What is a Cloud Access Security Broker (CASB) and How To Find One?

cloud access security broker

A Cloud Access Security Broker (CASB) is a software product that provides an interface between the cloud and on-premises networks. CASBs provide secure access from users’ devices into private clouds, public clouds or hybrid environments such as those based on Microsoft Azure. The term “cloud” refers to any networked computing environment in which resources can be shared across multiple computers using virtualization technology. A CASB allows organizations to securely connect their internal applications with external services without managing security for each application individually. It also enables them to use existing infrastructure rather than building new systems.

Cisco Systems released the first commercial CASB in 2009. In 2012, Google launched its CASB called AppArmor. Since then, other companies have followed suit, including IBM, Symantec, among others. To gain a basic understanding of CASB, let’s look at how it has evolved.

Evolution of the CASB

In 2008, Cisco introduced the Network Admission Control Service, a service designed to help protect against malicious attacks on enterprise networks. NACS uses two main components: a client agent installed on endpoints and a server component running within the firewall/router. When a device attempts to establish a connection to the Internet, the router checks if there’s a policy associated with this endpoint; if so, the request will be denied.

In 2010, Cisco introduced the Network Admission Control, a device level firewall solution designed to protect against attacks like Distributed Denial of Service. NAC uses machine learning techniques to identify potential threats before they reach your organization’s network perimeter. This helps prevent DDoS attacks from reaching your network. However, this approach does not address vulnerabilities within your network.

A decade down the line, cloud usage had become more pervasive than it was previously imagined. On average, businesses now utilize more than 1950 cloud services as opposed to the stipulated 30 services.

Benefits of Cloud Access Security Broker

Reduced cost:

Organizations save money because they don’t need to purchase hardware, install software, train employees, etc., all of which would usually be required if they were to implement traditional VPNs. They only pay for what they consume.

Increased productivity:

Employees no longer spend time configuring and maintaining VPN connections; instead, they focus on completing tasks at hand. This frees up valuable employee time so they can work more efficiently.

Improved user experience:

Users enjoy increased speed when accessing data stored within the organization’s private cloud. Additionally, it eliminates the hassle of manually entering passwords every time they want to log onto corporate servers.

Improved security:

By providing a single point of control over how information flows through your company’s IT infrastructure, you gain visibility into who has access to sensitive data and where it resides. You can take action against unauthorized activity before it occurs.

Increased flexibility:

With a CASB, you can easily move workloads between different types of infrastructures, whether this includes moving data between physical locations, connecting to remote offices via WAN links, or even connecting to third-party providers like Amazon Web Services.

Reduced risk:

When implemented correctly, a CASB will help protect your business from cyber-attacks. For example, it prevents malicious code from being uploaded to your server, thereby preventing malware infections.

Implementation Considerations of Cloud Access Security Broker

Before deciding to deploy a CASB, there are several factors to consider. These include:

Security requirements –

What level of protection do you require? Do you need to encrypt traffic going outbound or restrict incoming requests? How much bandwidth does your organization expect to utilize? Will you be storing confidential documents or intellectual property online? If so, what type of encryption should be applied?

Network topology:

Is your network comprised of one large LAN connected directly to the Internet, or is it made up of smaller subnets? Are some areas isolated from the rest of the network? Does your organization plan to host content internally or externally?

Data storage location:

Where will your data reside? Will it be hosted locally or remotely? Will it be encrypted while in transit? If it’s hosted locally, will it be protected by an intrusion detection system? If remotely, will it be accessible using standard protocols such as FTP or HTTP?

User adoption:

Who needs to use the service? Should users be able to self-service their connection settings? Or should an administrator manage them? Many other considerations must also be taken into account when deploying a CASB solution. However, these three questions provide a good starting place for determining if a CASB makes sense for your organization.

Cost considerations:

How much will deploying a CASB cost? Can you afford not to have one? Cloud Access Security Broker can be pretty expensive given that organizations typically have multiple devices running Windows Server 2012 R2 Standard Edition with 2 GB RAM each. However, as mentioned earlier, these costs can be offset by reduced operational expenses.

Deployment options:

Which deployment model best suits your environment? On-premise vs. public cloud vs. hybrid? The premise option requires that you have dedicated resources available to support the solution. The public cloud option allows you to leverage existing resources without requiring additional investment. The hybrid option provides both benefits by allowing you to choose which resource works best for each scenario.

What do Cloud Access Security Brokers offer?

A CASB offers two main functions: authentication and authorization.


Authentication ensures that only authorized clients access services on the network. It helps prevent unauthorized individuals from accessing sensitive information stored within the enterprise’s networks. Authentication methods vary depending upon how they’re used. Some examples include Kerberos, NTLMv1/NTLMv2 and RADIUS.


Authorization determines whether a user has permission to perform specific actions based on his identity. For example, a company may allow employees to view internal web pages but block external connections. This prevents outsiders from viewing proprietary information. Authorizations can be configured at different levels, including device, IP address, MAC addresses, ports, applications, etc.

CASBs help protects against threats like phishing attacks, malware infections, denial of service attacks, distributed denial of service, and others. They also ensure compliance with regulations like HIPAA, PCI DSS, SOX, GLBA, FERPA, COPPA, FCRA, FTC guidelines, EU GDPR, etc.

Four pillars of CASB

Cloud Access Security Broker is built on four fundamental pillars: Visibility, Compliance, Data Security, Threat Protection.


Every business looks forward to the day when they can access their data from anywhere and at any time. Cloud Access Security Brokers provide visibility into cloud services that your organization is using. It provides visibility into the identity and behaviour of users accessing your applications in a public or private cloud environment. They help you understand how they are using those resources so that you can better manage them. The CASB lets you see who has accessed what application from where, when, for how long, and with which credentials. This information allows you to identify potential threats before they impact your business operations.

While this may seem like an obvious requirement, it’s essential to understand why visibility matters. If you don’t know who’s doing what within your network, then you have no way of knowing if someone else might be trying to do something terrible. You also won’t know whether there are security vulnerabilities in your systems. Without visibility, you’re blind to these issues until after the damage has been done.


The second pillar of CASBs is compliance. As we discussed earlier, many organizations use cloud-based solutions as part of their overall IT strategy. However, not all cloud providers offer the same level of protection against cyberattacks. A cloud provider must meet specific requirements set forth by various government agencies such as PCI DSS, HIPAA and SOX. In addition, some companies require additional certifications to ensure that sensitive customer data remains secure while stored in the cloud. These certifications include ISO 27001, SOC 2 Type II and FedRAMP.

Data Security:

The third pillar of CASBs is data security. Many businesses store confidential company documents and other valuable assets online. When storing sensitive data in the cloud, it becomes more vulnerable than ever because hackers could potentially gain unauthorized access to it through malicious software installed on end-user devices. To protect your data, you need to make sure that only authorized individuals have access to it. That means ensuring that only people who should have access get access. For example, employees shouldn’t be able to view files containing trade secrets without authorization. And customers shouldn’t be allowed to download large amounts of personal financial records without permission.

Threat Protection:

Finally, CASBs work together with threat intelligence tools to detect suspicious activity. By combining real-time monitoring capabilities with advanced analytics, CASBs enable you to spot attacks and take action before they cause harm quickly. With the right combination of technology and expertise, you’ll be able to stop breaches before they happen.

How Does CASB Work?

A CASB works by analyzing traffic between two parties—the client device and the service endpoint. Traffic analysis involves examining the content of messages exchanged over networks. Using machine learning algorithms, CASBs analyze message headers, payloads, and metadata to determine if the communication matches known attack patterns. Once identified, the CASB alerts administrators about possible misuse.

How to find a CASB

CASBs can help prevent cybercrime from occurring or mitigate its effects once it does happen. But finding one isn’t easy. There aren’t any industry standards for how CASBs should operate. So when shopping around for a solution, look at each vendor’s unique features and benefits. Here are three things to consider when choosing a CASB:

1) What type of services will my organization want to monitor?

The type of services an organization wants to monitor depends on what kind of threats it faces. If your business has high-risk transactions like credit card processing, you may want to choose a CASB that offers full fraud detection capability. On the other hand, if your business doesn’t handle highly risky transactions, you might want to focus on detecting phishing emails.

2) How much time do I have to implement this system?

If you don’t have enough time to deploy a new system, you probably won’t benefit from using a CASB. The good news is that most vendors provide free trials so you can test out their products before making a purchase decision.

3) Will the CASB fit into our existing infrastructure?

Some CASBs integrate directly with network firewalls. Others connect via VPN tunnels. Still, others rely on dedicated hardware appliances. You also need to know whether the CASB supports all types of protocols used within your environment.

What’s Next?

As we’ve seen, there are many different ways to use CASBs to improve cybersecurity. However, not every CASB provides the same level of protection against cyberattacks. Some offer little value beyond basic email scanning. Before investing in a CASB, ask yourself these questions:

  • Does the CASB meet my needs?
  • Do I understand how it operates?
  • Is it compatible with my current security solutions?
  • Will it scale as my company grows?
  • Are there better alternatives available?

Once you answer those questions, you’re ready to make an informed choice.


A Cloud Access Security Broker is basically a cloud-based firewall that helps organizations identify malicious activities happening across their entire enterprise. It combines real-time monitoring capabilities and advanced analytics to detect suspicious behaviour. A CASB enables IT admins to block dangerous communications while allowing legitimate ones through. And because it integrates with multiple devices and systems, it makes it easier than ever to protect users’ data.

Cloud access security brokers combine real-time monitoring capabilities, advanced analytics, and integration with third-party applications to detect suspicious activity. They enable IT administrators to block dangerous communications while letting legitimate ones pass through. Because they work with various platforms and technologies, they make it easier than ever to secure user information.

Laid on four pillars, a CASB consists of two main components: threat intelligence feeds and policy enforcement. Threat intelligence feeds collect information about potential attacks by analyzing traffic patterns and identifying anomalies. Policy enforcement determines which actions to take based on the results of the analysis.

The criteria for choosing a CASB include understanding how it works, compatibility with existing technology, scalability, and cost-effectiveness. Once you decide which CASB fits best with your requirements, you’ll be able to take advantage of the latest tools and techniques to keep your employees safe online.

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