As the story goes, Gordias was declared king after an eagle landed on the ox cart upon which he had ridden into town — since this had been prophesied. His son Midas, so proud of his father, dedicated the ox cart and tied it to a post with a knot so intricate that no one could untie it. That is until Alexander the Great came along and simply sliced the knot in half to produce the ends.
Now a legend, the Gordian Knot is now used as a metaphor for an intractable problem that cannot be solved without thinking outside of the box.
In the world of CASB there are similar challenges, but none as perplexing as how one deals with the unsanctioned instances of sanctioned apps. Let’s say that again, but more deliberately. Let’s say you’ve decided to rollout Box, or OneDrive, or Dropbox, or you name it. To do that you stop blocking the domain at your firewall or web proxy. “Excellent!” you say, and then you start administering the app, implementing proper controls. Heck, you’re even using a CASB that lets you inspect content with DLP policies, control access, and so on. It’s all good, right?!
Yes, but there’s a catch.
For every sanctioned app there are personal instances also in use. In fact, the ratio of corporate instances to personal instances is nearly one for every three users of a sanctioned version of the same app. That’s right, every third user on your sanctioned app ALSO has a personal instance of the same app that they just don’t feel compelled to tell you about. Not that they got it to be nefarious, but they just have it — maybe from a previous life, for their family photos, stuff they’ve taken from previous jobs to re-use — who knows… It’s a personal account.
And right there, my friends, is your Gordian Knot. You’ve sanctioned it, you’re governing it, you’re inspecting content going into it… but you’re doing that for only one of the thousands of instances that are roaming around in your enterprise. And so what’s to prevent someone from downloading content from your sanctioned / corporate instance and instantly uploading it to their personal instance? Not much… and now you can’t block it, because you’ve sanctioned it… and the firewall, proxy, or CASB 1.0 solution you have can’t help you either — because they can’t distinguish between instances.
At Netskope we took a look at this Gordian Knot from the very beginning and knew that without awareness of the instance (corporate vs. personal), it would go unsolved. That’s why the patented Netskope Context Engine was built with this dimension in mind, and is why many customers have chosen Netskope. Looking at this in the Netskope Active Platform you can see right away that we allow you to set policy at the instance level:
Want to stop personal usage completely? You can do that. Want to just prevent uploads to those instances so that people can still access their family photos? You can do that too. Govern the corporate version … and the personal version of that app you’ve decided to sanction.
So, if you’re in the process of rolling out an app and making it your corporate standard, ask yourself how you’re going to govern personal instances and check out Netskope. If you can demonstrate that you’re able to solve the Gordian Knot of CASB use cases, you’ll come out a hero. And, while people might not call you “Alexander the Great,” being told you’re “great” isn’t half bad, right?!
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