The Most Critical CASB Use Cases in the Market Today: Enforce an Activity- or Data-level Policy Across a Category of Services

January 12, 2017 By Tajvia Willis

As cloud services become more prevalent in enterprises, IT is getting smarter about what to do with them. Whereas a couple of years ago, IT might have opted to “sanction one cloud service and block the rest,” today’s professionals are a little more circumspect. They realize that their users have external collaborators such as suppliers, partners, and customers, and that requires a more nuanced policy. Specifically, they cannot block unsanctioned services because those services may be sanctioned by important external collaborators, and to make it easy to do business with those collaborators, it doesn’t make sense to block the services entirely. Those professionals are turning to their cloud access security broker (CASB) to help them with this nuanced policy, which usually involves more liberal usage of their corporate sanctioned service, such as Box, Dropbox, Google Apps, Microsoft Office 365 OneDrive, Egnyte, ShareFile, and others, with throttled usage of other, unsanctioned, cloud storage services. Beyond cloud services, many organizations need to enforce policies across groups of users or organization units at a category level. For example, an organization may enforce a policy by user group, such as nobody outside of the HR group may download from any HR app.

Whether the policy is for a broad-based service like cloud storage or a functional one like HR, organizations need to enforce activity- and data-level policies at a category level.

Most CASBs do a pretty good job enforcing policy in a sanctioned cloud service, but where the rubber hits the road is what happens in the far-riskier situation of policy across many unsanctioned services. This means that, whether the service is Dropbox, Google Drive, or something you’ve never heard of – maybe Freakshare or Zippyshare or 4shared – the policy is enforced. It’s also critical that these policies be adhered to whether users are accessing cloud services from on-premises or remotely and whether they’re on a browser, mobile app, or sync client.

Netskope customers have deployed our all-mode architecture (with more than 80 percent of them going beyond a single mode) to achieve their most critical use cases. We have noted 15 of these use cases in our recent e-book, The 15 Critical CASB Use Cases, and we’re highlighting them and more (and we want to hear from you too!) in this blog.  

Here’s use case #10: Enforce an activity- or data-level policy across a category of services.

How can a CASB enable this use case? A CASB sits in between the user and the cloud service provider and monitors usage, enforces policy, and guards against threats. In order to enforce a policy across an entire category of services, the CASB needs necessarily to see all possible traffic, have that prior categorization, and be able to map activities in one cloud service (such as “share” or “download”) to those activities performed in another service, even if they are called something totally different and instantiated differently in the application code. From a deployment architecture standpoint, the CASB must be configured as a forward proxy. Moreover, in order to cover remote and mobile access, the organization must use a thin agent or mobile profile to cover all potential cloud traffic. Here are five critical functional requirements that are needed to achieve this use case:

  • Be aware of context, e.g., activities such as “upload,” “download,” and “share”
  • Correlate users’ identities (e.g., =  Note that correlating Bob’s personal email with his corporate email doesn’t mean you need to take any action on the personal instance at all — but it’s good to have the option.
  • See and control usage in both sanctioned and unsanctioned services
  • Integrate with enterprise directory to enforce policies at a group or organizational unit level
  • Decrypt SSL and decode the unpublished API to understand the transaction (for forward proxy)

How are you enforcing activity- and data-level policies across service categories in your cloud services? We want to hear from you.
Learn more about this and 14 additional most impactful use cases by downloading The 15 Critical CASB Use Cases.