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Next Gen SWG Use Case #1 – Monitor and Assess Risk

Mar 11 2020

This is a series of articles focused on Next Gen SWG uses cases.  This is the first in a series of six posts.

In my recent blog, I introduced six top use cases that some of the largest enterprises in the world are covering with our Next Gen Secure Web Gateway (NG-SWG). This blog post will focus on double-clicking on the first use case, which is centered around monitoring and assessing risk with cloud app and web usage.

It is fitting that we start with this use case because visibility and risk assessment is often the starting point for any security team. One of the challenges faced today is that legacy secure web gateway products are effectively blind to cloud traffic, or at least what is happening behind the scenes. This is problematic because, for an average organization, approximately 85% of web traffic is now related to the 1,295 apps and cloud services they use. Not having visibility into what is going on with a majority of your traffic puts you in an unfavorable position.

A Next Gen SWG like Netskope provides monitoring and deep, contextual visibility of user activities and behavior when accessing websites and cloud apps. Given that more than 95% of cloud apps are outside the administrative control of IT, risk ratings for tens of thousands of apps are also required.

Here are some of the core capabilities of Netskope’s Next Gen SWG that are important in helping you monitor and understand cloud and web usage.

Simple inline proxy deployment

Netskope offers two primary inline proxy deployment modes. You can configure direct-to-internet IPsec and GRE tunnels for users at a branch or HQ location or use the method preferred by most customers, which is to deploy a lightweight steering client that will protect users anywhere they go on their managed device. Some customers will combine deployment methods.

TLS inspection + Cloud XD to eliminate blind spots and spotlight risky activities 

Netskope’s Next Gen SWG inspects TLS encrypted traffic as the first step. SSL/TLS decryption is performed in the cloud at cloud-scale with no appliances required. Seeing inside TLS alone is not enough, as you need to see beyond URLs, HTTP POST, and HTTP GET to get a clear picture of risky activities taking place within cloud apps. This is where a Next Gen SWG like Netskope has the ability to decode the API/JSON communication taking place within cloud app traffic to provide rich, contextual detail about the user, device, location, app, app instance, activity, and sensitive nature of the content.  Netskope can do this for thousands of cloud apps.

Netskope Cloud Confidence Index (CCI) risk ratings for over 33,000 cloud apps

Unlike traditional cloud app discovery, which relies on parsing logs from a perimeter device, Netskope’s next gen SWG uses the inline proxy to discover cloud apps in use and provide a comprehensive assessment of the enterprise-readiness of the cloud apps. The Netskope research team uses more than 50 different criteria to rate more than 33,000 cloud apps. Ratings of cloud apps are modeled after the Cloud Security Alliance (CSA) cloud controls matrix and includes seven profiles: security, risk, privacy, compliance, vulnerabilities, financial, and legal/audit. In addition to helping assess risk with current cloud usage, the CCI can also be used for vendor assurance as you are researching the security capabilities of a particular SaaS vendor being considered for onboarding.

AI/Ml for website and cloud app categorization

Netskope’s next gen SWG employs advanced AI/ML techniques to streamline and scale the process of categorizing websites and cloud apps that have been identified as part of the inline discovery process. Netskope can dynamically rate new and unknown web page content for 70 categories. This ensures that you have a clear picture on cloud and web usage and have accurate data you can use to enforce usage policies.

Follow data everywhere it goes

One you have Netskope’s Next Gen SWG deployed, all data is tracked as it goes to websites and flows from users to cloud apps. Without creating a policy, Netskope will alert you when it sees data going from one cloud app to another including data going from a corporate to a personal instance. This is very helpful in identifying potential data exfiltration activities and can also help you as you craft your first policies to take action.

Gaining an understanding of your cloud and web usage is important not just for the initial baseline monitoring, but also is important to perform this on an ongoing basis. You can learn more about this use case and watch a demo here. Stay tuned for my next blog post covering use case #2, granular control of unmanaged cloud apps.

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Bob Gilbert
Bob Gilbert heads up the product marketing efforts at Netskope, a market-leading cloud security company. Bob is a prolific speaker and product demonstrator, reaching live audiences in more than 45 countries over the past decade.