The Ultimate Guide to CASB – What it is and How it Works

The Ultimate Guide to CASB – What it is and How it Works

With employees using countless cloud applications, businesses need significant threat protection. CASBs quickly classify applications and help organizations safely utilize time-saving, productivity-enhancing tools. They use anomaly detection, threat intelligence to identify compromised credentials, and machine learning to prevent ransomware. They also arm the rest of your security infrastructure with their findings through out-of-the-box integrations and workflows.

What is a CASB?

A CASB such as the one by Versa Networks is security software that monitors, reports, and enforces your organization’s cloud apps and services security policy. CASBs provide visibility into the use of cloud apps within your network and protect against sensitive data patterns, ransomware, and other threats. They also help your organization comply with data privacy regulations, including HIPAA, GDPR, and PCI-DSS. The rise of the cloud and SaaS applications has increased the ease enterprises can upload and share data. This has created new threats that must be addressed, such as malware and phishing. CASBs help combat these threats by protecting the movement of data by restricting access and sharing privileges and securing the content of files through encryption and malware protection. CASBs can be deployed in either proxy or API mode, with the most advanced CASB solutions offering both. In proxy mode, CASBs intercept and inspect data in flight, providing inline policy enforcement, device posture management, and other capabilities such as granular access control. Alternatively, an API-based CASB integrates with cloud services and apps public application programming interfaces (APIs) to perform monitoring, reporting, and out-of-band policy enforcement.

What are the Benefits of a CASB?

A CASB enables enterprises to see and protect data moving through cloud-based applications. This visibility allows organizations to address shadow IT and prevent data leaks by ensuring that cloud use complies with enterprise policies. CASBs can also encrypt traffic to cloud providers, which helps protect sensitive data in transit. They can also monitor file activity and provide alerts when malware is detected in the cloud, allowing organizations to detect and respond to threats proactively. Many organizations are deploying a CASB to help stem the tide of ransomware, malware, phishing attacks, and other advanced threats that exploit the unique characteristics of cloud-based apps. A CASB can also prevent employees from accidentally sharing or uploading infected files to unsecure locations and block access by unauthorized users or compromised devices. When evaluating CASB vendors, determine which use cases your organization wants to prioritize and then evaluate vendor capabilities about those use cases. For example, to protect against insider threats, look for a solution with dynamic threat intelligence that can provide alerts when users download infected files from cloud services.

What are the Pillars of a CASB?

A CASB is typically equipped with multiple security tools to help enterprises secure their cloud environments. These include data loss prevention mechanisms, granular access controls, cloud threat detection and protection services (e.g., fingerprinting and encryption of files moving onto or off clouds), and various other tools to discover shadow IT, fight ransomware, and protect sensitive data. A CASB should also be able to seamlessly integrate with the rest of an enterprise’s security architecture and offer out-of-the-box integrations and workflows to simplify deployment. Traditional binary systems can only block or allow, but a CASB offers more flexible security policy enforcement options that better serve the dynamic work era of the modern workforce. It is agile enough to quickly detect and respond to threats, such as those that emerge from rogue cloud applications or are spread across the organization via shared links. It can also detect unusual behavior, such as a rogue employee downloading and sharing confidential files with outside parties, or it can identify insider threats like engineering designs and trade secrets being leaked through collaboration and messaging apps by employees on their way out of the business.

What are the Types of CASBs?

A CASB can help improve data visibility within a cloud environment through various detection, monitoring, and prevention tools. For example, a CASB can detect risky behaviors like users sharing files across unsanctioned cloud applications or storing sensitive information in cloud-based file storage environments. It can then prompt the security team to take the appropriate action, such as blocking the use of that service or application. CASBs can also offer protection from malware and ransomware by leveraging multiple threat intelligence sources, such as behavioral analytics, static and dynamic anti-malware detections, and machine learning to detect ransomware. In addition, a CASB can monitor cloud services for potential breaches by using a combination of auditing capabilities and alerting the security team to suspicious activity. Lastly, a CASB can work with an organization’s Identity and Access Management (IAM) tool to ensure secure access, especially when employees connect via personal devices. This enables the CISO/CIO to combat Shadow IT and protect valuable information at rest and in motion, including intellectual property, customer, and PCI data.

How do CASBs Work?

CASBs monitor employee cloud usage for potentially risky behavior, such as storing or sharing data across unsanctioned applications. They can then classify each application based on its trustworthiness, identify the kind of data it accesses, and determine if that data is sensitive. Once classified, CASBs can prompt security teams with the appropriate follow-up action – e.g., blocking access to the app, providing training on the app’s usage, or applying stricter security controls. Using malware detection, tokenization, and encryption, CASBs secure data movement to and within sanctioned or unsanctioned cloud services. They can also prevent data loss by enforcing DLP policies, such as upload prevention and endpoint sanitization (e.g., deleting full birth dates and replacing birth years). A CASB can be deployed as hardware or software but is usually delivered as a cloud service for better scalability and manageability. The platform uses either proxying or APIs and can be used by an organization to integrate with its existing identity-as-a-service (IDaaS) or single sign-on (SSO) tools for seamless authentication, visibility, and alerts.


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