What is a CASB?
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.
What does a CASB do?
CASBs act as an intermediary between users and cloud service providers, addressing security gaps in an organisation’s cloud usage. To enforce security policies and prevent data breaches, CASBs combine multiple methods of security policy enforcement such as authentication, authorisation, 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 organisation’s security policies from on-premises infrastructure to the cloud when migrating.
Furthermore, a CASB functions as a centralised 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.
A CASB enables businesses to manage bring your own device (BYOD) and hybrid workforces by implementing granular security controls.
Why do organisations need a CASB?
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 organisations.
At every organisation, 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 organisations 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 minimise risk. A CASB addresses these challenges by providing visibility, data security, threat prevention, and compliance. It enables the organisation to manage user access to all cloud resources. A CASB enhances compliance by integrating regulations into its security policies.
Benefits of CASB
There are many benefits to using a cloud access security broker, including:
Visibility and reporting
CASBs ensure the organisation has visibility into all cloud programs, apps, and files that the business is using. The solution identifies the applications accessed by users in an organisation, including unsanctioned and unknown applications, for all users within the organisation, on mobile or desktop devices.
With a CASB, you can restrict access to provide granular control on app usage, social media, file uploads, and personal accounts. CASB capabilities include controlling specific functions in the app at the user level. For instance, you can allow app access only to corporate-approved domains, preventing users from using their personal Microsoft 365.
Businesses can outsource their systems and data storage to the cloud but keep responsibility for compliance with privacy and security regulations. Cloud access security brokers help monitor and maintain compliance requirements by integrating a range of regulations such as PCI DSS, GDPR, HIPAA, and more. A CASB identifies compliance risks and provides recommendations to the security team.
Cloud migration enables teams to collaborate remotely, but it also increases cybersecurity challenges. A CASB with data loss prevention capabilities extends the reach of security policies from on-premises infrastructure to the cloud, enabling IT to see if sensitive content is traveling within or from the cloud. Additionally, cloud access security broker solutions allow the creation of new policies for cloud-specific content while addressing information overflow and the need to manage increasing amounts of data.
Employees or third-party actors can leak or steal sensitive data, whether by negligence or malicious intent. CASBs create a baseline of standard usage patterns, thus helping detect malicious behaviour. Their security functions may include risk scoring, zero-day threat prevention, blocking access to risky regions, or full-scale malware protection.
What can you use a CASB for?
Important and everyday use cases for a CASB include improving visibility, increased control, and enhanced compliance.
Improve visibility: Organisations want to be able to identify unsanctioned and unknown apps and the users accessing them. It’s critical to determine if these apps are safe or dangerous by identifying atypical access, such as unknown locations, sudden excess traffic flow, and more. CASB solutions can also help developers track their new app adoption and know how many users have begun to use the new application.
Increase control: It’s very common for organisations to restrict the usage of corporate applications like Microsoft 365 to corporate domains, thus not allowing personal email accounts within the organisation’s network. A CASB enables granular control over social media apps. For example, a business can choose to allow access to company social media accounts while blocking browsing or shopping searches in Google, Yahoo, or Bing.
Enhance compliance: A wide range of companies now fall under the coverage of regulatory requirements, such as HIPAA or GDPR. Ensuring data privacy and security across distributed environments can be a hassle and a time-consuming job for IT professionals. CASBs make enforcing compliance simpler by integrating the regulation requirements into the security policies.
What to look for in a CASB solution
When looking for a CASB vendor, there are several functions organisations 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 behaviour analytics.
Finally, don’t overlook the ability to support all workers across multiple devices and environments.
Citrix CASB solutions
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.