Don’t Let Collaboration Apps Be a Pain in the SaaS

Dec 09, 2021
5 minutes

During Ignite ‘21, our premier cybersecurity event, we discussed how radically our world has changed in a relatively short period of time. Our sessions took a close look at how world events have made a concerted impact on where and how we engage with different cloud applications and networks. We focused on how our approach to security needs to evolve to include modern cloud-based collaboration apps.

We have an unquestionable reliance on networking infrastructure and the cloud to work wherever we are. This means that organizations are no longer the stewards of only the networks they build and manage within their facilities. Today, organizations are managing and securing home and community networks along with their corporate networks and branch-based networks. These networks are built and supported by a collection of on-premises and cloud-based technologies, resulting in a complicated network to manage, let alone secure.

Within these networks live thousands of applications and terabytes of data accessed daily by the people who need them to do their jobs and live their lives. While IT administrators in the “before times” preferred that these applications and data lived within their organizational data centers for better control and management, this control-freak dream proved unscalable, unmanageable and untenable. The immediate disbursement of employees within a few global offices to thousands of one-person offices meant organizations needed to embrace a model that included cloud-based collaboration applications.

The Hybrid Workforce Requires a Hybrid Network Environment

The immediate shift to a remote workforce required organizations to embrace software-as-a-service (SaaS) applications. Analyst firm, Gartner, indicates that SaaS application growth is forecast to reach $122.6 billion by the end of this year.

Deployed from the cloud, SaaS applications made it faster, more convenient and cheaper for IT teams to give employees access to their common office productivity or business management applications. It was simpler than if they built out the remote access network infrastructure with more hardware to support thousands of employees tunneling into network resources via VPN.

In addition to the core productivity and business applications, organizations also adopted a raft of collaboration apps like Zoom, Slack, Teams and Confluence as a virtual replacement for meetings and cross-cubicle conversations. These new applications provided even more complexity to an already complex network.

A hybrid network environment complicates things for more than just the network administrators. The security team also needs to secure the application, and compliance teams need to ensure data is protected.

Collaboration Apps — A Royal Pain in the SaaS to Secure

Today’s collaboration apps have completely altered how we conduct business and how employees communicate with one another. Communication between employees is made of shorter, more frequent messages.

These messages typically consist of multiple posts among two or more people sharing pictures or screenshots to quickly convey ideas and information. This evolution from single text-based only communications, like email, has caused data to be far more unstructured. The result is that traditional data protection cannot identify context in mixed conversations, leaving organizations and their sensitive information ripe for the picking.

To secure SaaS applications, their use and protect data within them, organizations have typically turned to cloud access security broker (CASB) solutions. CASB products were designed for businesses to identify and control apps in use, discover and secure sensitive data within these collaboration apps, and protect SaaS apps from threats.

While these primary goals of CASB haven’t changed, the scope, scale and pace of SaaS adoption, usage and reliance have all changed dramatically with today’s hybrid workforce. Traditional CASBs were built for a time when SaaS was a smaller segment of an organization’s application mix, more heavily controlled and sanctioned by IT. Today, there are hundreds to thousands of new SaaS applications, a whopping 288 on average per organization[1], making it impossible for IT teams to monitor and manage them with human effort alone.

It’s Time to Cover Your SaaS

Legacy CASB products require a ton of manual intervention to add and control new applications, let alone adapting their protections for new threats or data protection associated with these applications. They are notoriously complicated to adopt, deploy and integrate with the rest of your security stack, and rely on multiple on-prem components.

Even when they are deployed, security and visibility are not always available. What’s more, as threats continue to become more sophisticated and leverage advanced techniques, disjointed and siloed solutions that only deliver “check box” capabilities, such as traditional CASBs, put your entire business at risk. How do you determine the efficacy of your CASB malware detection compared to your network, endpoint or cloud malware detection?

That's why we introduced our Next Generation CASB with Prisma Access. It overcomes the limitations of legacy CASBs, using machine learning (ML) to automatically discover and secure all applications, no support tickets and hail Mary’s needed. It accurately protects sensitive data in real-time, including confidential conversations through modern collaboration apps, using an enterprise-grade DLP, and stops all known and unknown threats with the most effective and comprehensive security, period. Better yet, it’s the same trusted best-in-class security working to protect your corporate network, hybrid workforce, branches, clouds, and endpoints.

Because Next-Generation CASB is fully integrated into our Prisma SASE solution, we’ve made it even easier for organizations to consistently protect their data, applications and users across hybrid network environments while avoiding the complexity of managing multiple point products. This dramatically simplifies adoption while helping organizations realize significant savings in technical, human and financial resources.

Don’t just take our word for it. Check out all the Next Generation CASB highlights from Ignite and see for yourself why our SaaS security solution provides the most comprehensive visibility with complete and consistent security to keep your data, applications and users secure.


  1. 2020 Annual SaaS Trends, Blissfully Report

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