Business Tech

How a cloud app security broker (CASB) enhances security, while enabling productivity

Imagine trying to run your business without the cloud. Software-as-a-service (SaaS) solutions have simplified remote collaboration, accounting, human resources, and numerous other business functions. They’re quick to set up and easy to use. So easy, in fact, you may not know which apps your employees are using—or which ones are storing company data—making you vulnerable to a security breach.  

To reduce your risk of a cyberattack, while taking advantage of the productivity of the cloud, consider a cloud app security broker (CASB) solution. CASBs help control how SaaS apps are used in your company and how information is shared through them. They offer many features, but five primary use cases stand out: 

1. Know which apps your employees use 

It may surprise you to learn how many cloud apps and SaaS solutions are used in your business. Even if you have mandated software for certain tasks, there are likely other apps floating around your company. Your team will look for the fastest way to get things done, and that may mean turning to an app they are familiar with from a previous job or jumping on a new tool that promises functionality they need. 

That may not seem like a big deal, if the work is getting done, but not all apps are created equal. Here a few of the cybersecurity issues that may be lurking in your shadow IT: 

  • Apps with security vulnerabilities: The apps your team uses may include bugs or defects that allow bad actors to gain access to employee devices or accounts. 
  • Malicious apps: An employee is enticed into downloading an app that was designed to trick people into giving it authorization to other systems.
  • Reused passwords: If employees reuse the same passwords across several different apps, it increases the likelihood that their account will be compromised.  

A CASB discovers all the apps and cloud services in use. It doesn’t matter if those apps are managed by IT or if your employees access the apps inside or outside your network—they’re all identified.  

2. Allow only the apps that meet your standards 

Once you’ve identified the SaaS solutions used in your organization, you’ll need to decide what to do about them. This starts by determining whether they align with company policy and if they meet your minimum security and compliance standards. A CASB significantly simplifies this process. For example, Microsoft Cloud App Security has cataloged over 16,000 apps and evaluated them against over eighty risk factors and regulations. Each of these apps is given a risk score. Understanding this allows you to take informed actions, such as: 

  • Blocking apps: Prevent employees from using any app that you deem a security risk. 
  • Onboarding apps: Reduce the number of passwords your employees use each day by connecting approved apps to your identity and access management solution. This will cut down on the number of reused passwords and decrease the risk of account compromise.
  • Set up monitoring: Get notified when new apps are introduced or usage of a known app increases.  

3. Protect your sensitive data 

To win new business, provide good customer service, or develop a product, your team needs to understand and share information. Enabling this collaboration is important, but if sensitive data gets out to the wrong people, it could hurt your business, cost you money, or even result in legal challenges.  

A CASB identifies what files and information are stored in which apps and who has access to them. If there are issues, a CASB provides tools to remove external sharing permissions, encrypt or delete files, among other security features.  

4. Use AI and automation to stop attacks 

It often takes weeks or even months to detect a cyberattack because bad actors are careful to cover their tracks. But there are subtle clues that indicate an account has been compromised. For example, if a user signs in from a country where they don’t live or accesses apps at an unusual time, it could mean someone has stolen their credentials. 

A good CASB learns the behavior of users and builds a behavioral profile around them. Then it alerts you when something suspicious is detected, such as: 

  • Anomalous user behavior: If a user’s use of your apps deviates from their behavior profile.
  • Data exfiltration: When there are indicators that data is being removed using a cloud app.
  • Malware: If malicious files are detected in your storage applications. 

5. Stay on top of regulations 

As people have grown more concerned about privacy, governments have responded with laws to help protect personal data. Depending on the size of your company, where you’re located, and the business you’re in, you may need to adhere to the California Consumer Privacy Act (CCPA), the General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR), Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA), the Payment Card Industry Data Security Standard (PCI DSS), or other regulations. CASBs help you audit and monitor your current compliance against relevant regulations.  

Get the most out of your CASB 

A CASB provides rich functionality to help you manage your cloud apps and protect your business. It’s even more powerful when integrated with other security solutions. For example, a CASB that works with an identity and access management solution, like Azure Active Directory, will share data and alerts to better detect anomalous behavior and block compromised accounts. When connected to an endpoint detection and response solution, you’ll get protection across devices and apps.


Microsoft 365 security offers a comprehensive approach to cybersecurity that includes Microsoft Cloud App Security to help safeguard data in your cloud apps and maximize productivity. 

Learn more about Microsoft Cloud App Security > 

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Business Insights and Ideas does not constitute professional tax or financial advice. You should contact your own tax or financial professional to discuss your situation..