Palo Alto Networks unveils ML-powered cloud security platform

Palo Alto Networks on Tuesday unveiled a new cloud security offering, its Next-Generation CASB, which uses machine learning to strengthen the protection of software-as-a-service and collaboration apps.

The company’s next generation of CASB (Cloud Access Security Broker) platform will use ML and AI to provide features such as automatic application detection and improved data loss prevention for sensitive data, the company announced.

Next-Generation CASB is the latest product from the Santa Clara, California-based cyber company that gets a significant injection of ML- and AI-driven functionality, said Lee Klarich, Chief Product Officer at Palo Alto Networks, in a briefing with reporters.

AL and ML are now used “across our products,” Klarich said, pointing to other products such as Cortex, which use AI and ML to detect previously unknown malicious events and then automatically analyze them.

SaaS explosion

The launch of the new Palo Alto Networks CASB comes as the use of SaaS applications among companies continues to increase. The average organization now uses 110 SaaS applications, up from 80 last year, according to a recent report from SaaS management platform provider BetterCloud.

At the same time, security breaches related to SaaS files have increased 134% this year, the report found. And lack of knowledge about how sensitive data is, according to the results, is a widespread problem.

With its next-generation CASB, Palo Alto Networks aims to enable companies to tackle the SaaS security challenge with capabilities to automatically secure new applications, stop threats through detection and prevention, and protect key data in real time.

In terms of data protection, Palo uses Alto Networks ML to get better at detecting sensitive data, and doing so more accurately and quickly, the company said. The platform, which also uses AI features like natural language processing, can thus serve as a replacement for manual pattern-based detection, according to the company.

This enables Palo Alto Networks to deliver enhanced data loss prevention that protects against accidental or deliberate removal of sensitive data, said Anand Oswal, a senior vice president of the company, during the briefing.

Automatic app recognition

When it comes to securing new applications, Next-Generation uses the CASB offering ML to automatically detect and secure new SaaS applications in real time, replacing a previous manual process, Oswal said. This is crucial because it allows companies to keep pace with the continued growth in the use of SaaS applications, he said.

Critically, these protections have been extended both to web-delivered SaaS applications as well as to collaboration apps that have increased in use for hybrid work but are not adequately protected by existing CASB products that only work for HTTPS apps, Oswal said.

Ultimately, to counter the growing cyber threats in the cloud, “we as an industry must embrace and become really good at using automation,” Klarich said. “This can not be [about] human power. We need people to focus on the really tough projects – we can use automation to handle a lot of repetitive manual work that takes place in safety. ”

Palo Alto Networks said its next-generation CASB is expected to be available in January 2022. It will be available through the company’s Prisma Access 3.0 platform and all next-generation firewalls.


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