Cloud Access Security Broker (CASB): Functions, Benefits, and Structure

Sudesh Gadewar

Nov 06, 2022 / 4 min read

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Before migrating to the cloud, many organizations may have cloud access security concerns. This article will delve into how cloud access security brokers (CASBs) address these concerns through their structure, operation, and function. CASBs have become an essential part of security, creating an environment where businesses can safely use the cloud while protecting their valuable data. CASBs are able to ensure security by acting as a policy enforcement center, utilizing a variety of security types, and applying them in enterprise security.

What is a Cloud Access Security Broker (CASB)?

Cloud access security brokers (CASB) act as a policy enforcement point between cloud service consumers and cloud service providers that combine and interject enterprise security policies as cloud-based resources are accessed. Essentially, they enforce the rules and regulations set by cloud service administrators.

CASBs are becoming more popular for addressing cloud service risks, enforcing security policies, and complying with regulations. CASBs can address gaps in security through SaaS, PaaS, and IaaS environments. Furthermore, a CASB allows organizations to extend their security policies from pre-existing on-premises infrastructure to the cloud—and create new cloud-specific regulations. This is essential as on-premises services migrate to the cloud and allow for maintaining visibility and safeguarding enterprises from attacks while providing safe employee access.

How CASBs Work to Ensure Cloud Access Security

A cloud security broker can use a variety of security policies to increase effectiveness, including single sign-on (SSO), authentication, authorization, device profiling, credential mapping, encryption alerting, tokenization, malware detection, and more.

CASBs provide visibility and fine-grain control over data to meet security standards. The three pillars of a CASB are:

  • Discovery. CASBs use auto-discovery software to create a list of cloud services and their users.
  • Classification. Once there is an understanding of the cloud usage, CASBs then use a classification method to determine what each application is, what data is used, and how it is shared.
  • Remediation. After a risk assessment has been conducted on each application, the CASB uses the information to set policies for data and user access and meet security requirements automatically.

CASBs have enabled enterprises to gain visibility into the cloud and SaaS usage. As many businesses have moved their storage from on-premises to the cloud, CASBs have been able to protect the movement of data by restricting and monitoring access and sharing privileges. Additionally, CASBs work with encryption to secure data while offering additional layers of security through malware protection.

CASB Benefits and Structure

CASBs offer a variety of unique security features when compared with other enterprise application firewalls or secure web gateways. CASBs utilize the following to maximize enterprise security:

  • Data loss prevention protocols 
  • Cloud governance 
  • Risk assessments 
  • Threat prevention 
  • Configuration auditing 
  • Malware detection
  • Data encryption and key management 
  • Contextual access control 
  • SSO and IAM integration 

The components that work together to create the structure of CASBs include visibility, compliance, data security, and threat protection. 

Visibility is essential across both managed and unmanaged devices. Rather than a strict “allow'' or “block” classification, cloud brokerage allows IT personnel to allow specific services and govern access to other activities. CASBs are also especially useful in helping administrators discover what cloud services are being used. They can also provide reports on cloud expenditure and find system redundancies.

Compliance is the second major aspect of CASBs architecture. Compliance standards help ensure the security of personal and corporate data. Without strong compliance standards, costly breaches can occur. Regardless of the type of compliance that your business requires—HIPAA, HITECH, PCI, FFIEC, or FINRA—CASBs can help keep your organization safe and secure.

CASBs utilize sophisticated DLP detection mechanisms that include digital fingerprinting and context sensitivity (activity, location, and which user is accessing the data). If sensitive data is discovered, CASBs offer the opportunity to move this sensitive data to an on-premises system for further analysis.

The final essential element of CASB structureis threat protection. Often, threats are introduced into the organization unknowingly by employees through vectors such as cloud storage and sync clients. CASBs can scan and remediate threats through internal and external networks in real-time when employees attempt to share potentially dangerous files.

Synopsys, EDA, and the Cloud

Synopsys is the industry’s largest provider of electronic design automation (EDA) technology used in the design and verification of semiconductor devices, or chips. With Synopsys Cloud, we’re taking EDA to new heights, combining the availability of advanced compute and storage infrastructure with unlimited access to EDA software licenses on-demand so you can focus on what you do best – designing chips, faster. Delivering cloud-native EDA tools and pre-optimized hardware platforms, an extremely flexible business model, and a modern customer experience, Synopsys has reimagined the future of chip design on the cloud, without disrupting proven workflows.


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About The Author

Sudesh Gadewar is group director of Information Security at Synopsys and leads the Information Security Architecture and Engineering team globally. Sudesh has 15+ years of experience in security where his passion is in both the offense and defense of security. Sudesh leads Synopsys' cyber security engineering and architecture efforts focused on secure architecture on on-prem, cloud security, tooling, frameworks, automation and threat intelligence.
In his spare time, he likes to educate adults and kids about security and cyber security 101. Sudesh has presented at various conferences such as Cisco Live, DEFCON, Tech Summits and Meet Up to share best practices and new analysis around threats and information security.

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