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Cloud access security brokers team up with HP, Cisco

Cloud access security brokers Adallom and Elastica recently struck major partnerships with Hewlett-Packard and Cisco, respectively, to improve SaaS security and cloud visibility.

Cloud access security brokers have been thrust into the limelight after IT giants Hewlett-Packard and Cisco recently...

formed high-profile alliances with two leading CASB startups.

Last month during RSA Conference 2015 in San Francisco, Adallom Inc. and Elastica Inc. announced reseller and product integration partnerships with HP and Cisco, respectively. The moves highlighted the growing interest and potential market growth around the CASB space; in a report last fall, IT analyst firm Gartner predicted CASB technology will be "an essential component" of software as a service (SaaS) deployments and cloud application security by 2017.

A cloud access security broker typically offers a platform that sits between the enterprise and the cloud services it uses; the platform provides policy-based enforcement points and controls to ensure that public cloud applications like Office 365, Google Apps and Salesforce are being accessed and used properly through controls such as authentication, encryption, device profiling and logging.

HP was initially an Adallom client before deciding recently to both invest in the company via Hewlett-Packard Ventures and form a go-to-market partnership.

Under the HP-Adallom alliance, Adallom's platform will now be offered by HP as part of HP's Enterprise Security Products portfolio; in addition, Adallom's CASB technology has been integrated with HP security products such as the HP Atalla Information Protection and Control (IPC) suite and HP's SIEM product ArcSight.

Assaf Rappaport, co-founder and CEO of Adallom, based in Palo Alto, Calif., said his company will serve as the "cloud security extension of ArcSight." Specifically, data generated by Adallom's platform will be integrated with ArcSight's SIEM reports to give enterprise customers greater visibility to their employees' cloud app usage and activities.

For example, Rappaport said, one customer discovered after introducing the Adallom platform that 30% of its employees were designated as administrators and had privileged access to the company's SaaS accounts; the company determined that number was far too high and exposed it to potential security risks and abuse.

Rappaport said another Adallom client discovered that 9 million corporate files were made publically available through cloud apps to third parties outside the enterprise. Adallom helped the customer reduce that number to just 19,000 public files. "That's a real reduction in the attack vector and enterprise risk," he said.

Elastica struck a similar partnership with Cisco; the alliance includes a reseller agreement where Cisco will offer Elastica's CloudSOC CASB platform to enterprise customers. In addition, CloudSOC will integrate with Cisco products such as Cisco Cloud Web Security and Web Security Appliance to provide in-depth analysis for each cloud application, whether it's an approved app by the IT department or it's a shadow cloud app.

Rehan Jalil, president & CEO of Elastica, said traditional information security technology such as firewalls have no real use or relevance in providing security for SaaS and cloud applications, because the applications don't reside in the customer's infrastructure and, therefore, don't have the visibility into what's going on with these apps.

"Enterprises are very concerned about their lack of cloud visibility," Jalil said. "Cisco sees the [CASB] space as a very fast-moving trend with the growth of cloud applications and shadow cloud use."

Instead of acting like traditional information security products, which scan for malware and attack techniques, Jalil said Elastica's platform focuses on user activity and SaaS account usage patterns. "It's more of a machine learning system -- we look at all the activity and transactions for all of the user accounts to find potential threats," he said.

In addition to CloudSOC, Elastica's Securlets, which are stand-alone APIs that are designed to provide enhanced security to specific public cloud apps, will also be offered by Cisco and will complement Cisco's Web security products.

Both Elastica and Adallom predict 2015 will be a breakthrough year not only for their companies but for the CASB market in general. Jalil said larger enterprises with extensive SaaS deployments are most interested in CASBs and are the quickest to understand the value of the technology. "I just met with a company that has 35,000 people and they have seven or eight cloud apps that they know about, and probably more that they don't," Jalil said. "When you add all of that up, that's a lot of users, accounts and activity to keep track of."

Rappaport said the CASB space is gaining momentum with enterprises because it resides in the intersection of two other fast-moving markets: cloud and security. "The sales cycles are getting shorter," he said. "It takes less time to explain the value proposition because people are starting to understand what CASB is."

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