Digital transformation is on a steady climb, especially since the global pandemic. With remote work redefining parameters of work environments, organizations are now increasing their focus on online productivity systems and collaboration platforms. In this new normal, businesses across industries have adopted different models of cloud infrastructure services. Cloud infrastructures provide on-demand services that promote ease of use, access control, content collaboration, and reduction in internal storage resources among many other benefits.

Cybersecurity concerns in cloud infrastructures

Cloud security is a part of cybersecurity that aims to secure cloud infrastructure services and systems from potential risks and attacks. While cloud infrastructures have many benefits to offer businesses, it's important to acknowledge cloud security concerns. Recognizing these concerns will help organizations find the right tools and technologies to overcome them.

Some of these cybersecurity concerns include:

  • The perimeter-less nature of a cloud platform makes it difficult to monitor who accesses what, complicating cloud security monitoring.
  • The shared security responsibility model often causes confusion in terms of setting up configurations, often resulting in unintentional misconfigurations that can be costly affairs.
  • Malicious software, which is easier to implant in organizations via untrusted cloud app usage.
  • Data theft or manipulation through hijacked user accounts when credentials are compromised.
  • Using an API while facilitating communication between applications in the cloud, which can expose vulnerabilities when authentication, encryption, and other access control methods are poorly designed.

CASB: A brief introduction

A cloud access security broker, or CASB, is cloud-hosted or on-premises software or hardware that functions as an intermediary policy enforcement point between cloud users and cloud service providers. A CASB ensures security across diverse cloud infrastructure models such as:

  • Platform as a service (PaaS)
  • Software as a service (SaaS)
  • Infrastructure as a service (IaaS))

The evolution of CASBs has brought about benefits that vary from compliance, data security, and threat protection to overall data and traffic visibility. Recent studies report 60% of enterprises worldwide will make use of a CASB to secure their cloud infrastructure systems by 2022.

Role of CASB in cybersecurity

A CASB is different from other security approaches and technologies such as SIEM, web application firewalls, and secure web gateways in that it provides visibility around cloud data apps and files, offers insights on user traffic, and enforces security policies. The growing shift towards cloud infrastructures has created gaps that need to be addressed when it comes to cybersecurity.

Some of the cybersecurity use cases that a CASB can help with are:

Monitoring and managing shadow IT

Shadow IT opens up a challenge for enterprises that deal with numerous third-party apps on a regular basis. With the remote work model redefining the way employees and organizations function, the issue of suspicious applications gaining unauthorized access to enterprise data on the cloud must be considered.

To combat this issue, a CASB offers features that are able to block users' attempts to authorize unapproved third-party applications to use work or personal credentials to navigate confidential enterprise data. Ultimately, a CASB is able to provide directions to the IT team as to what can be done to best remediate the issue, be it alert the user attempting to provide access, limit the third-party application's access, or prohibit its access altogether.

User monitoring to mitigate threats

A CASB is great for mitigating threats, since attackers often target unsecured networks when compromising enterprise data. With a CASB solution, organizations can monitor users' behavior in real time and closely track any instance of prohibited activity. For example, a CASB is able to monitor:

Users from both managed and unmanaged endpoints.

  • Cloud app usage to provide comprehensive visibility on user information including user location and device.
  • User access to resources and data.
  • Privileged user access and related configuration changes.
  • Suspicious traffic movement.
  • Permission changes.

Deploying a CASB solution takes care of both external and internal threats by monitoring access to information within the cloud rather than just at the network perimeter.

Protection against data leakage and data loss

Data leakage and loss is one of the main concerns when it comes to cloud security. A robust CASB is able to critically enforce restrictions on user activities to nullify any chance of malicious intent from attackers. These restrictions can block access to devices based on location, time of access, and other factors. A CASB can be integrated with a DLP solution if the enterprise already has one in place. In this case, a CASB will work to enforce the preexisting configured DLP policies and enforce them in cloud services.

Prevention of account takeovers

Account takeovers happen when an unauthorized user gains access and control over an authorized user account. Account takeovers could be due to weak authentication credentials, phishing attacks, or any other process with malicious intent. Account takeovers can be particularly hard to identify in the cloud if monitoring tools offer no visibility into user behaviors. A CASB is able to solve this issue by monitoring for suspicious activity around the clock.

CASBs for cloud security

The use of cloud infrastructure services in the post-pandemic world is being accelerated by shifting work environments and dynamic network access. This recent rise in cloud infrastructure use has increased the need for cloud security solutions. Implementing CASB solutions can help organizations ensure visibility, control, and protection of enterprise data stored on the cloud.

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