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What Is A Cloud Access Security Broker (CASB)?

Cloud-based computing has seen exponential growth after the pandemic, as companies are now migrating their infrastructure to the cloud. Using cloud-based infrastructure has not only allowed companies to manage data more efficiently but has also boosted business productivity and scalability. 

However, cloud-based environments have fallen victim to their own set of cyber attacks mainly due to the lack of secured network infrastructure. This has increased the necessity of a third-party security mediator known as a Cloud Access Security Broker, or CASB. 

So, what is CASB? 

CASBs are security mediators that function between a customer and the cloud service provider. They primarily work on enforcing all the security policies that are required to help secure an organization’s cloud security by preventing cyber-attacks and data breaches. 

We have prepared this comprehensive guide for you to learn more about CASB and analyze its many benefits. 

So, let’s dive right in!

What is A Cloud Access Security Broker (CASB)?

As mentioned before, a cloud access security broker is a security solution that acts as a point of security policy enforcement between Cloud Services Providers and their customers. CASB security focuses on safeguarding platform as a service (PaaS), Infrastructure as a service (IaaS), and software as a service (SaaS) from potential threats. 

CASB employs a zero-trust solution to cloud security by implementing data breach prevention, access controls, threat mitigation, and better visibility. 

It monitors traffic flowing through it, allowing companies to detect any malicious activity that commits a breach of security policies. With the evergrowing risks involved in cloud-based infrastructure, CASB has become a necessity that cannot be ignored. 

The 4 Pillars Of CASB

The 4 Pillars Of CASB

CASB has 4 pillars that it builds upon to provide complete security to organizations. 

Compliance:

Due to the evergrowing concern of customers regarding the safety and privacy of their data, companies around the world need to strictly follow security regulations laid down by local, international, and government authorities. Compliance requirements like HIPAA, GDPR, SOC 2, and CCPA are examples of the most common regulatory requirements that companies strictly need to follow. 

Through its array of security features, CASB helps to ensure compliance with all industry regulations. CASB features such as access control, visibility, and data protection help ensure the complete safety of the customer’s data. 

Data Security:

Ever since companies moved to the cloud, securing sensitive data has become more challenging. In comparison to storing on-site data centers back in the day, data is now stored on the cloud. This increases the risks of a data breach, as anyone with an internet connection can access information on the cloud. 

CASB’s data protection protocol and access control help to provide robust security to data stored on the cloud. Accessibility is restricted, and all activities are monitored, providing an all-round security solution. 

Visibility:

Due to the shared responsibility model, organizations do not get complete visibility of the cloud environment as the cloud service provider doesn’t provide any access to the underlying cloud infrastructure. Activities on the cloud, such as shadow IT, increase risks of malicious activity that the company does not detect. 

CASB provides complete visibility solutions to enterprises, allowing them to see who and what accesses their cloud applications. An in-depth insight is provided to companies, giving information on all attacks on the underlying infrastructure, and access logs allow one to view who has accessed cloud resources. 

Threat Protection:

Cloud services are more prone to threats as the cloud infrastructure is out of bounds of the company. Stolen credentials or unintentional clicks on malicious content can also cause employees to lose their accounts, opening the doors to threat actors. 

CASB employs robust threat protection solutions by detecting and mitigating threats in real-time using its UEBA machine language model. Other than its threat intelligence capabilities, CASB also enforces strong access controls and visibility to all activities, allowing you to flag any malicious behavior. 

What Do CASBs Offer?

Top CASB solution providers offer their services through cloud-based services. However, on-premise software and hardware options are also available. Here is more to what CASB offers using the varying features that make it different from traditional security solutions that companies use. 

  • Preventing data loss.

  • Enhanced Malware Detection.

  • Access Control.

  • Threat prevention using a powerful ML model. 

  • Misconfiguration scans. 

  • IAM enforcement. 

  • Solutions for encrypting data and securely storing decryption keys. 

  • Risk analysis

  • In-depth visibility.  

How does a CASB work?

CASB follows a three-step process to provide comprehensive security to enterprises around the world from threats. These three steps allow CASB to provide more visibility and protection to data over the cloud. 

  • Discovery: CASB runs automatically to detect all activities in a cloud environment. It allows you to view who is accessing what, also covering shadow IT.

  • Classification: After identifying all activities on the cloud, CASB carries out a risk assessment to determine the risks associated with this activity. 

  • Remediation: Once the risks of activity have been labeled, the tool then moves to enforce security policies to safeguard the system. If any violation of these policies occurs, the required steps are taken to mitigate the situation. 

How to implement a CASB?

CASB provides a range of solutions that can be customized to suit the needs of an organization’s cloud environment. The best way to implement CASB in your organization is by following the five steps mentioned below. 

1. Assess:  An assessment of your cloud environment needs to be carried out. This will allow you to have a clear understanding of the probable attack surface and what steps you can take to secure it. 

2. Vendor: If the required products have been decided on, you need to check for a trustworthy vendor. A lot of CASB solutions operate in the market, but not all of them are effective.

3. Integrating With Cloud Services: Next, it is time to integrate CASB with your cloud services. Authentication methods such as SSO and MFA can be used to secure access to users.

4. Policy Configuration: Once the needful is done, you need to configure the security policies in accordance with your industry. Research or consult your CASB vendor to identify which policies work best for your company. 

5. Automated Monitoring and Threat Detection: It is now time to automate your CASB to provide you with real-time visibility and threat prevention. Automation of your security detail allows you to employ a DevSecOps approach. 

Benefits of Cloud Access Security Broker (CASB)

Providing cloud security has become challenging mainly due to the evergrowing threats to the industry. Lack of control of the cloud environment for the company has also made it harder to identify all probable attack surfaces. Companies that have remote employees have seen an increase in attacks on the cloud environment due to threats coming from shadow IT and other malicious sources. 

Most importantly, it has become harder for enterprises to ensure 100% data security for their customers. Phenomena like data leaking, data breaches, and unauthorized access have become a norm due to anyone connected to the internet being able to access the cloud environment. Some companies resorted to attaining services from different vendors to resolve these challenges. This proved to be complex for the companies to run. 

CASB came as a one-stop solution that helped counter all the major problems associated with cloud computing. There is no need to get different tools from different vendors and worry about their compatibility. Better access controls and visibility are provided to companies. Threat prevention protocols are applied, and data protection is prioritized. 

Challenges of using a CASB

CASB is a very useful security tool for any company, but there are some challenges associated with it that companies should be aware of. 

Integration With Cloud Environment: Companies need to make sure that the CASB service they are getting is compatible with the cloud environment and will completely integrate with their system. Failure to do so will result in ineffectiveness. 

Mitigation Capabilities: CASB service providers may provide limited security services to companies. Some CASB tools can detect threats to a cloud environment but are not equipped to mitigate them. Such tools are useless and a bad investment. 

Protecting Data: A CASB provider can directly access your sensitive data. Therefore, it is necessary to check for the reliability of the vendor to ensure they won’t misuse the company’s data. 

Scalability: CASBs need to provide their services to multiple companies at the same time, which keeps them occupied. It is wise to choose a vendor that has free resources to scale itself up as your company grows. 

How do CASBs integrate with SASE?

SASE, or Secure Access Service Edge, is a cloud infrastructure solution that can be integrated with CASB to provide overall security for a cloud environment. SASE works as a one-stop solution for network infrastructure and security, making it highly preferred by enterprises around the world. To answer all CASB vs SASE debates, SASE bundles already include CASB cyber security solutions. Companies that are looking for a more powerful option can consider choosing SASE over CASB.

FAQ

Here are some queries that people have regarding Cloud Access Security Brokers:

What is the difference between CASB and DLP?

A CASB and DLP differ in the scope of assets that they need to safeguard. CASB takes care of a wider range of assets in a cloud environment. Whereas DLP solely focuses on protecting all data that is flowing in and out of an organization. 

What is the purpose of the CASB?

CASB helps to ensure threat prevention in cloud environments by providing access controls, increased visibility, and data protection protocols. It also helps to make sure that a company meets security regulatory standards. 

Is CASB the same as SASE?

No, CASB focuses on securing assets in a cloud environment. At the same time, SASE employs network security features over its network infrastructure services. SASE also provides CASB, as it is a full-stack security solution. 

How Do You Choose a CASB?

There are a few factors that need to be considered before choosing a CASB. This includes compatibility, integration, security features, and cost.

Is a CASB All I Need for Cloud Security?

CASB does offer all-round security for cloud environments. However, they are not the only security you are going to need. Network security is important as well, and it is wise to consider security tools that overlook network security. 

Conclusion

Cloud computing is promising, allowing companies to scale and offer their services more effectively. It surely comes with some major concerns, such as data breaches and unauthorized access. Cloud Access Security Brokers help in resolving these concerns to unlock the full potential of cloud-based infrastructures. 

CASB allows companies to have more control over the cloud and provides more in-depth visibility of all activities, making it easier to detect threats. It has been a game changer that has revolutionized the cloud security industry and helped people embrace the prowess of cloud computing. 

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Anshu Bansal
Anshu Bansal
Anshu Bansal, a Silicon Valley entrepreneur and venture capitalist, currently co-founds CloudDefense.AI, a cybersecurity solution with a mission to secure your business by rapidly identifying and removing critical risks in Applications and Infrastructure as Code. With a background in Amazon, Microsoft, and VMWare, they contributed to various software and security roles.
Protect your Applications & Cloud Infrastructure from attackers by leveraging CloudDefense.AI ACS patented technology.

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