Big News Day: Securing The Cloud Applications

Posted: Jan 29 2014, 2:45am CST | by , in News | Technology News

Big News Day: Securing the Cloud Applications
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The cloud application analytics space is gaining significant attention at the moment. Not surprisingly given how prevalent cloud application use is within enterprises. Both Netskope and Skyhigh Networks have news coming out today – these companies both deliver variations on a theme, they’re focused on making enterprises happier to use cloud applications by giving them insights into what applications are being used within an organization, how they’re being used and automatically generating insights to help resolve problems before they arise.


Netskope is releasing its new product, Netskope Active, a solution that promised to deliver Data Loss Prevention (DLP), encryption of data and detection of unusual usage patterns (anomaly detection in the lingo of the industry). Netskope is pitching the solution at enterprise IT and promising that it helps central IT to “unmask shadow IT usage and establish policies to protect sensitive information”. Netskope rightly points out that most enterprises do not actually know which of their data resides in the cloud, and with which vendors. This assertion is borne out in my conversations with IT practitioners who often tell tales of woe about the number of rogue applications that are in use within their organization.

Netskope Active can identify all applications running in the enterprise regardless of whether users are on the network or remote, on a PC or mobile device. All applications are then analyzed by Netskope’s Cloud Confidence Index, which is a database of 3,000 apps that Netskope has classified according to their “enterprise readiness”. This classification has been built with criteria from the Cloud Security Alliance. Priced on an annual subscription basis, Netskope is also offering:

  • Active Encryption (offered in Spring 2014) Encryption management that can be applied broadly or in a context-specific way. IT can manage encryption keys on-premise or in the customer’s tenant instance in the cloud, and can manage those keys within corporate policies such as key rotation and expiry
  • Context-Aware Anomaly Detection helps IT and security professionals identify previously unknown behaviors that signal a potential data breach. Netskope provides a set of pre-defined Anomaly Detection templates as well as the ability for customers to quickly and easily build their own

Skyhigh Networks

Skyhigh also has new today, in their case it’s the announcement of a new program, the Skyhigh CloudTrust program which is an assessment of particular cloud service capabilities. This assessment has (coincidence here) been crated based on criteria from the Cloud Security Alliance. The program assesses 50 different criteria including data protection, identity verification, service security, business practices, and legal protection. According to the company several vendors have already been clasified as “enterprise ready” including Adobe Echosign, Appcelerator, BambooHR, Box, CollabNet, DocuSign, Gainsight, Host Analytics, HubSpot, Informatica, Marketo, Okta, ProofHQ, Salesforce, WorkDay, Yesware, and Zuora.

It would be easy to dismiss Skyhigh’s news as simply an announcement of something that either 1) they already should have been doing or 2) that their competitors have been doing for awhile already. While arguably that is the case, it can’t be denied that providing an easily understood classification for applications is a valuable service. It was interesting to hear how global data center operator Equinix is using the program to essentially outsource due diligence on applications to Skyhigh. According to Equinix’s global information security officer, George Do, the company receives specific risk ratings for each service they’re looking at. And like other outsourcing operations, this one has it’s benefits:

Having those ratings from a source we can trust means we can cut down time spent onboarding a new cloud service to 3-4 hours. It has allowed my team to become far more efficient, and I love the fact that Skyhigh continually updates its ratings because we would never have time to go back

As an aside it’s interesting to hear the results Equinix saw when using the entire Skyhigh platform. The company signed up to Skyhigh to discover the true scope of its cloud services footprint. Do’s team collected data for network traffic from firewalls and proxies and uploaded it to the Skyhigh platform. According to Equinix, using Skyhigh they discovered more than 200 cloud services in use, including many that they had not been aware were in use or even existed.


Both Skyhigh and Netskope are providing an important service and, given the amount of SaaS adoption globally, there’s more than enough customers for both of them to be successful. Fundamentally the problem these companies are trying to solve is a real one, and if in doing so they make enterprises a little more relaxed about using cloud – then that’s a win all around.

Source: Forbes

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