IT Partner/ Blog/ Deploy and Manage Cloud App Security in Microsoft 365

    Deploy and Manage Cloud App Security in Microsoft 365

    #cloud security, #microsoft 365, #tenant security

    Before we jump into the cloud app security implementation or the management process, let's talk about the cloud app security; what it is, and why we need it. It’s a Microsoft cloud-based solution that gives you insights into suspicious user activities.

    You can generate an email and configure some remediations against security alerts based on the user's activities. Cloud app security is a requirement if you have been looking at implementing Microsoft 365, a cloud-based application, to protect your data and get insights into your security solutions. A firewall or IPS does not have the capability to give you insights on what users are doing in the cloud and how they are accessing or sharing the data with external parties.

    Cloud App Security is a complete framework that gives you insights on a user's activities. Firstly, you can get insights on the user's activities by having the discovery of your network. You can do the discovery by uploading your end user or firewall logs or the user activity logs to your server. You can do this in a one-time upload to get a snapshot report where you can see the sanctioned or unsanctioned applications being used by the users.

    Next, you have information protection based on the DLP policies in Microsoft 365 or Azure information protection policies to apply the production on your data in Microsoft 365. That includes the ability to encrypt the data in the cloud, or you can actually block access based on the DLP policies.

    Third is threat prevention, where you define the behavior-based activities and the alerts against, for example, users that are trying to download data from an unmanaged device, and what actions should be taken to stop users from downloading the data. You can suspend user accounts or you can ask users to sign back in to the application, or go with the security procedures you have in your company.

    Lastly is in-session control. This is a new-ish feature within the application that was announced 6 to 8 months ago. In-session control is where you have the users go through particular activities if they are trying to do something within these applications. For example, if a user is trying to share their data through OneDrive for Business with external parties, you can go in with the inspection controls to have the company policies on top of that to restrict the user from sharing data with third parties.

    Cloud app security architecture is the very first step in cloud app security. How it works is, you have a discovery component where you can have discovery of your network to see the sanctioned and unsanctioned applications. You can get this particular report by uploading your firewall logs and the one-time report, giving you this snapshot. Or you can have automatic log configurations that can upload the logs to cloud app security.

    We highly recommend that you use automatic firewall logs uploaded to the Microsoft cloud app security so you can have a continuous report on your end users' activities, and insights within your on-premises network as well.

    Once you have the insights on, the next step is the sanctioned and unsanctioned applications. In a recent survey, more than 80% of employees admitted that they were using unsanctioned applications within the infrastructure to do their day-to-day jobs.
    This means you have 80% risky users within the company that are using unsanctioned applications in doing their day-to-day job, which can cause data breach concerns for you and other security personnel.

    Within the cloud app security, the app connector uses APIs on the back end for your different third-party application integrations to give you insights from Salesforce. Or if you are using CRM or third-party SaaS applications, you can have the APIs integrate with them to get the insights of user activities within the third-party applications as well.

    Conditional Access is based on the Azure Active Directory, where you can have the conditional access policies in force on the end users for the cloud app security based on their activities. You can have the users sign back in or you can have user access blocked based on their activities. Another control within the cloud app security is the Policy-Based control, where you can have controls on the end users when they are trying to access the applications from an unmanaged platform, where you can enforce the user policy-based action controls on what the user can do from an unmanaged device versus the managed device in the organization. This is all being driven through the cloud app security policies.

    In order for you to deploy the cloud app security, there are four basic steps.

    1. You can have cloud app security as part of your E5 license, or you can sign up for a trial tenant.

    2. Once we have a trial tenant set up, you can upload your network firewall logs or you can have a manual logs uploader. (Again, we highly recommend that you upload configured automatic uploads of the logs.) This can be done directly through the firewalls or you can have a server on-premises that can collect the logs from all of your devices and then upload those logs to the Microsoft cloud app security.

    3. Once you have the logs uploaded, connect your sanctioned applications and block access to the unsanctioned applications. The Microsoft team of analysts has about 30,000-plus applications that are ranked based on their regularity requirements and security controls.

    4. Configuration of policies. By default, when you enable cloud app security, it gives you 10 built-in policies for your configuration, which gives you suspicious behavior of users, user sign-in from risky locations, and/or unexpected travel by the user.

    Within the discovery phase of the cloud, cloud app security gives you Shadow ID discovery. It gives a cloud application risk assessment and alerts on risky cloud usage.

    Shadow IT discovery is the usage of unapproved ID applications that are being used by end users.

    The cloud application risk assessment is based on ID security controls and the regulatory requirements of the company. It does have some policies from the Microsoft team of analysts as well that access each and every application against more than 60-plus controls from Microsoft to ensure whether this application is risky or safe to use within the organization. You can customize these particular controls based on your requirements on your security posture and it will give you the ranking and rating of the application, whether this application can be used within the organization or not. Or if it's risky, whether you want to allow this application to be used in your organization.
    With alerts on risky activities, you can configure the alerts in the Azure cloud app security. Alerts are generated on suspicious activities within five minutes of your users performing risky activities, like having unexpected travel to somewhere that is not possible, or downloading from Sharepoint or OneDrive from an IP from where the user never logged into Microsoft 365 before.

    Information protection is paramount. So once we have the discovery and the insights on, if we have some malicious activities or a user trying to download data or some other alert, you can apply automatic policies to protect the data or stop the user's behaviors; you can use the Microsoft 365 DLP policies or Azure information protection policy. This is where you can restrict downloading the data from an unprotected device or from a risky network (outside your company network). You can apply the Azure information protection to encrypt the data in the cloud, as well as the data that is being downloaded.

    Regarding threat detection, once you have the policies in force and information protection policies applied, you can remediate against those threats. In cloud app security, you can have automatic remediation against threats, and you can configure the policies and actions against them. And those actions can be applied based on your configurations; for example, if someone is trying to access data from a risky location, you can suspend that user.

    In-Session control is fairly new, having been released eight months ago. With in-session control you can define the user's behavior and if the user is accessing a certain application.

    When the user is performing some malicious activity within the application, you can block access or revoke access to that application. This can be achieved by integration with Azure Active Directory.

    Go to the Microsoft website and on the cloud app security portal, you can sign up for the trial. This allows you to experiment with the cloud app security and then you can modify it to your specific needs. Or you can have the cloud app security available as part of the Office 365 E5 license or the EMS licenses.


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