between users and cloud service providers, addressing security gaps in an organization’s cloud usage. To enforce security policies and prevent data breaches, CASBs combine multiple methods of security policy enforcement such as authentication, authorization, encryption, single sign-on (SSO), credential mapping, device profiling, and alerting—as well as malware and ransomware detection and remediation.
CASBs are flexible and versatile. They can be hosted in a cloud platform or on-premises datacenter, or even as a hardware device. They provide comprehensive coverage across software-as-a-service (SaaS), platform-as-a-service (PaaS), and infrastructure-as-a-service (IaaS) environments. Because of this multi-environment support, a CASB enables IT to expand an organization’s security policies from on-premises infrastructure to the cloud when migrating.
Furthermore, a CASB functions as a centralized platform for security policy enforcement by consolidating multiple policies and implementing them across every resource the business uses in the cloud—regardless of where users are located or which devices they use to access your cloud environment.
Cloud computing and SaaS application usage is growing, and many IT teams don’t have a clear grasp of all the apps in use on their networks. This type of “hidden app” is called shadow IT, and it presents a risk for organizations.
At every organization, there are four types of apps, each with different restrictions. First, there are business-critical applications that are generally approved to use within the company’s digital workspace. Then there are recreational and social applications some companies allow their employees to use while working, like Spotify. Most organizations also have restricted apps that are deemed inappropriate or not productive by the company. And then there are apps IT doesn’t know are being used.
To keep corporate data secure, IT needs to know what apps are being used so they can put granular controls in place to minimize risk. A CASB addresses these challenges by providing visibility, data security, threat prevention, and compliance. It enables the organization to manage user access to all cloud resources. A CASB enhances compliance by integrating regulations into its security policies.
Data loss prevention, or DLP, detects and classifies a company’s most sensitive data across cloud providers, devices, and resources to prevent data loss. This function searches across all platforms for sensitive data, alerting on any potential data security risk.
Two-factor authentication requires a two-step process to ensure proper user identification, such as sending a code to the user’s mobile device to verify the identity. Once authenticated, the user can access multiple applications using a single identifier.
This function secures the data before it reaches the cloud, scrambling it so even if it is lost or stolen, it’s useless to an attacker. File-level encryption keeps the information secure at rest and in mobile devices.
Besides authentication and authorization capabilities, a CASB enables administrators to have complete control over application access. For instance, they can revoke user access to specific files, devices, or users when an employee leaves the company or a device is lost or stolen.
Top CASB solutions provide thorough reporting, including a comprehensive history of how the files and resources are accessed and used.
This function enables administrators to monitor activities in real time, analyze the user behavior baseline, and identify anomalous user activity.
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There are two types of cloud access security broker solutions.
In-line CASB solutions are placed in the path between the user and SaaS apps. In-line CASBs see all user traffic and can quickly identify which cloud applications people are using. This model is beneficial for organizations using forward proxy architecture and is an excellent way to identify shadow IT. In-line placement also enables real-time control over traffic flows, and it often provides native DLP for data in motion.
Out-of-band CASB solutions are placed outside the path between the user and applications. This alignment provides more flexibility since it can be placed beside the SaaS through APIs or endpoints and obtain data from them. Out-of-band CASBs discover SaaS via app connectors or log data from endpoints or proxies. They can only learn about shadow IT if they receive logs from a device positioned between the user and the shadow IT component. This type of CASB often needs to share control commands with the API integrated apps, which can be cumbersome. However, out-of-band solutions often provide DLP functionality for data at rest as well as in motion.
There are many benefits to using a cloud access security broker, including:
Important and everyday use cases for a CASB include improving visibility, increased control, and enhanced compliance.
When looking for a CASB vendor, there are several functions organizations should look for.
The ability to identify shadow IT: The more information the CASB platform can have about shadow IT applications, the better. You should look for a solution that has a comprehensive app repository. Another essential feature you should consider is the ability to provide a built-in risk score analysis. You want the solution to tell you where the shadow apps are and if they are risky or safe.
The deployment model: Keep in mind that the deployment type will significantly determine how the CASB can detect shadow IT. In-line solutions usually offer native functionality. Out-of-band CASBs integrate with other solutions, which can be third-party vendors for discovering shadow IT. Additionally, look for a solution that includes access controls that are executed in real time versus near real time.
Built-in security functions: Look for a solution that integrates seamlessly with third-party security services or provides native advanced security functions. Key features include data loss prevention for data at rest and in motion, malware protection, and built-in user behavior analytics.
Finally, don’t overlook the ability to support all workers across multiple devices and environments.
A strong cloud access security broker bridges gaps in security created by distributed and hybrid environments by enhancing visibility and control over how applications and data are accessed. Citrix Secure Internet Access (SIA) sits in-line between the user and the SaaS applications. The traffic from user devices goes through Citrix SIA, enabling holistic visibility into SaaS apps. IT teams can see the apps at a glance or opt for a more detailed view per app. This solution also offers granular control of SaaS app access, enabling domain restrictions for productivity apps and detailed control of social media at the functional level.