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CASB 2.0: Cloud Security, Visibility and Control

Get cloud security like you’ve never experienced before with CASB 2.0

CASB 2.0 is the natural evolution of cloud security technology that was born as the cloud revolution has aged into common practice. No longer is a cloud-enabled workforce a key differentiator, nor does it provide significant strategic advantage. Companies and organizations for all types and sizes have made the switch to cloud computing, and those that haven’t are now more the outlier. But the big question now is: how are cloud applications being secured?

This question was answered with the CASB. What is CASB? It’s a term coined by Gartner, and abbreviated from cloud access security broker. The term is used to describe the cybersecurity industry segment of tools designed to secure access to information stored in cloud applications. Initially, CASB vendors provided solutions that rely heavily on network security fundamentals like firewalls, proxies, and web gateways.

But, as more and more data storage and access traffic is routed through cloud applications, the perimeter has been declared all but dead. Open access to data from any device, in any location requires a different kind of solution that doesn’t just secure cloud access “at the border”, but monitors and controls activity within cloud applications themselves to support zero trust security models. Thus, CASB 2.0 was introduced to the market…

The CASB API Revolution

CASB 2.0 API architecture

After a few years of trying to fit network security technology into cloud security models, someone had the bright idea to use APIs in their CASB architecture. And CASB 2.0 was born.

Using API vs proxy technology to secure cloud applications is a natural choice for CASB 2.0. It uses the native integrations protocols to secure access to data stored within the application, as well to control activity. Rather than placing an appliance between employees and the files they are trying to access, API-based CASB 2.0 provides a fast, seamless, and secure experience for end users and IT teams alike.

Most organizations already have a firewall or a secure web gateway (SWG). Legacy CASBs that use proxies (either forward, reverse, or “agentless”) simply duplicate this layer in your cybersecurity infrastructure. CASB 2.0 uses APIs to protect your data stored in the cloud, rather than your perimeter. In this way, CASB 2.0 is an additive security layer, rather than a duplicative one. They will work very well with existing security tools, including firewalls, SWG, MTAs, etc. to help security teams gain an increased level of visibility and control over what is going on within their cloud applications.

CASB 2.0 builds deep, 1-to-1 API connections between the CASB platform and the cloud application that needs to be secured. If your organization uses G Suite, Office 365, Slack, and Dropbox, for example (like many do) you would, in effect, have a Microsoft CASB, a Google CASB, a Slack CASB, and a Dropbox CASB. All wrapped up into one, easy to use and manage platform!

[FREE CHECKLIST] Make Sure Your Cloud Application Security Settings Are Properly Configured. Get Your Checklist Here >>

What Does CASB 2.0 Solve?

Using a CASB solves a number of business challenges. CASB 2.0 that uses an application’s native APIs to secure, monitor, and control activity within it takes it a step further. Advanced protection and control features that CASB 2.0 provides includes:

Discover & Control Shadow Cloud IT

Shadow IT has long been the crux of cybersecurity controls. The emergence of cloud-based SaaS applications has only made it more of an issue. OAuth applications, in particular, can cause huge problems for security teams and organizations. CASB 2.0 shines a light on OAuth shadow cloud IT. And it provides advanced controls over it, including ranked risk factors, automatic unsanctioning, deletion, etc.

Advanced Data Loss Prevention

Data loss prevention is a broad topic, complicated further by the amount of data being stored and accessed in the cloud. Inappropriate sharing settings, employee downloads, and more are issues that IT and SecOps teams can gain control of in the cloud with CASB 2.0.

Shut Down Account Takeovers

Account takeovers are a growing concern for organizations. It is easier for criminals to gain access to even more information when they are able to takeover cloud application accounts. CASB 2.0 provides granular visibility and control over activity taking place within cloud applications. This means that, if an account takeover gets past your perimeter and is successful, your CASB security will be able to detect anomalous behavior, such as external sharing attempts, mass downloads, sending phishing emails from internal accounts, etc. The platform can then take remediation actions when it detects such behavior, including shutting out the account entirely and forcing a password reset.

Advanced Malware & Phishing Protection

Malware and phishing schemes have evolved in the cloud, and are now including lateral phishing tactics that cannot be detected by traditional MTAs or SWGs. Lateral phishing starts with an account takeover, sending phishing emails from within the organization to others in order to gain access to more information. Like account takeovers, this type of attack is notoriously difficult to detect and stop without a CASB solution in place.

The world of doing business has evolved dramatically in a very short amount of time. Cloud computing has driven so much innovation and improvement during that time, and has been a boon for businesses and organizations of all types and sizes. Unfortunately, many organizations have not taken the time to understand the nuances of securing information in the cloud in the same way they have network security.

The result is a lingering myth that network security technology is sufficient to secure cloud applications. Teams that are taking their cybersecurity infrastructure seriously are using CASB 2.0 technology to secure the data stored in their company’s cloud applications.

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8 Business Challenges A CASB Solves

Using a CASB solves these critical data security business challenges

The cloud access security broker (also referred to as a CASB) is now an essential piece of any organization’s cybersecurity infrastructure. Businesses using cloud applications for productivity, collaboration, and storage are challenged by the unique security requirements of operating in the cloud. Using a CASB solves many of these challenges by providing unmatched security, visibility, and control over access to and behavior within popular cloud applications.

What is a CASB? It is a technology, often in the form of a platform, used to protect data stored in cloud applications, such as Google G Suite, Microsoft Office 365, Dropbox, Slack, etc. CASB architecture can be built in two basic ways. A CASB can use APIs or it can use an agent, proxy, or extension. API vs. proxy CASB architecture has important differences, each with their own advantages and disadvantages.

Gartner coined the term to describe the industry of CASB vendors that has developed over the past several years to solve the unique security issues that businesses and other organizations experience when they move to cloud computing from traditional, on-premises software. Here, we’ll explore eight of the most common business challenges that a CASB solves, why these challenges are unique and important to cloud computing, and how a CASB is able to help.

Governing Access

Secure cloud access is the first and most important defense to protecting data stored in cloud applications. The development of API-based CASB technology now allows CASB vendors to build more broad governing controls. Detecting account takeovers, monitoring how data is shared and used, and controlling shadow cloud IT are all benefits that using a CASB provides to IT teams.

1. Restrict Unauthorized Access

Of course, restricting access to information stored in the cloud is the first data security concern of any business. Many IT leaders mistakenly believe that their firewall is sufficient to secure data stored in the cloud. But the cloud doesn’t exist on your network, and employees aren’t always accessing the information from within the network. They’re taking their laptops and devices home, to the coffee shop or shared workspace, and while traveling.

The point of the cloud is to allow access to information from any device, in any location. The challenge for IT and security teams is to only allow that type of freedom to authorized users. A CASB solves this challenge by securing and monitoring access to information within the cloud, not just at the perimeter.

2. Identify Account Takeovers

Account takeovers are when an unauthorized user gains access to an authorized account. This happens in a number of ways in cloud computing. It could have been due to weak password and authentication controls, a phishing attack, or through a malicious OAuth application. However access is gained, identifying when an account takeover has occurred is notoriously tricky, particularly in the cloud. This is because, without the right type of monitoring tools in place, admins have no visibility into behaviors that are taking place within the application. Once the attack has crossed or circumvented the secure network perimeter, there’s no “hall monitor” watching what’s going on.

Using a CASB solves this issue because it monitors for suspicious login and activity behavior 24/7. If a potential issue is detected, a CASB can automatically take action to revoke access from the suspected account. The speed at which access is revoked largely depends on the CASB architecture.

[FREE] Are Your Cloud Apps Secure? Download Your Step-by-Step Cloud App Security Checklist for G Suite & Office 365 Here >>

3. Uncover Shadow Cloud IT

Shadow IT has been a business challenge for decades. The newer evolution is shadow cloud IT. Employees are using more cloud applications than ever before, and cloud apps are quickly overtaking the use of unsanctioned software and web applications.

The main problem with unsanctioned cloud (or SaaS) apps centers around the use of OAuth. Once an employee activates a cloud app using their work credentials, that application is granted specific permissions based on the app developer’s specifications.

There are two main issues with this. First, the application developer may not have malicious intent, but there could be security gaps within the architecture of the app. This application’s security gaps are now passed on to your organization. If their app is attacked, hackers can gain access to customer information, and customer cloud environments that are connected through OAuth.

The second issue with shadow cloud IT is that there are malicious apps out there. Knowing how powerful OAuth access can be, criminals develop applications with the intent of getting people to provide OAuth permissions. For example, they can create an application that requires read, write, and send permissions for the user’s email. Once granted access, the application can use those permissions to send phishing emails to others in the organization. These phishing emails will usually not be flagged by traditional MTA.

CASBs detect risky and unsanctioned applications that have been granted OAuth permissions and can be configured to revoke access, unsanction, delete, or warn the user. Using a CASB, admins can easily see and control the shadow cloud IT connected to their organization’s environment.

Securing Data

CASB security is the only way to protect data stored in cloud applications, such as Google G Suite, Microsoft Office 365, Dropbox, Slack, etc. This is because data stored and accessed in the cloud does not live within your perimeter—nor is it always accessed from inside your perimeter. Three business challenges that a CASB solves in terms of data security include data loss prevention, providing data access controls, and auditing risky (and unauthorized) behavior.

4. Cloud Data Loss Prevention

Data loss prevention is a hot (and important) topic. There are many different types of data, and data loss prevention methods, that should be used to protect company data. When it comes to operating in the cloud, there are a few ways that data can be lost. If you’re using a reputable cloud service provider to store your data, such as Google or Microsoft, you can rest easy that the underlying storage infrastructure is secure and backed up.

But securing the service side of any of these companies cloud apps is your responsibility. Both provide robust tools and features to help you do that, but you need to make sure they are properly configured and sufficient for your organization’s needs.

[FREE] Are Your Cloud Apps Secure? Download Your Step-by-Step Cloud App Security Checklist for G Suite & Office 365 Here >>

A 3rd party CASB is going to be an extremely helpful component of your data loss prevention tech stack for a couple of reasons. It will provide a central “command center” for cloud activity, rather than requiring staff to monitor behaviors and alerts in multiple, disparate systems. It also provides a redundant, additive layer of security to detect risks that might not get picked up by native app security functions.

5. Internal & External Data Access Controls

The core tenant of modern data security is zero trust security. Zero trust security is exactly what is sounds like: trust no one, no matter if access is internal or external. As discussed earlier in this article, cloud app account takeovers are on the rise, can come from a number of different types of breaches, and are notoriously difficult to detect without the right kind of CASB solution.

Using a CASB enforces zero trust security architecture in the cloud, because CASB technology monitors behavior within cloud applications, not just access to it at the perimeter. Your information security team needs to be able to see what is going on within cloud applications, including: who is accessing what information, who is sending and sharing what type of information, what cloud apps are connected via OAuth, and more. A CASB solves this challenge by providing full visibility and control over these types of behaviors, while automating remediation actions.

6. Record An Audit Trail Of Risky Behavior

Being able to monitor and report on risky actions and behaviors within an organization’s cloud applications provides a number of benefits, both short term and over time. It provides insights into how employees are accessing and using information in the cloud to inform better security controls (such as adjusting DLP rules and policies). It can also help inform when cybersecurity training is needed, and what areas to focus on to improve employee behavior and mitigate the human error element.

Most organizations, especially smaller teams with limited cybersecurity resources, are able to obtain and use this kind of information. It can be extremely time-consuming, if not downright impossible, to do. A CASB solves this challenge by, first actually being able to create this kind of data. Second, some CASBs also provide the capability to schedule regular audits and reports, so the data collection, formatting, and distribution happens automatically. Then, it’s up to the team and the organization as a whole to decide what to do with it to improve their security posture.

Protecting Against Cloud Threats

Phishing and malware threats are nothing new. But how they are deployed in the cloud can be a bit different. Protecting your organization’s data stored in the cloud must include cloud-specific phishing and malware protections that can detect a litany of new threat vectors. It also requires 24/7 monitoring and remediation of cloud risks, even while your security team focuses on more pressing issues… and while they sleep!

7. Cloud Phishing & Malware Threats

Increasingly, hackers are using a gaping vulnerability in cloud app security to deploy cloud phishing and malware attacks. How these attacks usually work is that a criminal will place a phishing link in a Google Doc or a Word file. They will then share that file or send a link to it to people in an organization, hoping that someone will open the file and click on the link within it. Once they are able to trick even one person into clicking on the link, they are able to wreak all kinds of havoc on an organization. Often, it results in the hacker gaining access to the user’s account, allowing them to send phishing links to others in the organization directly from the internal email to try to gain access to higher-level accounts with access to more sensitive information.

The reason this approach is proving effective is that Google and Microsoft phishing filters are set to identify their own links as safe. So, when a sharing link is sent via email, phishing filters will not flag it. Most traditional MTAs won’t flag them either, as everyone assumes a link coming from Google or Microsoft is safe. And, in reality, it is. It’s not until someone clicks on the link within the document that the malware is activated.

Using a CASB solves the challenge of protecting your organization against this type of attack. Because, again, a CASB is monitoring for risks within the cloud, not just at the perimeter. So, it can detect suspicious links within a shared document and in emails that are sent internally within an organization. A CASB trusts no one—no matter who or where they are.

8. Continuously Monitor for New Cloud Risks

A crucial cloud security challenge is that most IT and/or security teams don’t work 24/7. Larger organizations may have big teams that work around the clock, but the vast majority do not. So, they can’t have a physical human being monitoring for cloud risks and taking action any time something comes up. IT leaders need a solution that will help manage the various risks, suspicious activity, and actions that need to be taken so they (and their employees) can sleep at night!

[FREE] Are Your Cloud Apps Secure? Download Your Step-by-Step Cloud App Security Checklist for G Suite & Office 365 Here >>

A CASB does this for organizations of all sizes. An API-based CASB, for example, can be deployed in a matter of minutes or hours (depending on the size and type of data being stored) and is very cost effective compared to agent and proxy-based CASB solutions. And certainly more effective and affordable than next-gen firewalls that simply do not provide the level of visibility and control that a CASB does.

Businesses that operate in the cloud need to ensure that data stored, access, and shared within cloud based applications are secure. Data breaches and account takeovers are common not just among Fortune 500 giants, but mid-sized organizations, education institutions, government agencies, and nonprofits. The media and the cloud security industry tends to ignore the significance of the threat to these types of organizations, so IT and security leaders within them sometimes feel a false sense of security. But cyber criminals are taking note. Attacks against public institutions, SMBs and nonprofits are on the rise.

Properly configuring your organization’s cloud application security settings should be your first step to protecting your organization, staff, customers, and other stakeholders. Once that is done, consider using a CASB to monitor and control your cloud environment for further, 24/7 cloud security.

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5 Cloud Application Security Best Practices

Best practices for securing data stored in your team’s cloud applications

Just about every organization uses cloud applications in daily operations. Data backup, communications, file storage, and much more is now being managed in the cloud. The biggest (and most troubling) misperception about cloud computing security is that perimeter-based technology works for securing cloud applications. Improve your cloud security operations with these five cloud application security best practices.

Learn More: What is cloud application security? >>

1. Don’t Ignore Due Diligence in Cloud App Selection & Sanctioning

SaaS infrastructure security is something that most of us take for granted. We’re so used to doing business in the cloud, that we connect to tools and applications without thinking twice about potential security consequences. This cavalier approach to technology is causing information security teams a ton of grief. It’s also given rise to the term “Shadow IT”, which has expanded significantly with the use of unsanctioned, or “shadow”, cloud IT.

Every time a new application and/or platform is connected to your company’s cloud environment, a new risk is exposed. The 2018 “Data Risk in the Third-Party Ecosystem” study by Ponemon Institute reported that 59% of companies surveyed experienced a data breach caused by a vendor or third party. While SaaS vendors only make up a portion of that number, it’s a compelling and troubling trend.

As company vendor and third party relationships expand and become more complex, it is critical for information security teams to manage what vendors are being granted access to their IT ecosystem. When it comes to SaaS applications hosted and accessed in the cloud, this task is impossible without the right set of cloud security tools.

But having the right cloud monitoring tools in place is just part of the battle. Information security needs to be involved in helping teams do their due diligence in selecting vendors. Here are six steps to safe SaaS app selection:

1. Know the source: Is the app offered by a reputable developer? Is that developer active in completing updates and patches?
2. Limit excessive permissions: What types of permissions is the app requesting, and does it really need those permissions for its intended purpose?
3. Be mindful of the app’s name: Camouflage is just about the oldest trick in the book. Criminals often create look-alike and sound-alike apps to trick people into downloading them.
4. In-app purchases: Does the app require credit card information for in-app purchases? Does it need to for its intended purpose?
5. Authentication & Encryption: How does the app handle authentication? What encryption methods are used for storing and accessing data? (This is likely something your team will have to help your colleagues out with)
6. Read Reviews! Always read through the app’s reviews to understand what other people have experienced. Be wary of overly complimentary reviews, which could be faked.

[FREE] Cloud Application Security Checklist. Get It Here >>

2. Manage Access to Cloud Applications & User Behavior

Setting up and properly configuring Multi-Factor Authentication (MFA) and Single Sign On (SSO) is access management 101. If you don’t have these set up for your organization’s cloud applications, do it now. Seriously.

You’ll also want to make sure that you set up user groups within your main applications (typically Google G Suite and/or Microsoft Office 365) to manage who can access what. For example, not everyone in the organization needs access to business financial data or HR information. Segmenting information and only allowing access by specific users who need access to them significantly improves your data security posture.

But there is more that can be done. Account takeovers are on the rise, and can lead to all kinds of problems. Putting a block on IP address locations for logins, for example, go a long way in significantly reducing your risk of an account takeover. Monitoring for a spike in the number of failed login attempts will also help your team detect when your environment is currently under attack, so steps can be made to fortify account access. Perhaps a password change is in order. Or a simple communication to the organization to be hyper-vigilant for phishing emails can go a long way to thwarting attacks.

Monitoring for abnormal user behavior is another way to detect if an account takeover is occuring. These behaviors could include phishing emails being sent from an internal account, bulk downloading of files, and importing of files containing malware links to your shared drives.

We hate to think about it, but internal threats are also something that teams need to monitor for. Data breaches that involve disgruntled or otherwise compromised employees happen, and they are just as harmful (if not moreso) than one created externally. Customer and/or employee information, trade secrets, and financial data are all assets that an employee may decide to use for their own gain.

By monitoring user behavior, security teams can detect if information is potentially being improperly handled by internal users, as well as external attacks.

3. Cloud Phishing & Malware Threat Protection

Email is still the #1 threat vector. Protecting email, whether they are hosted in the cloud like Gmail or otherwise, should be a top concern for security teams. Cloud malware threat protection works a little differently than traditional perimeter-based security technology, like proxies and gateways. Criminals are increasingly finding ways to circumvent perimeter-based security for organizations that use cloud-based email platforms.

We’re increasingly finding that native email filters provided by Google and Microsoft are also susceptible to a significant vulnerability. These filters are set to automatically “whitelist” links coming from their own domain. Now, there are more incidents where hackers upload a file containing a malicious link to Google Drive or SharePoint, and then send the file link in an email.

Adding a cloud-specific protective layer to your cloud-based email apps is now as critical to a secure infrastructure as traditional email filters.

4. Automate & Remediate Cloud Application Security Risks

Information security teams are notoriously under-staffed and under-funded, particularly in small to mid-sized organizations. Cybersecurity awareness in the executive suite is certainly improving, but we still have a long way to go. Using tools that can help small, overwhelmed teams operate more efficiently is key.

A Cloud Access Security Broker (CASB) helps automate cloud app security risk detection and remediation 24/7. It makes each of these cloud application security best practices actually happen, day in and day out, for security teams.

Using a CASB, you can set up data loss prevention rules and policies that will automatically detect abnormal behavior, improper use of information, malware and phishing threats, shadow cloud IT, and more. The technology will then take the remediation action that you select to quarantine, delete, revoke access, etc. automatically, making your job much easier.

See CASB In Action! Click Here For A Quick Demo On-Demand >>

5. Audit & Optimize

All good cybersecurity teams consistently audit and optimize their security infrastructure and posture. Depending on the size and complexity of your data environment, this may happen on a weekly, monthly, or quarterly basis. Whatever your time scale is, make sure you are auditing your cloud security often enough, and consistently.

This is another area where CASBs can help. Using a CASB, you can set up audit reports that you would like it to run on a periodic basis. This way, you get the reports you need sent directly to you, rather than needing to set up the same report over and over again.

An audit will show you where new vulnerabilities have opened up, if you have unsanctioned apps sneaking back into your environment, etc. Keeping an eye on these risks and trends overtime will help you optimize how you’ve set up your rules and policies, making your CASB work even better for you over time.

There is no perimeter in the world of cloud computing. Using technology meant for defending a perimeter to secure cloud applications is ineffective, and creates unnecessary vulnerabilities. Following these cloud application security best practices, paired with the right kind of technology, will close the vulnerability gap while providing your security team with the visibility and control they need to do their jobs effectively in the cloud.

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CASBs: Is It Time To Remove The “Broker” From Cloud Access Security Broker?

How are you securing your organization’s data in cloud applications?

Cloud Access Security Brokers are now an integral part of any organization’s IT security infrastructure. IT leaders are realizing just how important cloud security is. As more organizations move to the cloud and more employees rely on cloud-based SaaS applications, such as G Suite and Office 365, the need to secure data in the cloud is greater than ever.

IT leaders are much more aware of what cloud access security brokers (CASBs) are than they were just a couple of years ago. But, in the short time since the term was coined, there have been some changes in available technology that beg the question: Is it time to remove the “broker” from cloud access security broker?

What is a Broker?

The dictionary definition of a broker is one who acts as an intermediary, this is how you can think of a “broker” in the cybersecurity world.

A broker routes traffic from inside a network to the Internet (and vice versa), the extent to which it is able to filter and control this traffic depends on the type of broker. In the early days of cloud security, all the available technology was built using some sort of broker. This includes gateways, proxies, and agents—all of which are lumped into the generic term “broker”.

What is a Cloud Access Security Broker?

So, what is a CASB? CASBs are enforcement points between a customer and a cloud service vendor. The term was coined by Gartner in 2014 to help describe the relatively new industry of cloud security vendors. The first CASB Gartner Magic Quadrant was published in 2017.

At the time, most CASB vendors were still using a broker-type appliance to secure access to cloud applications. These types of solutions work like a firewall; they take information that is trying to gain access to a company’s internal network from the Internet, and filter it through policy enforcements. If the information is flagged by the firewall or CASB, access is rejected. In fact, the traditional CASB is so much like a firewall that it usually duplicates the security controls most companies already have in place, which increases cost and complexity.

Most CASB solutions claiming to use a “broker”, are simply using an agent or proxy. Some use browser extensions and call their product “agentless”. While they’re not using an agent specifically, they are still using a broker.

Why Do CASBs Need a Broker?

CASBs - No Agents No Proxies BrokerlessCASBs don’t need a broker per se. It’s a term that was created before API cloud security technology entered the market space, but it is important to know that there are distinct differences between an API vs. proxy CASB.

Proxy-based CASBs (or any CASB that uses a type of “broker”) put a checkpoint between the user and the cloud application to check and verify before granting access to the app. The biggest benefit is that it can take security action in real-time, and some can stop an outgoing email that contains sensitive information, based on the organization’s data loss prevention policies, even after it’s been sent.

The disadvantages are that broker-based CASBs can be cumbersome to set up and deploy,  they significantly reduce network speed and slow down user productivity, and they don’t have the ability to monitor the behavior within a cloud app. They simply filter information going in and out of the cloud app within the organization’s network. Broker CASB security can also be broken merely by cloud application updates.

API-based CASBs don’t actually use a broker at all. While these types of platforms still fall under the Cloud Access Security Broker industry category, they don’t really fit the literal term. They’re more like Cloud Application Security Platforms (CASP) because they build deep, one-to-one integrations with cloud apps using native APIs. This is important because API CASBs are able to function almost like a native feature of the application it secures.

The main benefit of API-based CASB architecture is that it can be up and running (and securing) the data in your cloud applications in mere minutes. They also don’t place any sort of filter between user access and the application, so it doesn’t slow down network speed and it won’t impact end-user experience. API CASBs can monitor and control behavior within cloud applications at a much deeper level, ensuring that your actual information and data are protected, instead of just the perimeter.

The disadvantages of an API-based CASB are that there can be a split-second delay in some security functionalities. They also cannot stop outgoing emails after they are sent like a broker CASB can. Because, again, there is no appliance between the application and user access. Both of these disadvantages; however, are usually covered by a company’s firewall and/or secure gateway that are already installed.

Perhaps it’s merely a case of semantics. But the distinctions in how CASB solutions work is important for anyone looking to secure company data that is stored, accessed, and shared in the cloud. More expensive and more complicated does not mean more secure. Your choice in cloud application security should rely on more than just a magic quadrant, it must take into account your organization’s needs and the IT security infrastructure that you already have in place.

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Cloud Computing Security: Secure Your Data, Not Just Your Perimeter

Everything You Need to Know About Cloud Computing Security

Cloud computing security is the only way to keep your data stored safely in the cloud. Cybersecurity threats are constantly evolving and becoming more common. Many security professionals mistakenly believe that their firewall or web filter is sufficient enough to secure information stored and shared in cloud applications. Or, worse yet, they believe the application service provider is responsible for securing their data.

Here, we’re going to take a look at what cloud computing is and why securing it is different from traditional network security.

Cloud Computing Security - No PerimeterWhat Is Cloud Computing?

Dictionary.com defines cloud computing as:

“The practice of using a network of remote servers hosted on the Internet to store, manage, and process data, rather than a local server or a personal computer.”

Cloud computing allows organizations to store their business data in a cloud-based platform, rather than on a local or on-premise server. Switching to cloud computing alleviates the need for costly hardware and outsources server maintenance and security to some of the world’s most secure providers, such as Google, AWS, etc.

Cloud computing also improves business outcomes through increased productivity and collaboration. Employees, students, contractors, and other users can easily access files at any time, from anywhere, on any device. Cloud computing has been a driving force behind today’s untethered global workforce. It allows people to work, communicate, and collaborate from almost anywhere, eliminating the requirement for hiring and/or working locally.

The public cloud allows business owners to forgo heavy investments in hardware or software that break and become outdated quickly. Instead, they pay a subscription to their cloud provider, usually on a monthly or annual basis.

To further understand cloud computing, let’s delve into the different types below.

Public Cloud / SaaS

The most popular form of cloud computing is the public cloud, this is where most SaaS (software as a service) applications are hosted. The public cloud is a software distribution model that hosts the applications and makes them accessible to customers online through a web browser. G Suite and Microsoft Office 365 are examples of commonly used SaaS applications. This form of cloud computing will generally give users a more extensive configuration, which helps them create and code their own environment.

Private Cloud

The private cloud is designed to be used by a single organization. The organization can build and manage the underlying cloud infrastructure, making the private cloud the best data center automation tool for administrators. All of the computing resources can be secluded and delivered through a secure and private network, rather than with clients, customers, or outside organizations.

Hybrid Cloud

The hybrid cloud, also referred to as the multi cloud, is a combination of both the private and public cloud. The hybird cloud allows users to create an environment where applications can be moved from the private cloud to the public cloud and vice versa. This then allows for data and workloads to be transfered from private to public clouds, giving users and business owners an extensive data deployment solution and therefore more flexibility.

How Is Cloud Computing Security Different?

While cloud computing is not inherently insecure, it does require a different security approach. This is particularly true for public and hybrid cloud infrastructures.

When moving to the cloud, IT managers will find that much of the visibility and control they used to have with on-premise network servers has been lost. Cloud computing security is unique mainly because there is no perimeter in the cloud, it is known as security without boundaries.

Bruce Sussman’s provocative SecureWorld article, Cybersecurity Perimeter Defense: Is the Concept Dead?, highlights this point particularly well. The article maintains that models designed for a static, enclosed environment are no longer relevant due to BYOD and cloud computing.

Sussman suggests that cloud computing requires a data-centric approach to cybersecurity, rather than a perimeter-centric approach. In other words, security professionals need to focus on the fundamental problem of keeping data safe, rather than simply stopping hackers, malware, etc. at the perimeter.

Data is valuable to hackers, but not all data is created equal. Organizations need to first categorize their types of data, then invest in strong defense tools to properly store and protect it. This security need gave rise to a segment of cybersecurity tools that have since been categorized as cloud access security brokers, or CASB.

What Is API Cloud Security?

Cloud Computing Security - API vs ProxyAPI cloud computing security is critical for teams using the public cloud and popular SaaS applications (think G Suite, Office 365, Slack, Dropbox, etc.). Third party vendors use APIs to build features that secure cloud applications in a way that works almost as an native function to application.

There are significant differences between an API and a proxy based CASB architecture. API-based security performs as though it is native to the application while proxies put a gateway between traffic and the application. Proxy-based security vendors may use a browser extension, agents, gateways, etc. as well as different terminology or tools.

At the end of the day, these tools work basically the same and they aren’t supported by most (if any) cloud applications. The fact that cloud service providers, including both Google and Microsoft, do not support or recommend the use of third party proxy-based cloud security solutions should not be taken lightly. This means that any time either company makes an update to their platform and/or infrastructure it could break the proxy’s settings, leaving your data vulnerable. Because API-based cloud computing security works with these applications’ native APIs, this issue does not occur.

Cybercriminals can circumvent proxy-based cloud security tools the same way they do firewalls and other perimeter-centric security. Proxy-based cloud security tools just duplicate the firewall you have set up in your network and place it in the cloud. API-based cloud security, on the other hand, adds a new layer of security to your stack that specifically monitors data and behavior in cloud applications. This provides IT managers with greater visibility and control over what data is being accessed by who, from where, and what is being done with it.

The cloud revolution isn’t coming, it’s here. Whether your organization has already made the move to the cloud or you’re planning one now, your IT and/or security team need to take the proper steps to ensure that the data stored, accessed, and shared in the cloud is secure.

ManagedMethods provides a complete, API-based cloud security solution to help protect your data and applications. Our solution works to prevent data breaches, malware and phishing threats, and account takeovers. Take control of your company’s information all in one easy-to-use, affordable platform.

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Microsoft Cloud Access Security CASB: Why You Need One Yesterday

Secure Your Sensitive Data In The Cloud With A Microsoft Cloud Access Security CASB

Previously, we looked at why you may need a Google cloud access security CASB solution to secure your team’s G Suite environment. Today, we will disucss how to secure cloud access in Microsoft for all you Office 365 fans out there.

A Brief History of CASB

So, what is CASB? As more companies make the move to cloud computing, vendors have quickly realized the unique security challenges that storing and accessing data in the cloud creates. These challenges gave rise to a new type of cybersecurity solution: the cloud access security broker, or CASB.

Cloud Access Security Broker is a term coined by Gartner and refers to the first-generation CASB use of proxies. Today, there are more advanced cloud security platforms that use the cloud application’s native APIs to monitor, control, and secure activity.

What Is Microsoft Cloud Access Security CASB?

What does all this CASB security talk mean for Microsoft users? If your organization uses Office 365 for Outlook, Word, Excel, etc. then you are using a cloud application! Using a Microsoft cloud access security CASB is every bit as important to securing your organization’s sensitive data as any other cloud-based SaaS application.

Third Party vs Microsoft Cloud Access Security

You may be thinking that you already have the cloud security you need through your Office 365 license. Whether you actually do or not depends on your license level and if your team uses any other cloud applications. The benefits of using a third party Microsoft cloud access security CASB include:

  1. If your company uses additional cloud applications, a third party solution will usually offer security and control over them as well as Office. Other popular SaaS applications that need to be secured include G Suite, Slack, Box, and Dropbox (to name a few).
  2. A third party offers effective redundancy. This is a system that’s intricately designed so that if a component in your system fails, there’s a backup process in place. This redundancy duplicates the system so that you can protect your organization’s information and you won’t lose data.
  3. Almost all third party cloud access security CASBs offer customizable data loss prevention controls to ensure your cloud environment is secure. Since employees are prone to accidentally signing up for potentially risky applications without looking into them, it’s important to have a system that can catch security threats and automatically remove them before any damage is done.

Microsoft’s Take On API vs Proxy Cloud Access Security

CASB architecture does matter, so it’s important to know the difference between API and proxy cloud access security. When it comes to APIs vs. proxies, you should also understand where Microsoft stands on the matter before you decide which is right for your company.

In 2018, Microsoft published a blog on third party network devices for Office 365. In this blog, Microsoft states that they do not recommend using proxy CASBs. The company does allow the use of proxy cloud access security, however they do not support any security or performance issues that may occur due to the CASB. The article also states that only third party vendors that use Microsoft’s public APIs will be notified of any important updates or changes.

If your company uses Microsoft Office 365, then you definitely need a Microsoft Cloud Access Security CASB. This will help to protect your system from a data breach or other potential threats that could harm your system. Claim your cloud security free trial today and start securing your company’s cloud data.

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Top 3 Google Cloud Security Issues Are Easily Managed

Google cloud security issues are like any other cybersecurity issue—the difference is how you manage them

Anywhere there is sensitive information involved there are security issues. Before the days of cloud computing, InfoSec managers were plagued by a variety of network intrusion and other cybersecurity issues. The transition to the cloud has only adjusted (or, in many cases, added to) data security issues. Google cloud security issues are really no different.

Cloud security issues fall into two categories: cloud provider security issues (for example, Google’s cloud infrastructure) and customer cloud security issues (i.e. securing your data stored in Google Shared Drives).

We’ve previously covered Google cloud infrastructure topics such as Google cloud security breachs and Google Apps security. Today, we’re going to look  into the customer side of Google cloud security issues and what you need to know about securing your G Suite and Google cloud monitoring.

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1. Google Cloud Data Breach

Google cloud security issues - MM data breach unshareOne of the main Google cloud security issues in your G Suite is the possibility of data breaches. A data breach can occur in your Google cloud apps in a number of ways. Statistically speaking, the most common cause of a cloud data breach is internal. Internal data breaches can be either accidental or malicious.

In most cases, a data breach will occur due to simple human error. An otherwise well-intentioned employee will accidentally set the sharing settings for a file public or email the wrong file to the wrong person. This is one of the reasons why data loss prevention for G Suite has become so popular.

Google cloud data breaches can also be malicious, either via an internal bad actor or an external source such as malware. One disgruntled employee can inflict a lot of damage on an organization. And we’re all well aware of the dangers of hackers, malware, spyware, and the like. A good data loss prevention tool will help protect your G Suite environment from both internally and externally caused data breaches.

Data loss prevention helps Google system admins maintain control over how files containing sensitive data are handled internally. Most systems will allow IT managers to set up data loss prevention rules and policies that will properly secure data that is being mishandled automatically.

2. G Suite Access Management

Closely related to the Google cloud security data breach issue is that of access management. System admins had far more control over who was able to access what information when all of the company’s information was stored on a local server. In G Suite, this capability can be more complicated (if not impossible, in some cases) without the right cloud access security broker (also referred to as CASB) in place.

A CASB helps IT teams secure cloud access to applications the company uses to create, share, and store information. Access management can mean managing which internal team members have access to what types of files and information. It can also mean managing access from external sources to the Google environment. Both interal and external sources need to be properly managed to mitigate Google cloud security issues in your G Suite environment.

3. Google Account Takeover

google cloud security issues - MM access management account takeover preventionPerhaps the most damaging, yet least understood, Google cloud security issue is that of an account takeover. Google account takeovers are particularly problematic because they are very difficult to detect. The built-in Google cloud infrastructure security is unlikely to detect an account takeover. This is because an account takeover looks exactly like a legitimate account login to Google security, because it’s usually done by using stolen (or purchased) login information.

Google has incorporated 2-Step Verification and suspicious login notification features that are particularly helpful. But if your haven’t set up these security settings for your organization, or if a criminal is able to breach these safeguards, there’s no stopping what they will do next without proper cloud application security in place.

It’s extremely important that your G Suite application security settings are properly configured, at minimum. You can layer on an extra level of account takeover security with a Google cloud access security CASB to help monitor for more detailed suspicious account activity. A good, API-based CASB vendor will monitor more than just login activity. It will also flag suspicious behavior within a cloud application like G Suite, such as mass file downloads and/or sharing, importing malicious files, and restricted access attempts.

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A Note On Google Cloud Security Issues

There are a few key points to keep in mind when it comes to Google cloud security issues.

  1. From a data infrastructure security standpoint, Google is second to none. Your data is far more secure being stored in Google cloud servers than on-site or at your local IT shop.
  2. Google cloud security issues are based in data loss prevention and access management solutions that you must put in place for your organization’s G Suite. If your security settings are not properly configured and you haven’t gained the visibility and control over G Suite that your IT team needs to do their job, there is nothing more Google can do to secure your data.
  3. Data security is everyone’s responsibility. No tool or consultant is going to be able to do what good, old-fashioned employee training and vigilance can do!

If you’re considering moving to G Suite, but are concerned about cloud security issues, be assured that Google cloud security issues really aren’t much different than network security issues. The big difference is how you manage them. Traditional network security solutions like firewalls and gateways can’t secure your cloud applications the way that a cloud application security solution will.

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How To Evaluate CASB Vendors & Find The Right One For You

There are several CASB vendors for you to choose from—selecting the right one is the difference between security and risk

For a long time, we heard the question: what is CASB? Now, it’s common knowledge that a cloud access security broker (CASB) (or cloud application security platform) is required to secure sensitive data stored and shared in the cloud. As the world has shifted to cloud computing, a variety of CASB vendors and other solutions have sprung into the marketplace to fill inherent cloud computing security gaps.

In short, a CASB helps IT and InfoSec managers secure, monitor and control activity in cloud applications, such as Google G Suite and Microsoft Office 365. Many believe that they are covered by Google and Microsoft for the data that they store in the cloud. But, while both have extremely robust data security infrastructure in place, they do not protect the cloud environment from seemingly approved activity. This means that if there is a malicious account take over, or a misconfiguration that makes sensitive data public, system administrators often have no idea that data is exposed. Not to mention what data specifically is exposed and how the breach occurred.

Cloud access security brokers provide an additional layer of security and control over cloud applications that are not provided in the application itself (or is provided at a much more expensive Enterprise level). CASB security provides organizations using cloud applications with malware threat protection, data loss prevention, and account monitoring and control capabilities that are specifically built for the cloud.

Types of CASB Vendors

API vs Proxy CASB vendors 2When you research CASB vendors, you will find that there are two different types: proxy-based CASBs and API-based CASBs. These refer to the technology used to build the CASB architecture.

Proxy-based CASBs use legacy network technology to place a proxy agent between traffic and your cloud applications. This proxy will check all incoming and/or outgoing traffic and limit access to the application. It is basically does the same work as your firewall or gateway, but duplicates it in the cloud.

API-based CASBs use the cloud applications’ native APIs to secure access and activity within the app. This technology provides better, more reliable cloud security that is supported by Google and Microsoft. And it does not slow down your networks or end users’ access to information in the cloud.

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What to look for in a CASB Vendor

All CASB vendors provide different functions, services, and more. It’s important to know what you and your information security need as you explore your CASB vendor options. Here is a high-level list of some of the most important features of a CASB solution:

Malware & Phishing Threat Protection

Email phishing is certainly the most well-known (and most common) external threat vector for information systems. But, it’s not the only one. One of the few disadvantages of cloud computing is the inherently porous nature of the public cloud. Criminals have also found ways to use file sharing, browser extensions, applications, and more to introduce malware and other threats to cloud environments.

A good CASB vendor will allow system admins to easily identify risks within your cloud environment from all of these threat vectors. It will also provide the function to quickly quarantine and/or delete those risks—either manually or automatically based on your custom system configurations.

Account Management & Security

User accounts can become compromised through external threats (such as those discussed in the section above), as well as through internal threats. Internal threats can be either accidental or malicious (such as in the case of a disgruntled employee). Typical indications of a compromised account include suspicious login locations and timing, massive sharing or downloading, and sharing or downloading particularly sensitive files.

You will want to find a CASB vendor that can detect this type of activity and alert the proper administrators immediately. Most CASBs will also provide the function to set up rules and policies that will automatically lock down an account that exhibits certain risky activities.

Data Security

Data security is critical for organizations today. Though big companies with millions of customer records get the most attention from data theft, it is happening more often in smaller companies and in the education market. These data breaches represent hundreds of millions of dollars in annual costs, not to mention the toll of dealing with identity theft, ransom threats, and more.

Organizations are required by law to secure data from leaks and breaches. Your CASB vendor must have a robust data loss prevention engine built in. Data loss prevention in the cloud can be tricky due to the inherent open nature of cloud collaboration and computing. But with the right CASB technology to manage and control data policies, system admins can more easily secure sensitive information from accidental and malicious breaches.

Unsanctioned Cloud App Discovery

Your CASB vendor should provide system admins with visibility into what cloud applications are linked to employees’ Google or Microsoft accounts to prevent what is sometimes referred to as “shadow IT”.

Many SaaS cloud applications are inherently risky, due to security gaps built into them that criminals can leverage to infiltrate customer accounts. Some applications have been built by criminals with this very purpose in mind; once an unsuspecting user downloads the application and creates an account using their G Suite credentials, it opens up all kinds of Google permissions to these criminals.

A CASB vendor that has the ability to flag such risky applications is your best bet, as this type of threat can be particularly damaging. A good CASB platform will determine an applications’ risk profile using several methods: level and number of permissions granted, number of users who have sanctioned/unsanctioned the application, and machine learning through third party vendors that have assessed the app.

Impact on Network Performance

The impact on network performance goes back to the discussion around proxy versus API CASB vendors. A proxy-based CASB is going to slow your network down significantly. This is because proxys place a “man in the middle” of your cloud traffic, checking and scanning each request that goes through it. This type of solution is usually favored by highly regulated industries, such as healthcare and finance.

API CASB vendors provide the same level of security without slowing down your network performance. End users rarely realize that a cloud security solution is in place. This benefit allows employees, clients, etc. to access information stored in the cloud without delays.

Affordability & Ease of Use

It goes without saying that the CASB vendor you select will have to fit in your budget. It is important to keep in mind that there will be ancillary costs beyond the license agreement, for example it’s ease of use. When evaluating your CASB vendor options take into consideration:

  • Can your current team manage it or will you have to hire an additional resource?
  • How much time will it take to implement?
  • How many hours of training will be required for your employee/team to learn how to use it?
  • Is it reliable or will your system admin spend a ton of time validating accuracy?

These factors and more impact any new platform’s affordability. Before you select your CASB vendor, reach out to current and past customers (if possible) to understand the tool’s strengths, weaknesses, and potential hidden costs.

FERPA, COPPA, CSPC Certifications

K-12 and higher education institutions, in particular, must be sure to select a CASB vendor that has certified that they comply with federal (and, in some cases, state) student data privacy regulations. The Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act (FERPA) and The Children’s Online Privacy Protection Act (COPPA) are critical pieces of federal regulations that outline how children’s data is required to be handled and protected by all types of organizations.

Choosing a CASB vendor that is independently certified in these areas means that schools can feel confident in partnering with a vendor that takes student privacy seriously. It also means that the vendor’s technology has been thoroughly and rigorously vetted by an independent organization to ensure it meets the highest standards of security and compliance.

Customer Support

Any platform or vendor that you decide to partner with is going to create some questions and challenges. An often overlooked selection criteria is the vendor’s customer support reputation. Some CASB vendors will sell a license at a relatively low price—sometimes simply “throwing in” cloud security as part of a broader package. This type of deal can be tempting, but how good is a platform that nobody on your team understands how to use? Is your data really secure if your CASB isn’t set up properly or if there is a bug that doesn’t get fixed because you can’t get someone in customer support on the line?

Customer support often comes as an afterthought, this can prove to be a mortal mistake when it comes to selecting CASB vendors. Remember, when it comes to securing your sensitive regulated information in the cloud, it’s not just about checking a box and saying you tried to do it. It’s about securing the well-being and financial futures of your organization, employees, students, and customers.

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Why You Need CASB Security to Protect Data in the Cloud

CASB Security Isn’t A Luxury—It’s A Necessity

Cloud computing has exploded in business and education over the last decade. By next year, 83% of enterprise workloads will be in the cloud. That means everyone, from public schools and universities to health systems and corporate America, will be reaping the rewards of increased productivity and greater efficiency.

At the same time, 66% of IT professionals say security is their biggest concern when it comes to implementing cloud computing. How can you balance the benefits of cloud computing with the need for security? A Cloud Access Security Broker (CASB) is the key.

CASB Security: Where Did It Come From?

What is CASB? The term “Cloud Access Security Broker” was coined by Gartner around 2013. The major catalyst to the CASB emergence was the explosive growth of cloud computing and the enormous amount of data being produced. Cloud computing is expected to reach $411 billion by 2020. Artificial intelligence, machine learning, Internet of Things, Software-as-a-Service and Infrastructure-as-a-service are all contributing to this growth and becoming an integral part of IT strategies across industries.

IT departments quickly realized that keeping up with security was a challenge due to all the apps, devices, cloud providers and files their employees were using. Consider this: 2.5 quintillion bytes of data is being produced every day, that’s a one followed by 18 zeros!

CASB security provides information technology security teams with a platform that unifies security measures across the cloud, providing visibility and control that most cloud app admin consoles lack. Detecting threats, managing multiple data streams and enforcing security measures becomes as simple as implementing one CASB security platform.

What Types of CASB Security Are Available?

Proxy CASB Security

Proxy CASB security creates another firewall in front of cloud apps, therefore slowing down performance

In just a few short years, CASB architecture and solutions have come a long way. The original proxy-based CASB has gradually been replaced with Application Programming Interface (API) CASB technology. Which is best? Here’s brief summary of each.

Proxy-Based CASB Security

At the risk of sounding biased, proxy CASB are based on somewhat “old-school” technology. Within a CASB security solution, a proxy acts like a gateway, verifying users and devices as they try to access the cloud. The biggest advantage to a proxy CASB is that it can identify threats and take action in real time.

But there are critical disadvantages to this approach. Proxy CASBs cause significant network delays and only secure known users. For IT departments, that leaves a gap in data security, and for users it causes frustration when they can’t access their data quickly. Also, if you already use a Next-Gen Firewall (NGFW) or a secure gateway, installing a proxy-based CASB is basically just paying for duplicate functions.

Neither Microsoft nor Google support using a proxy CASB with their Office 365 and G Suite applications. They will not notify third-party vendors of changes in authentication methods, and they won’t guarantee that those changes won’t make your proxy completely ineffective. Google is also proposing security upgrades to their Chrome extension policy that would render so-called “agentless” CASBs useless.

API-Based CASB Security

API CASB Security Graphic

API CASB security integrates as a cloud app native for superior security

API-based CASB security uses the cloud application’s native APIs to provide direct, secure access to the cloud from any device, any where, any time without slowing down network performance.

API CASB provides visibility into user activity, making compliance, threat protection and data security easier and more efficient. IT teams can easily customize rules and policies based on individual, department, or other breakdown makes the most sense for your organization. Instead of duplicating functions, API CASB security provides an additive solution that integrates with your existing security architecture, such as Next-Gen Firewalls (NGFW) and secure gateways.

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Why Your Organization Needs CASB Security

We hear the question all the time: “I just invested $200K in a firewall. Why would I need cloud security?” Think of it this way: You have locks on the doors and windows of your home to keep intruders out, right? But what happens when a burglar gets inside? Many people get a home security system for this very reason. It lets you know if a breach has occurred, where the person got in from and, in some cases, what that person is doing in real time. It sets off alarms and alerts the proper authorities to help limit the impact of the break in.

That is what cloud security does for organizations that use cloud applications to create, collaborate, and store information in the cloud. A firewall will help protect your network perimeter, but cloud applications don’t exist within your network—they operate in the public cloud. So, your firewall and/or gateway works like the lock on the door to your house, it makes it more difficult for criminals to get in, and it deters the less motivated or sophisticated ones.

But, once a cybercriminal gets passed the perimeter they’ve gained access to your data. They use that access to download, copy, and share that information for their own malicious purposes. Without cloud security, your team may never know that a breach has occurred. Your organization’s intellectual property, financial data, and the personally identifiable information of customers and employees could be sold for profit without you ever knowing there’s a leak in your system.

With the right CASB security solution, alerts and alarms will start to go off when a criminal gets past your firewall perimeter and gains access to your cloud environment. A cloud security platform can perform a variety of tasks automatically to stop the data from being stolen. It can lock down a user account, revoke viewing and sharing access to certain types of documents, and more. Further, IT security managers get critical insights into exactly how the criminal was able to gain access to the environment, what files and folder were compromised, and more.

Cloud security isn’t a luxury—it’s a necessity. As more data is being created, stored, and shared in the cloud, your organization is becoming more and more vulnerable without a cloud security. Pouring more money into a more expensive firewall will not make that firewall more effective at securing what it cannot control.

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Do You Need A Google Cloud Access Security CASB?

Secure your organization’s G Suite with a Google cloud access security CASB

So, you’ve moved to Google G Suite. Congratulations! Like many system admins, you may be noticing that you suddenly don’t have the same visibility and control over who is sharing what information. With a Google cloud access security like CASB, you can have your cake and eat it too.

A Brief History of CASB

What is CASB? In the beginning there was network security, which is what most people think of when they think of cybersecurity. Network security evolved as the Internet became mainstream and cybercriminals first became a financial threat. Network secuirty includes perimeter-based technology, such as proxies, firewalls, and secure gateways to protect a network from external intrusion.

Network security is as important and relevant today as it’s ever been. But with all the shifts to cloud computing technology, vulnerabilities in network secuirty’s traditional perimeter-centric approach are being exposed. Thus, the CASB industry was born.

CASB, or Cloud Access Security Broker, is a term coined by Gartner to describe the host of solutions that secure cloud-based applications like Google G Suite, Office 365, and Slack. The first solutions in the market used traditional proxy agents and/or gateways to try to secure cloud applications. Then a new generation of CASBs came along that were made to work with the application’s native APIs—essentially making the tool a part of the cloud application. This breakthrough has led to a revolution in cloud security technology and functionality that makes cloud computing affordable, convenient, and secure for organizations of all sizes.

What Is Google Cloud Access Security CASB?

What does all this mean for Google? What exactly is Google cloud access security and why do you need a CASB?

First, you need to know what it means to secure cloud access as well as why it’s important. Cloud access security has to do with securing data stored in cloud applications, such as Google G Suite, from unauthorized access and use. For example, you don’t want Karen in HR accidentally setting files that contain employee social security numbers to “public” for anyone to view.

Data breaches are often the result of internal users either accidentally or maliciously exposing sensitive data, however most organizations will also be targeted by outside cybercriminals. Malware and phishing schemes are popular tools for hackers to gain access to information that can then be sold on the dark web. Traditional network security, such as firewalls, proxies, and gateways, can only protect the perimeter of your cloud applications. But they can not give system admins the visibility into the activity of a cloud application. Nor do they give them the control to remediate bad actions.

Google G Suite is a cloud application. Your Gmail, Google Drive, Shared Drives, Calendar and more are accessed on the web and are operated by Google using their remote data centers.

One thing you can be sure of is that Google takes data security very seriously. The ability to tap into their expert security infrastructure is just one of the many benefits of switching to cloud computing.

“G Suite has been built from the ground up to mitigate the unique threats for cloud systems. Google’s standards for performance and reliability apply to businesses, schools and government institutions around the world.

The technology, scale, and agility of our infrastructure bring unique security benefits to our customers. Our vast network of data centers are built with custom-designed servers, that run our own operating system for security and performance. Because Google controls its entire hardware stack, we are able to quickly respond to threats that may emerge.”

– G Suite Security FAQs

Google offers many ready-made security tools within the G Suite Admin console. While many are available to subscribers of all levels, the more advanced audit and control features are available through upgrades to Business or Enterprise licenses.

All G Suite licenses have access to the Admin console, where system admins can customize system configurations, access control, and more. G Suite also provides customers with security features such as 2-step verification, single sign-on, secure transport enforcement, and basic data loss prevention capabilities.

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3rd Party vs Google Cloud Access Security CASB

Despite all the great native G Suite security features, even Google recognizes that some customers need more advanced security and monitoring tools. That is why they partner with leaders in cybersecurity to help customers secure their critically sensitive data.

There are a few benefits to using a third party cloud security solution along with your Google cloud access security CASB:

  1. If your organization uses more cloud applications than just G Suite, you’ll need a tool that can provide security, visibility, and control over them as well. Popular SaaS applications such as Microsoft Office 365, Slack, Box, and more are subject to the same security vulnerabilities as G Suite. If anyone on your team is using them, they’ll need to be secured as well.
  2. A third party Google CASB can introduce effective redundancy into your cloud security tech stack for a reasonably low price. As much as we all love Google, we also know that it’s Admin console can become a bit bloated. Some third party Google cloud security solutions were developed with this in mind, creating value in simplicity while providing an additional layer of security.
  3. Third party cloud access security solutions that are also Google cloud partners have the added advantage of using Google’s powerful technology and innovations. This means that customers are gaining from companies that use Google technology in innovative ways, and often at a much lower cost than upgrading to G Suite Business or Enterprise editions.
  4. Unsanctioned cloud applications are the scourge of any IT and security manager. Employees sign up for all kinds of applications without thinking twice about the security consequences. Most third party cloud security vendors provide system admins with visibility into what applications have become part of their environment, the access level of those applications, and they can remove them from their system with a couple of clicks of the mouse.

The good news about Google cloud access security and other CASBs is that you don’t necessarily need to choose one or the other. When your organization switches to G Suite, you automatically gain the powerful data security architecture that comes with it. At a much lower rate than upgrading to Business or Enterprise, you can also gain easy visibility and control over your G Suite and other cloud application environments.

If your organization is a G Suite customer, you must have a Google Cloud Access Security CASB in place. Protecting the data stored in G Suite from data breaches is ultimately your responsibility. Without a cloud security solution in place, your organization could have far more vulnerabilities than you are aware of. Take a free risk assessment today and see what you’ve been missing.

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