In search of cloud access security

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bit540 in search of cloud access security
US company SkyHigh Networks has produced “The Definitive Guide to Cloud Security.” Comprehensive it certainly is. It's 43 pages list well over 100 “Key questions IT security should be able to answer related to …” various aspects of cloud or “key requirements for enabling secure…” access to various cloud services.

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Useful and informative as the document is, it also has an ulterior motive: to promote services offered by SkyHigh Networks, namely that of cloud access security brokerage – an emerging service driven by the rapid uptake of cloud services and particularly by what might be called feral cloud services: those that have escaped from the confines of IT, courtesy of employees’ fondness for shadow IT.

Gartner recently produced a report Technology Overview for Cloud Access Security Broker in which it claims credit for inventing the term, in 2012. Since then, says Gartner, a number of vendors have emerged, the majority relying on venture capital funding. However, Gartner says there are few established security vendors in this market. (The report lists a total of 15, which Gartner says is not exhaustive, merely indicative).

According to Gartner “CASBs provide a consolidated view of data, device, user and administrative activities that is otherwise inaccessible because SaaS and many other public cloud-based services today lack enterprise-ready activity monitoring. They can also discover the types and extent of shadow IT by providing visibility into which cloud-based applications are being used by which employees.”

Gartner says CASBs have emerged because other security solutions are not easy or often even feasible to deploy in front of cloud services. “CASBs, at a high level, are designed to deliver four pillars of functionality that differentiate them from existing security technologies in relation to securing cloud services,” it says.

“These are visibility, compliance, data security and threat protection for the enterprise consumption of cloud services.”

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CASBs comprise on-premise or cloud-hosted software that acts as a control point to secure cloud services. CASBs generally offer a range of capabilities including encryption, auditing, data loss prevention (DLP), access control, and anomaly detection.

Gartner says that, by 2016, 25 percent of enterprises will secure access to cloud-based services using a CASB platform, up from less than one percent in 2012, reducing the cost of securing access by 30 percent.

Given Gartner’s assessment of the maturity of the market today that seems quite high. Gartner describes brokerage as “an emerging technology that is early in its evolution where providers are at various levels of financial and product maturity,” and it cautions organisations against signing long-term contracts. Further, it says, multiple providers may be required if the primary vendor cannot deliver all the required use cases or support all the cloud services required.

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