Announcement of McAfee CASB Connect Program highlights cloudy RSA for McAfee

Building on their cloud momentum after the integration of Skyhigh and their Security Cloud, McAfee also announced container support for their cloud workload security offering, and released a survey tracking trends in cloud usage.

At the RSA 2018 Conference in San Francisco, cybersecurity vendor McAfee made a series of announcements, all of which revolve around the cloud and their strategy for it, largely facilitated by their acquisition of Cloud Access Security Broker [CASB] Skyhigh, which closed this January. McAfee announced the McAfee CASB Connect Program, which the company is calling the industry’s first service that allows any cloud service provider or partner to quickly build lightweight API connectors to McAfee Skyhigh Security Cloud within days, without writing code. They announced that McAfee Cloud Workload Security now supports containers. These announcements came within a cloud context laid out in their third annual cloud adoption and security survey, which they also released at RSA.

The big takeaway from the survey is that while organizations increasingly rely on the cloud, fewer are employing a cloud-first strategy.  It examined 1400 organizations from 11 countries, including Canada, who were selected to create a profile where half had between 1000 and 5000 employees. A quarter below 1000, and a quarter above 5000.

“The big number here is that the number of companies with a cloud-first strategy was 65 per cent,  down from 82 per cent a year ago,” said  Vittorio Viarengo, Vice President of Marketing, Cloud Business Unit at McAfee, who came to McAfee from Skyhigh. “It reflects the move to more of a hybrid cloud strategy, as well as the swing of the pendulum to more of a middle ground, as IT professionals come to the realization that using cloud services still leaves them on the hook for a share of responsibility.” 59 per cent of respondents now report they are using a hybrid model. Hybrid usage also grows steadily with organization size, from 54 per cent in organizations up to 1,000 employees, to 65 per cent in larger enterprises with more than 5,000 employees.

The shift from cloud-first may also reflect the fact that while the security of the public cloud is less of an issue today  than it was several years back, one in four organizations in the survey that uses the public cloud said they had  had data stolen there. While 83 per cent store sensitive data in the public cloud, only 69 per cent trust the public cloud to keep their sensitive data secure.

While cloud-first is down, cloud use as a whole is now ubiquitous in the enterprise.

“97 per cent of enterprises now use cloud services, even though data Skyhigh compiled show there is a huge disparity between how many cloud services IT thinks they are using [80 or more] and the reality [over 1000],” Viarengo said. “IT is losing visibility and control and that’s what we try and give them back. The data from the report validate the strategy that SkyHigh had around the cloud. The acquisition of Skyhigh gives McAfee a huge strategic presence in the cloud, added to McAfee’s own great heritage on devices.”

The new McAfee CASB Connect Program is designed to amplify the capabilities of the McAfee Skyhigh Security Cloud. It lets customers and partners leverage McAfee’s open ecosystem approach, to easily and quickly use API integrations to extend McAfee’s security capability to any participating cloud service. 25 vendor partners are on board at the launch, and McAfee is confident that this number will expand – significantly. Launch partners include Box, Centrify, Dropbox, Egnyte, Okta, OneLogin and Project Smartsheet.

“This is something that we were going to execute on at Skyhigh ourselves,” Viarengo said. “While we supported major apps like Office 365, Salesforce, Slack and ServiceNow out of the box, customers and partners wanted to support many more applications than we did. McAfee, with their strong open ecosystem emphasis, provides much more wood behind the arrow.”

Viarengo said that the vendor partners involved either have an integration with McAfee which exists today, or one that will ship in the few months.

“That was a criteria to join,” he said. “We didn’t want just to produce a lot of names on a list. We also prioritized based on usage in the marketplace. However, there is a long, long tail of cloud services that deliver value to niche markets, that need the kind of unified service controls that we provide here. We expect this will grow like wildfire over the next year or so for this reason.”

CASB Connect enables the quick building of lightweight API connectors to McAfee Skyhigh Security Cloud to help secure any cloud service in the catalogue, and enforce the same set of security policies across all cloud applications.

“It’s a big advantage to customers and partners, because they will have the pierce of mind that their data will be protected across all the services that they use,” Viarengo said. He compared the program’s functionality to the standardization of electrical sockets across all voltages and currents.

“When you travel the world, everyone has electricity, but not the same socket,” he said. “Everyone has APIs, but they are all different. This program will allowsall cloud services to plug into the same socket. It will bring them all into our backbone, to provide one place to set a security platform for cloud services. Any partner or customer or service provider can use this, and in a couple hours, maybe a day at most, will be able to fully integrate.”

Viarengo emphasized that the other McAfee announcement of RSA, the addition of container support in McAfee Cloud Workload Security [CWS] v5.1, is guided by the same core tenets.

“With Skyhigh Security Cloud, we can cover the whole customer share of shared responsibility across SaaS and IaaS, with  a single solution to provide security on a single plane across SaaS and IaaS,” he said “With McAfee Cloud Workload Security, we prioritize workload protection with the same coverage and commitment to third parties and open standards.”

Viarengo said that while this solution initially was focused more around virtualization, based on where the market is, this was the time to add container support.

“Containers were a logical next step now, as they are being widely experimented with,” he said.

McAfee CWS v5.1 identifies and secures Docker containers, workloads and servers in private and public cloud environments. It can now identify Docker containers within five minutes from their deployment and quickly secure them using micro- and nano-segmentation.  The micro-segmentation enables  quarantining workloads or containers of concern with a single click.

McAfee CWS v5.1 will be available in Q2 of 2018.