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Netskope and BeyondCorp Enterprise: The Power of Context

May 17 2022

Do you know where your users are going on the Internet? Do you know what they’re doing on the public Internet? How are you protecting your enterprise and your users from their cloud activities? These simple questions belie complex problems that can keep security and compliance practitioners up at night. One of the related challenges that organizations face today is controlling access to corporate and private file sharing applications such as Google Drive, OneDrive, and Dropbox. Controlling access to these types of applications is critical for two reasons: the amount of malware being delivered through these applications is growing at an alarming rate, and file sharing applications are frequently used to exfiltrate sensitive data. 

Context is king. Block everything or block nothing is easy. Implementing policy and using behavior to protect sensitive data while enabling your employees to be productive is hard. Thus, you need comprehensive contextualized security solutions. Today, Netskope announced its BeyondCorp Alliance partnership that enables Netskope and Google Cloud’s BeyondCorp Enterprise to share context about a user’s “risky” behavior through a new product integration. This partnership provides a zero trust architecture by combining context from application usage and access control. 

In a blog from December 2021, we wrote about the “out-of-the-box” experience that customers have when using the Netskope integration with the Chrome extension. This is important to security administrators, providing detailed context for devices, users, and the services those devices and users are accessing. This gives IT and security administrators the capability to use that context to define policies that can moderate access to IT-managed applications based on a user’s organizational role and activity, not just offer a binary allow/block decision that lacks additional context. 

Now, Google Cloud BeyondCorp Enterprise customers can gain more context, visibility, and prevention through the Netskope integration. We recognize proper context is needed to address complex security problems such as controlling access to file sharing services. Files sharing services contain rich, valuable corporate data that is needed for businesses to operate across the Internet. However, these services also create risky security conundrums. For example, your company is involved in a merger or acquisition, and thus, your everyday finance team needs access to sensitive data. These people are likely highly trusted employees that need to both upload and download files from a corporate file sharing service. But now they need to work with other organizations, and they need access to another company’s data. Before the merger is complete, they will likely have a separate identity managed by that company to access their file shares. The ability to upload and download files from that file service will be needed. This scenario shows how a single user can have two separate identities participating in potentially dangerous activity, such as transferring personally identifiable information (PII) or intellectual property (IP) between corporate entities. This situation requires speed, access, and security. At a minimum, this situation should be allowed based on role, but it should be closely monitored to ensure that sensitive information stays where it belongs and doesn’t violate compliance mandates.

An even more difficult challenge is controlling access to unmanaged file share applications. Some organizations struggle to stop an authorized and authenticated user from downloading confidential material from a corporate file share onto their managed device, and then uploading those same files to their own personal instance of a file sharing application, especially when URL filtering products often can’t differentiate between managed and unmanaged accounts, and to further complicate security, sharing services often use a separate URL for uploading files. 

What about abnormal behavior? This is where context really matters, but so does speed to action. How can you control users accessing IT-led cloud services from protected and managed devices that start to act in a suspicious or even risky manner? Changes in behavior are often not malicious, but what if credentials have been compromised? Using Netskope and Google Cloud BeyondCorp Enterprise together, risky users or devices are automatically put into a risk reducing group. Netskope and BeyondCorp Enterprise can drive a different set of access controls from BeyondCorp Enterprise enrolled devices for these users, continuously reducing the risk that either malware is downloaded or sensitive data is uploaded. Together, we can continuously monitor until post-investigation, or when the user behavior is restored to “normal”. 

In talking with Prashant Jain, Product Manager for Google Cloud BeyondCorp Enterprise, he hears customers are asking Google for more context visibility and more auto-remediation or auto risk reduction. And our new integration helps extend this critical zero trust principle. 

Context can also be used to create policies to monitor all shadow IT traffic to determine which users are accessing which services, and how the services relate to their role. This enables Netskope to intelligently and appropriately limit activities with, and in, all cloud resources and data from hosts that steer traffic through the Netskope Security Cloud platform, while BeyondCorp Enterprise leverages the risk context to drive nuanced access controls to enterprise applications, including those on devices that are not running the Netskope client. Taken together, user and device risk is comprehensively and continuously monitored while zero trust access policies are continuously enforced. 

Click here to learn more about the Netskope integration with Google Cloud BeyondCorp Enterprise and attend the presentation covering the power of this integration at the 2022 Google Security Summit on Tuesday May, 17, live or on-demand. If you’re interested in other Netskope integrations with Google Cloud, check out our pages on Netskope for Google Cloud and Netskope for Google Workspace.

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David Willis
David is an experienced business, security, and technology leader with over 20 years of experience across telecommunications, financial services, and software industry verticals. David currently serves as Head of Technology Integrations for the Business Development Team, focused on addressing tactical and strategic security and IT solution integration needs at scale for Netskope customers. David also leads the building and expansion of new routes to market for Netskope.