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All you need to know about cloud access security brokers

Oliver Noble

Oliver Noble


May 10, 2021


4 min read

Imagine a security post at NASA. You come in, show your ID, the guard checks to see if you're on the list. You sign in and are allowed inside. If they later see you acting strangely on the security cameras, they’ll notify the authorities and come get you. Makes sense – you don’t want just anyone to be able to walk in and wander around freely, looking at top-secret information. Similarly, you don't want anyone going through your data online. Luckily, cloud services can also have a virtual security guard. It's called a cloud access security broker (CASB).

What is a cloud access security broker?

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

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

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

Why do you need a CASB?

Remote work has been growing steadily over the past few years, but after 2020 it might become the new norm. That, combined with using personal devices for work, means that businesses, 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. And you’d be technically right. But the impact on your employees’ productivity, combined with the additional costs that come with such a shift in the workflow, might be just as damaging to your business.

Furthermore, if you use cloud computing to deliver a service to your clients, 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.

How does CASB work?

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. You will also be able to 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.

It secures your data

CASB blocks unauthorized access, minimizing the chance of a data leak. It also 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. CASB allows you to set rules, grant and revoke access, and oversee the transfer of information.

It helps you adhere to laws and regulations

Businesses must comply with regulations when it comes to peoples’ personal data. CASB makes it easier to follow them and automatically change the way data is stored, accessed, and shared when data sovereignty laws change.

It keeps malware at bay

Whether it’s an inside job or an attack from the outside, CASB will prevent malware from getting into your cloud systems. One of your employees might intentionally try to upload malware, or their account could get hacked. Either way, CASB will detect malware or unauthorized access and respond accordingly – block an account, remove malicious software, etc.

Choosing a CASB provider

Choosing a reliable provider is a difficult task, but it’s time worth spending. Talk to different vendors, compare their features, 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.

While large corporations that use multiple cloud systems to carry out their business processes will undoubtedly benefit from CASB, small business owners might 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.