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All you need to know about cloud access security brokers

Oliver Noble

Oliver Noble


Jun 30, 2022


5 min read

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“Cloud access security broker” (CASB) doesn’t roll off the tongue, but it’s well worth your time getting to know it. In short, it’s an intermediary between the cloud and you. Imagine a security post at NASA. You come in and show your ID. The guard checks to see if you're on the list. You sign your name and are allowed inside. If the guard later observes you acting strangely, they’ll notify the authorities to come get you. It makes sense – nobody wants just anyone to be able to walk in and wander around freely, looking at top-secret information. When it comes to online data security, a CASB is the guard that helps protect your data.

What is a cloud access security broker?

A cloud access security broker is a piece of security software that works as an intermediary between cloud service providers and users, enforcing security policies and monitoring user activity. A CASB can be either on-premise or cloud based.

While very convenient, cloud services come with risks. Whether you're using IaaS, PaaS, or SaaS, weak spots in your security are inevitable. CASB software takes care of these risks. You can use it to cover both on-premises and cloud infrastructure.

A CASB consolidates all your security measures and applies them to every aspect of your business, covering all users on all devices.

What can CASB do:

The rise of ransomware and supply-chain attacks for businesses have been the key security issues of the last decade. Governments, companies, and even individuals have been looking for ways to boost their data security. One of these ways is by using cloud access security brokers.

Depending on the needs of the business, a variety of security measures are relevant when you choose a CASB. Some measures may concern the login process (authentication), while others may focus on data access (authorization, access control) or security (encryption, ransomware protection).

Most of what CASBs do fall into one of three categories: control data access, protect your digital assets from malware, and guard your network. While cloud providers mainly work as digital buckets for data storage with some access control options, security brokers take data security and access control to another level. Not to mention that CASB clients can even have a say over cloud security and prevent data loss by controlling the traffic to and from their cloud storage.

Why do you need a CASB?

Remote work has been growing steadily over the past few years, but since 2020 it may have become the new norm. That, combined with employees’ use of personal devices for work, means that businesses both large and small must track and control how their employees use cloud services.

You might think that ditching cloud services altogether would solve all such security problems. You’d technically be right. But the impact on your employees’ productivity combined with the additional costs that come with such a shift in the workflow may be just as damaging to your business.

Furthermore, if you use cloud computing to deliver a service to your clients, a CASB is a must. It will cover access control, data management, legal compliance, and cyberattack prevention. While it’s by no means an all-in-one security solution, it should be a part of your security strategy.

Is NordLocker a CASB?

NordLocker is not a cloud access security broker, but here’s the thing. NordLocker already provides all the security and data management you’ll need. In other words, you don’t need a CASB as a NordLocker Business client.

How does CASB work?

We mentioned this a little bit above, but it’s worth taking a better look at the advantages of CASB. A cloud access security broker makes sure that all communication between a device and the cloud adheres to the rules you’ve established. CASB software works on four fronts:

It provides visibility

You can see who is trying to access the cloud, where they’re from, what device they are using, and what they are trying to do. In contrast to mainstream cloud providers where your options are often limited, brokers allow you to control access on a service-by-service basis, set instructions based on risk, and oversee multiple different cloud applications at the same time. With a clear understanding of how your customers or employees use different cloud applications, you’ll be able to identify and mitigate the risks.

In addition, a CASB can help you save on cloud storage and give you a better view of your business. With a CASB providing visibility over your cloud usage, you can evaluate your storage needs clearly and eliminate the redundant services.

It secures your data

A CASB secures your data and minimizes the chance of a data leak by introducing an additional layer of encryption to your data. On top of that, a CASB adds extra safety measures to the data you share externally or internally between different departments. Depending on the type of data you store, the policy for sharing it might significantly differ. A CASB allows you to set rules, grant and revoke access, and oversee the transfer of information.

But encryption is only part of data loss prevention. A CASB can scan, identify, and stop malicious attacks before they cause damage.

It helps you adhere to laws and regulations

Businesses must comply with regulations when it comes to people’s personal data no matter what those regulations may require. The problem is that in the digital age, new regulations come into effect every year. As a result, if you want to keep your customers and avoid fines, you often must follow everyone else’s rules no matter your true location. With a CASB, compliance is much easier.

Data privacy compliance is often about the data privacy of individuals and enterprises – something that CASB providers already specialize in. A CASB also allows you to follow regulations and automatically change the way data is stored, accessed, and shared when data sovereignty laws change.

It keeps malware at bay

While we already mentioned malware, it’s worth looking at how a CASB helps protect you. The benefit here is that your data is protected from outside threats as well as inside ones. One of your employees might intentionally try to upload malware, or their account could get hacked. Either way, a CASB will detect malware or unauthorized access and respond accordingly – block an account or remove malicious software.

When the damage ransomware causes globally exceeds billions of dollars every year, companies cannot downplay the importance of adequate security. While cybersecurity training is a big step to help your employees recognize digital threats, only all-round and automatic security measures such as what CASB provides can guarantee the security of your data.

Choosing a CASB provider

Choosing a reliable CASB provider is a difficult task, but it’s time worth spending. Talk to different vendors, compare their features and prices, and most importantly, find out how their CASB software will work with your existing security measures, like firewalls and secure gateways. You don’t want to redo everything from scratch, so take your time and try a few different providers.

Here’s something you may consider:

  • What are the problems you want a CASB to solve?
  • What must CASB do to solve these problems?
  • Will you have the options to upgrade or downgrade as your company’s needs change?

While large corporations that use multiple cloud systems to carry out their business processes will undoubtedly benefit from a CASB, small business owners may be hesitant. It’s a reasonable question – do I really need it? If you only use the cloud for storage and don’t care for the rest, CASB software might be overkill.

In this case, try using a reliable cloud service like NordLocker to secure your data in the cloud. It will not only be encrypted with bulletproof algorithms, but you’ll also be able to control who can access the files by granting and revoking permissions.

Oliver Noble

Oliver Noble

Verified author

A nerd with a laser focus on all things cybersec. His own words. Oliver’s hobbies away from the computer include reading, Netflix, and testing the limits of yet another Raspberry Pi. To our surprise, this 130-pound ‘nerd’ also bakes a killer pumpkin pie.