As cloud computing gains traction, businesses are increasingly shifting their data and software to the cloud. This transition offers numerous advantages such as cost reduction, enhanced mobility, and seamless scalability.
Consequently, Software as a Service (SaaS) solutions like Dropbox and Evernote, as well as Bring Your Own Device (BYOD) policies, are becoming standard practices in the corporate landscape.
However, the cloud is not without its challenges. It raises concerns about data privacy, security, and residency. While avoiding the cloud altogether may not be the solution, it’s crucial to understand that you don’t have to compromise on these risks.
If you aim to leverage the benefits of cloud computing while ensuring the security of your data, here are five essential tools to consider.
Understanding Cloud Applications and Shadow IT
Before diving into the tools, let’s discuss the concept of “Shadow IT.”
The term “Shadow IT” refers to the use of IT systems and services without the formal consent or knowledge of the organization. Although not a new issue, it has become a heightened security concern due to the proliferation of cloud computing and the potential unauthorized use of SaaS applications.
This situation complicates matters concerning data security and privacy. Since the organization is unaware of these applications, it becomes challenging to enforce security policies to protect company data on these unidentified cloud platforms.
Three out of the five tools listed in this article aim to address this issue by offering features for detecting cloud applications.
Forcepoint, formerly known as Bitglass, offers transparent protection for your organization’s data across both desktop and mobile platforms. The solution aims to minimize the risk of data loss while maintaining data visibility, whether the data is stored in the cloud or on mobile devices.
Forcepoint, formerly known as Bitglass, integrates a variety of security features into one comprehensive package. In terms of cloud applications, it is proficient at detecting unauthorized usage and also offers the ability to encrypt data prior to cloud uploads.
Additionally, Forcepoint allows you to track your organizational data across the internet. This is especially useful when employees utilize personal file-sharing services. The platform also provides safeguards against the risks associated with lost or stolen mobile devices. Notably, Forcepoint can remotely erase data from mobile devices without the need for any additional software installations.
Netskope specializes in identifying and monitoring cloud applications and shadow IT activities within your network. The service keeps track of user interactions, sessions, and content sharing, offering in-depth analytics based on these metrics.
These analytics are designed to help you pose business or security-related questions to uncover vulnerabilities or opportunities. Additionally, Netskope’s analytics can generate a comprehensive audit trail to assist in resolving security issues.
Thanks to Netskope’s granular policy enforcement, you can permit employees to utilize their preferred cloud applications while restricting undesirable activities. This approach allows your team to continue leveraging cloud applications for enhanced productivity without sacrificing data security.
Lookout, formerly known as CipherCloud, offers a cloud security solution that focuses on data encryption and tokenization right at your organization’s gateway. Unlike previous services that aim to discover shadow IT, Lookout’s primary goal is to secure data within known cloud environments.
The software encrypts data during the upload phase and decrypts it during download. Importantly, the encryption keys for this process stay within your organizational network, ensuring that unauthorized users who access the data in the cloud will encounter only unreadable text.
Lookout also features built-in malware detection and data loss prevention capabilities. It offers specialized versions for popular cloud applications like Salesforce, Office 365, Gmail, and Box. Additionally, there is a customizable variant that can be configured to work with any cloud-based applications your business employs.
Okta stands apart from previous solutions by focusing on providing secure Single Sign-On (SSO) across cloud, on-premise, and mobile applications within your organization. Okta comes pre-integrated with popular business applications such as Google, Microsoft, and Salesforce.com.
The platform offers features like automated user management, mobile device and application support, multifactor authentication, and adaptable security policies.
Additionally, Okta includes audit logs that allow you to track user access to cloud applications. It also enables you to manage access policies centrally. Role-based administration is available, offering fine-grained control over Okta’s features and administrative rights.
Skyhigh Networks specializes in discovering, analyzing, and securing your organization’s use of cloud applications. By utilizing logs from your existing firewalls, proxies, and gateways, it can rapidly identify cloud applications used by your employees.
The platform then offers a customizable risk assessment of all active cloud applications. Skyhigh’s analytical tools can identify inconsistencies in your security policies and potential data leaks.
Moreover, Skyhigh Networks features 3-Click Security, which employs reverse-proxy technology to provide contextual access to the cloud. This allows for uniform policy implementation across multiple cloud platforms and enables direct cloud access without the need for VPNs or device agents. Additionally, Skyhigh can encrypt data and offer data loss prevention measures.
Each of the services discussed aims to address the data security challenges associated with cloud computing. However, the appropriateness of each solution for your organization will depend entirely on your specific security requirements and challenges.
If shadow IT is a concern, Netskope or Skyhigh Networks may be the right fit for you. On the other hand, if data encryption and traceability are your top priorities, Bitglass should be at the top of your consideration list.
It’s crucial to note that these services cannot resolve underlying issues that may compromise data security. If employees are using shadow IT cloud applications, it may be worth investigating the reasons behind their actions. Similarly, if employees are downloading business data to work from home, understanding their motivations could offer valuable insights.