In this series of educational posts, we’ll demystify some common terminology used in the cybersecurity world, starting with one of the most basic questions: what is cloud security?

Cloud security is a subcategory of cybersecurity. It is a broad term that can include security policies, technologies, applications, and controls that are used to protect sensitive company and user data wherever it is exposed in a public, private, or hybrid cloud environment. 

Like many technical terms, cloud security (and “the cloud”) can mean different things to different people. In some cases, the general term “cloud security” might refer to the tools and practices used to provide web application security for cloud-based applications, or it could refer to securing an organization’s access to the cloud — what is referred to as a “cloud access security broker” (CASB).

At Cisco Umbrella, we use the term “cloud security” to describe our cloud-delivered Security-as-a-Service (SaaS, or, to prevent confusion with software-as-a-service: SECaaS). Umbrella delivers the functionality of an on-premises security stack from the cloud, anywhere it is needed, without the need for on-premises security appliances. This type of cybersecurity is ideal for organizations of any size that have cloud-based infrastructure, multiple offices, remote and roaming users, or company data stored in cloud applications.

OK, so what is cloud-delivered security? Cloud-delivered security provides users with protection from persistent online threats like malware and ransomware. As more companies move to using cloud infrastructure, the attack surface increases exponentially, and there are many more opportunities for sensitive data to be compromised by attacks. Users are also more vulnerable to attacks due to the increasing popularity of cloud applications, as well as direct internet access (DIA) for remote and roaming users who bypass the safety of the VPN.

In the on-premises world, the initial setup of an office requires large capital expenses for a new data center, as well as continual hardware upgrades for on-premises hardware as the company grows. Along with acquiring and provisioning new hardware, the on-premises security stack needs to be built, maintained, and continually monitored by cybersecurity experts — all of which can cost a lot of money! 

With cloud infrastructure, companies can avoid a huge initial budget outlay when opening a new office. Rather than purchasing and running their own hardware, companies can subscribe to cloud computing resources and pay based on usage. Using cloud-based security may also reduce the need for a team of on-site security experts.

Cloud-delivered security services provide continuous protection without the need for downtime or manual patches and updates. Security databases are constantly being updated to provide up-to-date security coverage. You can also deploy cloud security more quickly than traditional on-premises network security. Since user and policy management and network monitoring are performed in the cloud, provisioning can be done more quickly. Instead of having separate security infrastructures for different layers, cloud security combines all elements and data in one place.

The Cloud Security Alliance (CSA) is an organization that is dedicated to defining and raising awareness of best practices in cloud security. The CSA has defined the following categories of cloud-delivered Security-as-a-Service products:

  • Business Continuity and Disaster Recovery (BCDR or BC/DR)
  • Continuous Monitoring
  • Data Loss Prevention (DLP)
  • Email Security
  • Encryption
  • Identity and Access Management (IAM)
  • Intrusion Management
  • Network Security
  • Security Assessment
  • Security Information and Event Management (SIEM)
  • Vulnerability Scanning
  • Web Security

Cisco Umbrella, leading the way in cloud security

Cisco Umbrella unifies multiple security services in a single cloud platform to secure access to the internet and control cloud app usage anywhere users go. It integrates secure web gateway, cloud-delivered firewall, DNS-layer security, and cloud access security broker (CASB) functionality for the most effective protection against sophisticated threats.

Cisco Umbrella uses Anycast routing, which allows our 30+ global data centers to identify themselves with the same IP address. This ensures that your internet traffic has the shortest possible journey to and from Umbrella based on network topography and where your device is located, which means no added latency. Umbrella also securely encrypts your traffic. We update Umbrella’s threat monitoring and interactive intelligence continually with data from Cisco Talos, one of the largest commercial threat intelligence teams in the world comprised of world-class researchers, analysts, and engineers. Your users will be protected everywhere and stay productive, too.

Interested in learning more? Check out our website for more information about how Cisco Umbrella delivers security to your users from the cloud.

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