Cloud Security and Privacy Don’t Need to Be at Odds


By Ameet Naik, Systems Engineering Director, Netskope Canada

Privacy is a leading concern when enterprises expand their usage of the cloud. Cloud Access Security Brokers (CASB) address cloud activity governance and fill in the gaps in security controls across cloud services. Called the #1 information security priority by Gartner, the market has raised eyebrows in the privacy community. Some of the capabilities outlined in the CASB definition (policy enforcement, anti-malware, encryption) promote user privacy while others (user auditing) may seem counter to it.

This Wednesday marks the eighth annual International Data Privacy Day, and to observe the day, Netskope is championing a conversation between CISOs, Privacy Officers and Enterprise Architects at the Toronto Board of Trade with the three-term Information and Privacy Commissioner of Ontario, Ann Cavoukian. Ann has led the way in Canada and around the globe with her “Privacy by Design” framework, stressing the importance of privacy working in tandem with other priorities such as security, and promoting the notion of privacy built into systems as opposed to bolted on.

We at Netskope fully embrace Privacy by Design, and have addressed its principles in our own product architecture from day one. We lay out these principles and explain how Netskope supports them in our white paper. Below is a short summary of each principle and how to think about them in the context of CASB:

Principle 1. Proactive not reactive; preventative not remedial

To ensure privacy protection, controls need to be proactive and preventative. Your CASB should offer proactive governance tools to control movement of user information to and from all cloud apps. It’s not enough to merely see retroactive reports of what happened last week.

Principle 2. Privacy as the default setting

The best way to ensure privacy is by making it the default; the default setting prevails 80 percent of the time. Your CASB should be able to enforce your privacy policies across any cloud app as well as within the CASB solution itself by enabling organizations to enforce default privacy settings when auditing cloud app activities for security threats.

Principle 3. Privacy embedded into design

Think about data privacy before you on-board sanctioned cloud applications, not after the fact. Your CASB should offer user privacy controls such as data loss prevention, data sovereignty controls, and encryption of data-at-rest as if they’re embedded.  At the same time, your CASB should allow for the tokenization or obfuscation of personally identifiable information.

Principle 4. Full functionality: positive-sum, not zero-sum

Privacy should be a positive-sum, win-win proposition with other legitimate interests. Your CASB solution should not hinder the functionality or availability of cloud applications and all policy & privacy controls should function regardless of the location or the device they are accessed from.

Principle 5. End-to-end security; full lifecycle protection

Security & privacy should be part of the conversation through the entire application lifecycle, from on-boarding to decommissioning. Pay attention to cloud applications’ data retention policies and data migration/erasure policies. How can you be sure your information is truly deleted if you end your relationship with the app vendor? CASBs such as Netskope offer a comprehensive Cloud Confidence Index that help understand applications’ data management policies. Is your data encrypted at rest? Is your data wiped clean if you leave the service? Can you download and migrate your data to a different vendor? These are all questions that can be answered in a few clicks using a CASB solution.

Principle 6. Visibility and transparency – keep it open

This principle promotes a “trust but verify” model that ensures transparency for all parties. While it is your responsibility to communicate your monitoring procedures and policies to users, your CASB solution should assist with automated coaching messages and the ability to be part of the solution.

Principle 7. Respect for user privacy – keep it user-centric

Above all, privacy and security controls need to be user-centric and respect the user experience. Your CASB solution should respect the end-user experience at every stage, through user notifications, coaching messages and user alert emails every time an enforcement action is taken.

What are some of the ways that privacy and security work together in your organization? Let us know here or at and use the hashtag #privacybydesign.