Securing your RIA’s cloud apps

June 23rd, 2021
Securing your RIA’s cloud apps

Are you aware of all the devices, apps, and other technology your staff use for work? From personal smartphones to social media apps and productivity software to mail services and personal cloud storage, it’s possible that the employees at your RIA firm are using devices, software, and services without the knowledge of management or your IT services provider.

The use of these unvetted solutions is referred to as shadow IT. While these seemingly harmless technologies help employees manage their time more efficiently, complete tasks faster, and communicate easily with coworkers and clients, using them without notifying IT comes at a price. Doing so exposes your RIA to a wide variety of risks, especially when sensitive data is processed in cloud-based apps or storage platforms.

With data breaches happening every day, it's crucial for financial firms and similar institutions to mitigate the risks of shadow IT. For RIA firms, it's not only important to protect data, devices, and applications, but it’s also necessary to configure and deploy security controls and policies to adhere to stringent regulatory compliance frameworks.

A cloud access security broker (CASB) like Microsoft Cloud App Security can help your firm manage these risks, meet regulatory compliance requirements, and more.

For RIA firms, it's not only important to protect data, devices, and applications, but it’s also necessary to configure and deploy security controls and policies to adhere to stringent regulatory compliance frameworks.

But first, what is a CASB?

A CASB is a security app that acts as an intermediary between users and cloud applications. It is essentially a control point for your IT team to monitor all cloud programs, apps, files, and data that your team uses or handles.

A CASB comes with a suite of security functions, such as:

  • Data loss prevention (DLP) – ensures that sensitive data across files, devices, and cloud apps and storage is not lost, misused, or accessed by unauthorized users
  • File-level encryption – translates data into an unreadable code that can only be read by users with a special encryption key, securing files before they even reach the cloud
  • Two-factor authentication – enhances the security of the user authentication process by requiring information beyond a simple username and password combination
  • Single sign-on – allows users to log in once and access multiple apps without needing to re-enter authentication factors
  • Access control – enables IT administrators to revoke access to files, devices, or accounts should an employee leave the company or should a device be lost or stolen
  • Auditing – lets IT administrators check if users are handling data on cloud solutions securely and take action on unauthorized activity
  • Enforcement – allows IT administrators to monitor user activity in real time, detect usage patterns, and identify unusual behavior

With a CASB, your IT team can identify, assess, and manage shadow IT, protect data in vetted apps, and mitigate various online threats.

Microsoft Cloud App Security

Microsoft Cloud App Security is a CASB that provides organizations with enterprise-grade visibility, control, and protection for all the cloud-based apps and services they use. It makes security easier and more transparent through centralized management and automation.

In particular, Microsoft Cloud App Security helps your IT team to:

1. Discover and control shadow IT use

Microsoft Cloud App Security has a catalog of over 17,000 public cloud apps. Your IT team can use this to discover which apps are being used by your team and the risk level of each. This makes it easy for your IT team to manage shadow IT and ensure the security and compliance of your firm’s cloud apps.

2. Safeguard your data in the cloud

With a unified and holistic view of your cloud apps, your IT team can easily manage data (whether at rest or in transit) in Microsoft Cloud App Security. They have the ability to search for sensitive files and then choose to control and protect them, keep them from being shared externally, or notify file owners if files are being shared inappropriately. Your IT team can also apply security controls across all your sanctioned cloud apps in real time.

3. Protect against threats

Threat protection from Microsoft Cloud App Security alerts your IT team of unusual behavior or risky activities in your cloud environment, allowing them to identify risks such as ransomware, compromised users, or rogue applications. It then helps them automate responses to incidents and limit the risks to your firm.

4. Assess the compliance of your cloud solutions

Like all Microsoft cloud products and services, Microsoft Cloud App Security is designed to address rigorous security and privacy demands. It can help your IT services provider assess if your cloud apps comply with relevant laws, policies, and regulations. The complete list of Microsoft compliance offerings can be found here.

If you need help in securing your cloud environment or want to learn more about Microsoft Cloud App Security, get in touch with our experts today. We can provide your small- to mid-sized RIA firm complete solutions for the security, support, and management of your IT infrastructure.