As more users turn to cloud solutions, IT departments find themselves with a growing list of questions.

  • Who is accessing cloud-based data?
  • From where?
  • Which services are they using? How many files are they uploading?
  • How much bandwidth are cloud services consuming?
  • Are they abiding by regulatory requirements?
  • How much usage are organizations getting from their cloud-based services?
  • Are they secure?

One of the easiest ways for organizations to manage their cloud portfolios, gain insight into their usage and keep them secure is to turn to a cloud access security broker (CASB) such as Cisco Systems’ CloudLock platform.

A CASB solution serves as a broker between an organization’s network and its various cloud services. These solutions have been around for a few years and have become indispensible for many enterprises in the past year due to the ever-increasing volume and sophistication of cyberattacks.

Organizations can implement protections such as data loss prevention or encryption on their internal networks, but how can they monitor data as it passes to and from the cloud? CASB solutions intercept that traffic using application programming interfaces (APIs) and enable administrators to create policies that provide insight into, and enhance the security of, all of their cloud-based resources.

Choosing the Right CASB Solution

A strong CASB solution has several features, including a data security and compliance component. For instance, some solutions offer a data loss prevention package that can monitor data and user activity and automate policies such as file encryption, quarantine and end-user notifications.

An important consideration before purchasing a solution is to determine whether it’s compatible with regulatory requirements. For instance, some industries are prohibited from allowing certain data to leave their networks without tokenization or encryption, but not all CASB solutions support these tools. Others offer built-in policies and reports to ensure compliance with specific regulations, such as the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act and the Payment Card Industry Data Security Standard.

It’s also important to look at the monitoring and auditing tools within a CASB platform. Strong solutions offer automated reports and alerting as well as behavior-based detections. Some employ machine learning to analyze user and entity behavior and give organizations the ability to defend against accounts that may be compromised. For instance, a U.S.-based user logging in from Russia or accessing more files than normal would trigger an alert.

One feature that’s unique to CloudLock is its application discovery and control tool. It’s essentially a custom firewall built into the solution. It discovers all connected cloud applications and reviews them to ensure they’re legitimate.

Another crucial consideration before purchasing a CASB solution is to determine whether it covers the cloud services that an organization uses, such as Box, Dropbox, Microsoft Office 365 and Google. Some CASB solutions open their APIs so that they can interact with, and provide additional security measures to, other tools. Other providers may keep their APIs closed so that organizations can’t use them with custom or less-common cloud applications.

CASBs are not complicated. In fact, they are intended to deliver simplicity and clarity. A solution like CloudLock can get a customer up and running with a few standard applications (Box, Office 365) in less than a couple of hours. By connecting an organization’s entire cloud portfolio with a brokerage solution, administrators can start crossing some tough questions off their lists.

To learn more about CDW solutions and services that can help your organization improve its cloud security, visit CDW.com/security

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