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Alternatives to CASB for SaaS Security

Oct 17, 2022

Oct 17, 2022

4 min

CASBs present some drawbacks. CISOs, information security managers, security architects, and security teams should consider alternatives to CASBs that may be more advantageous before making using one.

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Alternatives to CASB for SaaS Security
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Shadow IT is not a new phenomenon, but it is becoming more acceptable and necessary as companies realize that a decentralized technology acquisition model, also known as business-led IT, has many benefits. Not surprisingly, this has led to an increase in recent years of business leaders, not central IT making the technology purchase decisions, which is frequently a SaaS service. One study found that business-led IT budgets in many large organizations make up 30 to 40% of the company’s total  IT budget. 

As enterprises increase the number of SaaS apps used, it’s increasingly important to address the security risks this creates. One such approach is to use a cloud access security broker (CASB). While this strategy offers several benefits, it also presents some drawbacks. CISOs, information security managers, security architects, and security teams should consider alternatives to CASBs that may be more advantageous before using one.  

What Does a Cloud Access Security Broker Do? 

When cloud computing first started, IT teams faced one of the most significant challenges: managing data not stored on hardware but housed on software supervised by another party. CASBs were a solution to this issue. They gave enterprises the level of control and oversight necessary to protect and monitor corporate information. 

CASBs derive their name from their purpose. They provide a system for enforcing and applying security guidelines that brokers the connection between cloud services and end users. CASBs may dwell on-premises or reside in the cloud and synthesize various aspects of security policy enforcement, including, but not limited to: 

  • Alerting 
  • Authentication
  • Authorization 
  • Credential mapping 
  • Device profiling 
  • Encryption 
  • Logging 
  • Malware identification and prevention 
  • Single sign-on 
  • Tokenization 

Why Use an Alternative to CASB? 

When CASBs were first introduced, cloud services were a relatively new concept. Businesses were unsure how to navigate these systems, and CASBs were beneficial because they enabled IT teams to better understand shadow IT. 

However, technology is ever-changing, and organizations are more practiced in SaaS as virtually every company uses it for operations. While CASBs have developed in response to the growing volume of SaaS applications, their main SaaS detection method is using network flow data, and they take months to deploy. As a result, even the leading CASBs are limited in what they can detect, and they are unable to effectively enforce data security policies on unmanaged devices or those not connected to the corporate network. The following are some reasons CASB fails and why your business may contemplate a different method: 

Restricted to Protecting Pathways 

CASBs are designed to secure approved SaaS app use conducted on managed devices through secure web gateways, not employees working off the corporate networks. 

Cannot Properly Assess Certain Risks 

CASBs often neglect SaaS applications accessed that are not in its database. This means it might block SaaS it does not fully understand, such as a new SaaS app or a personal app, even though it does not violate any policies.

Has Not Adjusted its Concept of SaaS 

Many enterprises can have hundreds of applications, most of which are outside of IT’s jurisdiction. CASBs have an antiquated view of SaaS and and have a block first mentality, which does not address the security risks associated with the SaaS application itself.

Does Not Factor in the Entire SaaS Lifecycle 

CASBs do not consider SaaS used in the past and are unaware of items like zombie accounts and duplicate passwords, making it incapable of off-boarding most SaaS users and decommissioning most SaaS apps when they are retired.

SaaS Security Control Plane (SSCP) as an Alternative 

When considering the pros and cons of CASB for SaaS security, you may discover that the approach will not serve your organization’s needs. Thankfully, several alternatives to CASB exist, such as a SaaS security control plane (SSCP). This method features a more effective design for security architecture in the modern world. 

SSCPs take a completely different approach, which is an identity-based access control method.  It integrates with identity and access management (IAM) systems to establish the user and authentication mode and monitors every SaaS application for account creation triggers based on a user's identity.   This new approach is 5X more accurate than what a CASB delivers, and requires no agents, secure web gateway/proxy or API integration. They enable IT and other teams to detect, prioritize, secure, and orchestrate SaaS protection across various systems and control points, including primary IT and business-led SaaS. Other benefits of SSCPs include: 

  • Measuring risks of business-led IT and monitoring progress over time 
  • Eliminating CASB blind spots 
  • Providing protection throughout the SaaS lifecycle 
  • Eliminating agent intervention 
  • 10 minute deployment
  • Integration with existing security products to augment SaaS security 
  • Making internal controls operational for distributed SaaS acquisition 
  • Saving companies money on single sign-on (SSO) by reducing the number of apps 
  • Reducing SaaS risk by clearly prioritizing apps to put in SSO based on risk
  • Minimizing team workload and tedious tasks through automation 
  • Tracking and monitoring shadow IT and automatically l 

CASB vs. SSCP – Which Is Best? 

While CASB has been around for a long time, its failure to modify its approach to SaaS security, given rapid business changes, may prove ineffective for your enterprise. SSCPs take a modern approach for companies needed to respond to reduce the risk related to SaaS.

Whereas CASB are great for monitoring network data, it cannot easily operationalize and enforce SaaS risk policies. A big disadvantage is the built up SaaS risk that already exists.  Because they rely on network flow data, they cannot detect SaaS that is already in your enterprise or were used in the past but are now dormant. 

SSCP factors in the entire SaaS lifecycle. It facilitates processes like employee offboarding, which may lead to dangling access to apps. SSCP is also not limited to securing just the pathways but instead allows enterprises to maintain security for all applications — whether sanctioned or unsanctioned — or any device — whether managed or unmanaged. 

Using an SSCP as an Alternative to CASB

If your organization is considering a CASB or does not have actionable insights from an existing CASB, turn to Grip and consider an SSCP solution first to help you understand the SaaS risk in your enterprise. In addition to offering an accelerated installation time, we also provide the fastest return on investment — you can reap the benefits of SSCP within one day.  

Our solutions may be integral to the success of the security measures at your business. To learn more about our product or to gain answers to any questions, download the datasheet today. 

Interested in a demo to see how an SSCP can help your SaaS security program?  Sign up here.

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