Everything You Need to Know About Cloud Access Security Brokers

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A CASB, or cloud access security broker, is an intermediary that examines traffic from corporate devices and applies policies to cloud applications. Depending on your organization’s needs, a CASB solution can be delivered as on-premises software or a cloud service. CASBs offer visibility into activity, security policy enforcement, threat detection, and DLP capabilities that help your business confidently embrace cloud environments.

CASB Defined

What is the definition of cloud access security brokers? A cloud access security broker is on-premises or cloud-based recruiting software that sits between cloud service users and applications, monitors all activity, and enforces security policies. A CASB is a central security hub to monitor and govern your business’s cloud applications. With the increase in workforce mobility, the rise of bring-your-own-device (BYOD) programs, and the prevalence of unsanctioned employee application usage known as Shadow IT, monitoring third-party apps to prevent data loss, eavesdropping or malware is imperative. A CASB solution can discover all third-party apps, their risk level, and the types of data they’re accessing to prevent data leaks or security breaches. With a multimode architecture, a CASB provides visibility into cloud apps and services, which are then classified to determine potential security threats. This process allows security teams to establish policies that automatically allow, block, or limit access to cloud services and apps based on the data type they store or share. It also enables companies to encrypt data-at-rest and data-in-transit so that it is unreadable by attackers, even if they intercept transferred files. CASBs can also help ensure compliance with various regulations, including those about sensitive industry data like medical records or financial client data. They can be used to keep healthcare organizations HIPPA or HITECH-compliant, ensure financial consultants comply with FFIEC and FINRA, and protect against cyberattacks by detecting and preventing attempted data breaches. The four pillars of CASB protection are visibility, detection and response, malware prevention, and encryption. When shopping for a CASB, ensure it offers all these functions and integrates with your existing solutions to provide full coverage across your organization.


CASBs act as security policy enforcement points between an organization’s network and cloud service consumers, injecting enterprise policies as data or applications travel to, from, and within the cloud. They offer complete visibility into the cloud, sanctioned or unsanctioned, and identify and report on usage patterns. They also provide malware detection and prevention, encryption, tokenization, and upload prevention, which can help enterprises reduce the risk of data loss. By identifying employees’ cloud-based applications, CASBs can help companies discover shadow IT — apps used without IT knowledge or approval. Then, they can evaluate and assess each one’s relative risk, which helps IT shape access policy to meet the organization’s security requirements better.

Additionally, CASBs help companies get their cloud spending under control by finding redundancies in functionality and license costs. Plus, they help ensure compliance with strict regulations like HIPAA and FERPA, which are essential for businesses that rely on cloud services to store or process sensitive information.


CASBs are often deployed to stop malware, phishing, and other threats from entering the enterprise network. They also guard data from unauthorized access and prevent breaches by ensuring employees can only use approved cloud services and that the organization’s policies use these. As more and more business processes move to the cloud, it becomes increasingly more work for administrators to maintain visibility into how these applications are being used. CASBs help remedy this problem by identifying shadow IT and unauthorized applications, enabling administrators to control how these tools are used on the enterprise network, and providing cloud threat defenses that can be implemented at the firewall or endpoint. This includes malware prevention, encryption, and other forms of protection that ensure sensitive information does not fall into the wrong hands – whether transmitted across the Internet or stored on devices that employees lose. A CASB can also be leveraged to protect data integrity by preventing changes to files and folders that could cause the loss of important information. To maximize the benefits of a CASB, it’s recommended that businesses look for solutions with a broad range of capabilities. To this end, many CASB vendors have acquired or built up technologies usually offered as separate products, such as network firewalls, application control, endpoint security, etc.

Picking the right CASB

The right CASB for your enterprise must be flexible enough to accommodate various business workflows and security policies. For example, the authentication process should not be limited to a binary yes or no, so make sure you understand whether and how a CASB can incorporate more complex risk-based authentication. You also need to know if the product you’re considering supports field-level data encryption and its limitations in different operating modes. Lastly, it’s essential to look for the ability to protect against cloud threats that can expose your enterprise. This means looking for a CASB with advanced threat detection features like DLP, UEBA, and zero trust. Lookout’s Secure Cloud Access CASB, for instance, offers these capabilities and more—like scanning historical cloud data to find open files and analyzing encrypted traffic to spot potential malware. CASBs are vital to enterprises migrating their on-premise applications and services to the cloud. These security solutions act as policy enforcement hubs, consolidating multiple security functions and applying them to everything your business uses in the cloud—regardless of where it’s coming from or what kind of device is accessing it, even private smartphones or unmanaged laptops. By doing this, CASBs ensure visibility and control, critical in meeting compliance requirements, safeguarding your organization’s sensitive data, and maintaining a solid security posture.

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