June 1, 2024

min read

How CASB and DLP Work Together to Safeguard Data

Cloud computing has changed the way we work, and mostly for the better. Widely available cloud applications let us create new documents, access our existing files, and communicate with our coworkers from just about anywhere. However, cloud computing has also created new data security and privacy concerns. A comprehensive CASB DLP policy can help address these concerns and keep your organization’s data exactly where it belongs.

Cloud access security brokers (CASB) act as an extra layer of security between your employees and anything they access in the cloud. Data loss prevention (DLP) refers to a set of technologies that monitor file access and protect data, both in transit and at rest. With both of these tools at your disposal, you can protect your organization’s valuable data, and empower your staff to do the same.

Understanding CASB and its role in modern cloud security

Put simply, a CASB is a piece of software that acts as an extra layer of security between users and cloud apps. The exact functionality of a CASB depends on which one you use, but some common features include application monitoring, control over cloud sharing features, malware detection, and data encryption. A good CASB allows employees to access cloud services from almost any device or Wi-Fi network without putting sensitive organizational data at risk.

One major advantage of a CASB is that it can consolidate and enforce multiple cloud security policies and apply them to any kind of device. This means that you can use a CASB for company-issued devices, as well as employees’ personal smartphones and laptops.

The evolution of cloud access security brokers (CASB)

CASBs have been in use since the early 2010s. At first, they addressed the problem of “shadow IT,” where employees would sidestep organizational IT to use whatever cloud apps and services they liked. Early CASBs could monitor these apps and either allow or block them.

Since then, CASB functionality has evolved to include real-time visibility into user activities, access controls for individual apps, and advanced protection from both malware and potential threat actors. Modern CASBs provide more granular control over cloud usage, providing flexibility for employees without compromising data security.

Key functions of CASBs for organizations

CASBs can mitigate a variety of cloud security risks by providing the following functionality:

  • Shadow IT visibility: CASBs can monitor which cloud apps your employees are using, even if they’re not official company-issued apps.
  • Cloud usage management: Instead of banning all third-party apps outright, CASBs can grant employees access to certain cloud apps and features, while disallowing others.
  • Compliance enforcement: Companies that handle sensitive data must comply with certain regulations, such as the General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) and the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA). A CASB can ensure that data remains compliant, regardless of where employees access it from.
  • Data security protocols: A combined CASB DLP policy ensures that only authorized employees can access certain files, and that those files are encrypted, whether they’re on a company server or in an email attachment.

Diving deep into data loss prevention (DLP) strategies

DLP is not the same thing as a CASB, but the two complement each other in practice. Every protocol that keeps company data safe and private is a facet of DLP. This could be as simple as teaching employees a set of best practices or as complex as installing a security software suite on every company-issued device. A good DLP strategy can protect against both accidental data leakage and malicious cyber attacks.

How DLP protects sensitive information across environments

A good DLP solution offers a wide range of options for sensitive data. Rather than blocking access outright, DLP can track how employees access, modify, and share files. If the software detects anything suspicious, it can notify your IT or security team, or restrict the activity automatically. DLP can also handle encryption for sensitive files, whether that data is at rest or in transit.

How CASB and DLP work together for enhanced security

Ideally, CASB and DLP solutions should complement one another. CASB is primarily about visibility, whereas DLP is primarily about access. With CASB, you can see what your employees are doing in the cloud, and either allow or restrict functionality as needed. With DLP, you can identify and classify sensitive data, and determine how employees can use and share it.

A unified CASB DLP approach clarifies how employees handle sensitive materials, reduces the risk of data breaches, and ensures compliance with industry regulations.

5 best practices for implementing CASB and DLP in your organization

Implement a zero-trust approach

“Never trust, always verify” is the philosophy behind a zero-trust security approach. Zero trust models assume that any user could be a potential threat actor — even if they’re on a trusted machine, connected to trusted Wi-Fi, or employing trusted login credentials. You can implement CASB and DLP policies that require users to enter passwords and verify via multi-factor authentication (MFA). A zero-trust approach also goes beyond access, monitoring user and device behavior to detect potential threats and apply granular security controls.

Develop and enforce strong security policies

Early CASBs were primarily concerned with shadow IT, but modern systems offer nuanced control over a variety of different systems. You don’t need to completely lock down every file, but you do need to develop and implement intelligent and robust policies for data access, sharing, and protection. This means that you’ll have to determine which users can access, modify, and share data, and to what extent they can do so before warning bells go off. Review and update these policies regularly as your organization’s security evolves.

Educate employees on data security best practices

Humans are still your most powerful asset when it comes to cybersecurity. Teach your staff what constitutes sensitive information, and how they can protect it, both on company-issued machines and in the cloud. Keep employees apprised of your company’s best practices as they change over time.

Regularly monitor and audit cloud environments

Both CASB and DLP services let you continuously monitor and audit how employees access and share data in the cloud. Analyze these patterns for any irregularities or potential vulnerabilities. Over time, some of these services can also “learn” what typical data usage looks like, and automatically flag any suspicious activity. Irregular data retrieval could mean that an employee is not following your best practices — or that someone has compromised their account.

Leverage advanced threat intelligence

CASB and DLP solutions don’t eliminate the need for human oversight. One of the best ways to keep your organization’s data safe is to stay abreast of the latest trends in cybersecurity. From there, you can modify your protocols to better counter real-world threats. Lookout Threat Intelligence services are a good place to start.

Common pitfalls when integrating CASB and DLP

Ineffective security policies

Even with the assistance of CASB and DLP services, an administrator at your organization will ultimately set your data access policies. If those policies are too strict, employees won’t be able to access or share the data they need, when they need it. If those policies are too permissive, individuals may be able to view, modify, or copy data that they don’t need, or shouldn’t see. There is no perfect solution to this problem, but asking your employees directly which systems they need to access, and why, should clear up a lot of uncertainty.

Data classification errors

Data classification, whether by content, context, or user permissions, is usually a simple way to determine which employees can access which files and folders. However, data classification errors can happen easily. Employees could enter incorrect information, or an automated system could misidentify a file. Data classification errors can lead to files ending up in the wrong location, which means they’d also have the wrong permissions. You can minimize these errors by analyzing CASB and DLP output, seeing where the misclassification happened, and implementing a policy to correct the issue.


Cloud misconfigurations occur when vulnerabilities appear in cloud apps due to improper settings rather than actual problems in the code. Common cloud misconfigurations include granting basic users too many permissions, not storing credentials properly, and installing third-party plugins with weaker security protocols. A zero-trust access approach can mitigate many of these issues, as can manually configuring your app settings, rather than using the defaults.

Future trends in CASB and DLP technologies

Cloud-native solutions

As CASB and DLP solutions evolve, more and more of these services will run in the cloud, rather than on a physical machine in an office or server storage space. This means more efficient access for employees and decreased risk of system failure for organizations.

Zero trust architecture

At present, a zero-trust approach is an option in CASB and DLP systems. In the future, a zero-trust approach may well be the default. Continuous identity verification, regardless of location, offers employees convenience and flexibility with only a minimal imposition on their time. It’s also more secure for both company-issued and BYOD devices.

Machine learning and artificial intelligence

Machine learning (ML) and artificial intelligence (AI) excel at pattern recognition. By “learning” appropriate user behavior patterns, ML and AI technologies could improve predictive risk assessment, behavioral analytics, and automated security responses in CASD and DLP solutions. 

Safeguard your cloud data with a CASB

No matter where they choose to work, employees rely on cloud apps to stay connected to the data they need. To keep that data secure, a robust CASB DLP program is a necessity. To learn more on this topic, the Lookout e-book Safeguarding Cloud Data with CASB: 4 Key Questions to Consider is a great resource. In it, you’ll discover how to leverage both CASB and DLP, why real-time monitoring is vital to data security, and how to protect both company-issued and employee-owned devices.

If you’re ready to invest in a CASB with built-in DLP capabilities for your organization, then Lookout Secure Cloud Access has the features you need. With our CASB solution, employees can access cloud apps wherever and whenever they need them. Organizations can classify, monitor, and safeguard sensitive data against both accidental leakage and malicious attacks. With Lookout Secure Cloud Access, you can empower your staff while keeping a close eye on your sensitive data.

Safeguarding Cloud Data with CASB: 4 Key Questions to Consider

Hybrid work increases cloud data risks. Traditional security fails, but the right CASB can protect you. Learn how to choose the best CASB solution.

Book a personalized, no-pressure demo today to learn:

  • How adversaries are leveraging avenues outside traditional email to conduct phishing on iOS and Android devices
  • Real-world examples of phishing and app threats that have compromised organizations
  • How an integrated endpoint-to-cloud security platform can detect threats and protect your organization

Book a personalized, no-pressure demo today to learn:

  • How adversaries are leveraging avenues outside traditional email to conduct phishing on iOS and Android devices
  • Real-world examples of phishing and app threats that have compromised organizations
  • How an integrated endpoint-to-cloud security platform can detect threats and protect your organization

Book a personalized, no-pressure demo today to learn:

Discover how adversaries use non-traditional methods for phishing on iOS/Android, see real-world examples of threats, and learn how an integrated security platform safeguards your organization.

Man pointing at laptop screen

Safeguarding Cloud Data with CASB: 4 Key Questions to Consider

Hybrid work increases cloud data risks. Traditional security fails, but the right CASB can protect you. Learn how to choose the best CASB solution.