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Complementary to CASB: Private App Access

June 22, 2020

As we said in our last blog post, applications are the beating heart of most businesses, so it’s important that they are protected against attacks from bad actors. Businesses use both public applications, like Salesforce, and private, internally-hosted applications to perform their day-to-day functions, and they have separate security needs and access requirements. For private apps, businesses can rely on Zero Trust Application Access solutions, but enterprises often rely on a Cloud Access Security Broker (CASB) to access SaaS applications.

In this blog, we’ll be going over what CASBs are, how they function, and where you can turn when you need to expand beyond a CASB’s functionality – to protect your private applications.

What is CASB?

A CASB is an on-premises or cloud-based solution that provides security for internet-facing, public SaaS applications. It is designed to sit between the service user and the public applications they are trying to access in order to enforce security and compliance policies.

CASBs help enterprises extend the security controls of their on-premises infrastructure to the cloud and monitor and provide deeper visibility into cloud and SaaS usage. This enables, for example, end-users to access the resources they need while also ensuring that they can’t see any information they aren’t authorized to.

Over the last decade, businesses have been increasingly employing CASB products to address their cloud service risks, enforce security policies, and comply with regulations. But, can CASB solutions protect the private, homegrown applications that your enterprise relies on?

The Four Pillars of CASBs

Before exploring what a CASB can do for your private applications, let’s dive into the main pillars CASBs use to deliver its functionality.

Visibility

In order to have a full picture of who is using their SaaS applications, businesses need to have visibility into user activity, but because users can connect directly with these applications over the Internet, Enterprises lose critical management, visibility and policy controls. CASBs fill this management gap by providing not only audit-level logging but alerts and reports that turn individual insights into actionable security intelligence. Armed with this knowledge, enterprises can fully understand their cloud spend, find redundancies in licenses, and discover all the cloud services in use by everyone inside and outside of their networks.

Compliance

Compliance is a large concern in many industries, but most SaaS vendors don’t offer the needed data protection and visibility tools that enable enterprises to stay compliant with regulatory mandates. A CASB can help safeguard a business against costly data breaches by maintaining compliance regulations set by a specific industry. CASBs are able to encrypt sensitive data to protect it against any malicious attacks. Additionally, CASBs can enforce data leakage prevention policies that are built to control access to sensitive data.

Data Security

CASBs are designed to monitor access to data and vary the level of access users have to public applications to ensure they are protected. They have the ability to enforce data-centric security policies that prevent unwanted activity from users. These policies are applied through a set of controls, such as alerts, encrypted data, audits and blocks.

Threat Protection

The last pillar that defines CASBs is threat protection. CASBs provide protection against threats that cloud application products aren’t equipped to handle, such as user behavior, in real-time. Malicious activity can come from anywhere, so CASBs are built to prevent unwanted devices, users, and other suspicious entities from accessing a business’s public applications.

A CASB is a great tool for gatekeeping public SaaS applications, but what about your private applications?

Is Axis Security a CASB vendor?

While there is some functional overlap, Axis Security is not a CASB vendor. Axis Security extends zero-trust security principles to private, homegrown applications that were built to be internally-facing. CASB technology doesn’t have the functionality to extend to private applications, so, in order to help protect their full suite of applications, businesses turn to legacy solutions like a VPN. As we’ve discussed in previous articles, VPNs move businesses away from Zero Trust and security by aggravating network and application security flaws.

Private applications can be much more vulnerable than public applications because public apps are built to be more defensive in case of malicious attacks. So, on top of the four pillars of CASBs, private application access brokers, like Axis Security’s App Access Cloud, are built with the additional pillars of access and application security.

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