A cloud access security broker (CASB) is the technology that companies use when they look for a central way to secure their data in cloud services. According to Gartner (download a free report here), a CASB acts as a control point to support continuous visibility, compliance, threat protection, and security for cloud services. A recent survey by the Cloud Security Alliance (CSA) asked over 200 IT professionals about their views on CASB. Across all IT professionals, 60.1% are familiar with the term “cloud access security broker.” However, IT professionals at companies with more than 10,000 employees are more likely (69.8%) to be familiar with CASB compared with their counterparts at companies with fewer than 1,000 employees (55.7%).

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It makes sense large enterprises – who have been under attack for years – have been quicker to adopt new security technologies such as CASB, but medium sized enterprises are catching up. Skyhigh’s own analysis finds that the average enterprise uses 1,154 distinct cloud services, each one potentially hosting sensitive corporate data where it can be unintentionally exposed with a few mouse clicks or finger taps. Organizations have deployed an array of security technology to protect data in on-premises systems from internal and external threats including data loss prevention (DLP), firewall, secure web gateway (SWG), security and event management (SIEM), information rights management (IRM), and user and entity behavior analytics (UEBA) solutions. These same organizations now need to extend these controls to the cloud.

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The top CASB use cases

Among IT professionals who are familiar with CASB, 60.7% say that enforcing data loss prevention policies is an important capability for their organization. That’s tied with the ability to view detailed audit trails of all user and administrator actions across cloud services. Next, 52.5% say it’s important to be able to detect compromised accounts and insider threats and 51.6% say that encrypting data with their own encryption keys is important. Taken together, IT professionals are primarily looking to CASB technology to prevent the leakage of sensitive data, gain insight into every action users perform in the cloud, encrypt their data, and be alerted when activity within a cloud service indicates a threat. A similar number of respondents rated each capability as important – ranging from 47.5% to 60.7%.

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The findings in the Cloud Security Alliance survey align with research from industry analysts such as Gartner who divide up CASB functionality into four pillars: visibility, threat protection, compliance, and data security. To learn more about the functions of a cloud access security broker and download free copies of analyst research, click here.

CASB adoption expected to double this year

Driven by the need to secure data uploaded to cloud services, an increasing number of companies are deploying CASB solutions. Today, 10.5% of companies use a CASB. Another 12.7% have immediate plans to deploy a CASB in the next 12 months. That means the usage of CASB will more than double in the next year. Gartner expects that by 2020, 85% of enterprises will use a cloud access security broker to secure their data in cloud services, up from 5% in 2015 (Gartner, How to Evaluate and Operate a Cloud Access Security Broker, Neil MacDonald, Craig Lawson, December 8, 2015).

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