Introduction

There is no doubt a majority of the businesses in Corporate America are making their way into the Cloud, on a permanent or at least a long-term basis.  One of the most widely used platforms in this regard is Microsoft Azure.  With the Cloud, you can access shared resources anytime and anywhere that you may be.

Although the connection from your device to Azure is secure, one more layer of security can be further added, which is known as the Microsoft Cloud App Security Broker, or CASB for short.

What Is the CASB (Cloud App Security Broker)?

Essentially, the CASB acts as an intermediary between your device and your Azure Cloud platform.  As described, it adds an extra boundary of security in order to mitigate your risk of becoming a victim of a Cyberattack.  It has been designed to work specifically with SaaS based applications.  The following are its major functionalities:

1. It keeps an inventory of all of the apps that are being used:

One of the most common problems today is that of Shadow Management.  This is where an employee will use non-authorized software in order to conduct their daily job tasks.  There are many reasons for doing this, but the main one is to make sure that deadlines are met on time.  But there are some vulnerabilities with this, such as:

  • Using apps whose source code has not been tested (especially when APIs are used);
  • Downloading an app that had a malicious payload installed into them;
  • Using an older version of an app that has not been updated with the latest patches and upgrades.

Depending upon how large your business is, some of these non-authorized apps could very easily go unnoticed by the IT Security team.  But by making use of the CASB, an inventory is kept of all the apps that have been downloaded and are being used.  It is updated in real time and can be queried in just a matter of seconds.  Thus, any non-authorized applications that are being used can be quickly terminated.

2. Only authorized apps can be used:

Once your IT Security team has approved the list of authorized apps that employees can use, the CASB will actually enforce it.  For example, it prevents and blocks the downloading of non-authorized apps.  Also, by making use of the Identity and Access Management (IAM) tools that are available in Azure, you can cut down on the number of identical passwords that are being used.  This technique can be viewed as a much more superior avenue to take rather than just using a third-party password manager.  The CASB can also alert you if there is an unusual spike in the access and usage of a particular app.

3. It prevents data leakage:

The information and data that your company uses can be deemed to be one of your most valuable assets.  Thus, another main concern is that of data leakage, whether it is intentional or not.  Very often, this is difficult to detect, and once it is discovered, it is too late to control the damage that has been done.  The CASB contains a database of where all of the files are stored, and which employees can access them.  It monitors all of this on a real time basis, so if there is any abnormal activity that is detected by the CASB, it will immediately cut off that connection, so there will be no issue of data leakage.

4. It makes use of AI and ML:

These are both acronyms for Artificial Intelligence and Machine Learning, respectively.  The Microsoft CASB makes use of both these tools in order to keep track of employee activity on a daily basis, 24 X 7 X 365.  It builds profiles of each and every employee, based upon their access and usage behaviors with regards to the apps.  With this kind of modeling technique, if there is any form of anomalous behavior detected even to the slightest extent, your IT Security team will be notified in just a matter of seconds.

5. Helps you to keep in compliance:

Data privacy has become a key issue today, and because of that, the enforcement of regulations such as the GDPR, CCPA, HIPAA, PCS-DSS has greatly increased.  This is a lot for any company to handle, but a CASB can help you to monitor the current status of the controls that you have in place, so that you can stay in compliance with these regulations.

Conclusions

Making use of a CASB is just one more step to make sure that your business is as well protected as it can be.  If you need help in deploying it for your Azure cloud platform, contact us today. The overall process of how the Microsoft CASB works is illustrated below:

(SOURCE:  1).

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