Netskope named a Leader in the 2024 Gartner® Magic Quadrant™ for Security Service Edge. Get the report

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Breaking Boundaries: The Industry’s First SSE Leader to Leverage Generative AI in SaaS Security

May 02 2024

SaaS applications have fundamentally transformed business operations by enabling on-demand user access to services and data via the internet from anywhere. Yet, despite countless benefits, SaaS in the enterprise is fraught with cybersecurity challenges. 

Addressing SaaS sprawl

It goes without saying that SaaS adoption has experienced exponential growth across every industry and market segment. The sprawl of SaaS is demonstrated by the ever increasing quantity of SaaS applications used within organizations. In fact, our research suggests that a typical enterprise overall uses 2,400+ distinct cloud services and SaaS apps.

Another manifestation of SaaS sprawl is the increased usage of unmanaged apps, or shadow IT, across virtually every business function inside the organization. Despite organizations trying to tackle the shadow IT challenge for years, a good example that it still persists is the rapid adoption of genAI apps by employees across virtually every industry. Findings in Netskope’s January 2024 Cloud & Threat Report, state that genAI apps, which were virtually non-existent in the enterprise until late 2022, are now a mainstay, with more than 10% of users accessing cloud-based genAI apps each month and the top 25% of users exponentially increasing their use of these apps.

Clearly, SaaS sprawl (including genAI apps) becomes problematic when organizations lose sight of the SaaS applications in use and their cybersecurity risks. The absence of visibility and lack of control over your SaaS estate can result in security incidents, compliance issues, and exposure of data. 

Unscrambling the SaaS chaos 

Gaining visibility into your SaaS estate provides insights into how your employees engage with different categories of applications, application-specific vulnerabilities, activities that may lead to security issues, application usage, and the extent of their interactions. By obtaining this visibility with contextual risk insights, you are empowered to make informed decisions, manage risks, and maximize the value derived from your SaaS investments.

Traditional cloud access security brokers (CASBs) leverage manual app identification and app risk categorization processes to build a library of applications that can offer customers some level of insight into SaaS usage, but they often fall short in providing timely, accurate, and scalable visibility needed to effectively manage and secure the exponential growth of a modern SaaS environment.

Netskope’s industry-leading CASB solution, part of the broader unified Netskope One platform, enables you to quickly identify and manage the use of your growing SaaS estate, regardless of whether the apps are managed by IT or are shadow IT. 

The Netskope Cloud Confidence Index™ (CCI)–our repository of over 80,000 enterprise SaaS applications–automatically audits your traffic to discover your overall risk profile across every application used within your organization. The CCI’s machine learning-based risk categorization is anchored in objective criteria encompassing the application’s security, auditability, and resilience in ensuring uninterrupted business continuity, with a high accuracy rate for assessing risk in applications. 

Supercharging SaaS security with genAI-driven app risk discovery

Here at Netskope we enable businesses to proactively address the latest security challenges in safeguarding SaaS environments. We already lead the industry in terms of the number of apps supported and the number of attributes supported across those apps.

To better serve our customers in the age of AI, we are not just protecting our customers’ use of genAI, we’ve expedited the process of app risk categorization by using cutting-edge genAI-driven algorithms and large language models (LLM) within our own technology. Utilizing our genAI engine, we aim to extend the scope and precision of our app risk discovery to an unprecedented level.

The genAI engine that powers Netskope’s SaaS security risk categorization is designed to extract relevant contextual information from each new SaaS application that has not yet been classified in the CCI. The models swiftly generate highly precise risk assessment responses by parsing through contextual data and correlating it with 50+ SaaS app attributes based on the Cloud Security Alliance (CSA) Cloud Controls Matrix framework, thereby contributing to automating and significantly expediting the CCI’s risk scoring algorithm.

While this process is automated by Netskope, it is also available as self-service. For example, if you don’t find an app in our CCI repository, you are able to easily add it to the CCI without Netskope’s supervision, and get quick app categorization and risk scores on demand. In addition, LLMs are used to respond to users’ queries in natural language, and extract and display more tailored, relevant risk insights for every SaaS application that is cataloged in the CCI. For example, if you search for an app in the Netskope CASB solution to get full oversight of its risk categories and want to get more information, you can now ask our CASB to get text-based, in-depth contextual responses to your specific queries, directly in the Netskope console. 

In essence, the Netskope CASB solution is continuously assembling, collecting, and updating flows of contextual risk data about SaaS applications within our retrieval system, and employing genAI and LLMs for high fidelity risk categorization based on this data. This allows us to offer a scalable, effective, and agile cloud application risk database that keeps pace with the rapid SaaS sprawl. 

With this level of granular visibility into your SaaS ecosystem, you can build and enforce highly precise security policies based on the distinct category of the application as well as the risk scores associated with each specific app, and you can ensure that your sensitive data doesn’t get exposed to emerging risks.

It’s worth noting that the ongoing genAI risk categorization in the solution is subject to continuous oversight by Netskope for high fidelity, unless you’ve added an app to the CCI via the self-served genAI categorization within your private Netskope service instance. Drawing from more than a decade of experience in SaaS security, you can rely on us to employ advanced supervisory capabilities to monitor the LLM-based risk assessment process closely.


Netskope consistently prioritizes securing SaaS environments, earning our customers’ trust and recognition from the industry for our efforts, such as our most recent achievement of being named a leader in the Gartner Magic Quadrant for Security Service Edge (SSE) for a third year in a row. By incorporating genAI-driven capabilities and LLMs into our CASB, we aim to bolster the enterprise readiness of your SaaS environment and enforce security within compliance standards, under vigilant supervision. This milestone underscores our commitment to providing customers with leading edge SaaS security innovations in the era of AI. 

For discussions and demos on our AI-powered CASB, visit us at RSA, Booth #1035, from May 6th to May 9th, 2024, Moscone South.

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Carmine Clementelli
Carmine Clementelli is a security expert and technology leader for data security, CASB, and zero trust at Netskope.

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