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SSPM vs CASB: Key Differences & Use Cases

Reco Security Experts
December 6, 2023
April 3, 2024
5 min read

What is a Cloud Access Security Broker (CASB)?

Cloud Access Security Broker (CASB) serves as a security gatekeeper of internet traffic between its own infrastructure and the cloud, identifying and stopping malicious activity before it escalates. It enables organizations to extend their security protocols to cloud platforms. CASBs provide visibility and control, and ensure security compliance by monitoring user activities, managing access, and offering real-time threat detection and response. This ensures a secure and compliant cloud usage environment, which is essential for confident and safe cloud adoption.

What is SaaS Security Posture Management (SSPM)?

SaaS Security Posture Management (SSPM) refers to the ongoing management and security of SaaS applications, specifically targeting and resolving security risks and misconfigurations. SSPM solutions improve the security posture of SaaS platforms with thorough monitoring, threat detection, and effective remediation, ensuring the safety and efficient performance of organizational applications and data.

CASB vs SSPM: Key Differences

CASB acts as a guard, checking everything entering - like data and apps - for safety. Its job is to prevent anything harmful from getting in. 

On the other hand, SSPM is the insider who keeps everything in check, focusing on things like app settings and configurations. It looks for overlooked issues, such as unused accounts or improper settings, to prevent hidden dangers. SSPM's detailed approach  ensures your cloud is secure in every aspect. 

While both CASB and SSPM are important for cloud security, they serve different purposes: CASB monitors what comes in and out, and SSPM ensures everything inside operates safely and smoothly. Understanding their distinct roles is key to fully protecting your cloud. 

The table below breaks down their main differences:

Aspect CASB (Cloud Access Security Broker) SSPM (SaaS Security Posture Management)
Configuration Management Ensures settings stay consistent across different cloud services, preventing configuration drift and maintaining security standards. Keeps configurations in SaaS applications consistent, monitoring for any changes that could lead to vulnerabilities and enforcing security measures to prevent them.
Deployment Works by checking the data and activities between users and cloud services at the network level. Directly integrates with SaaS apps for a more focused approach to security.
Customization Allows for many custom security rules for different cloud services. Provides custom features specifically designed for SaaS apps and their unique security needs.
Visibility and Control Gives a big-picture view and control over many cloud services at once. Offers detailed insights and controls, especially for SaaS apps, making it easier to manage their security.
Threat Detection and Response Can detect a variety of threats across many cloud services. Specializes in finding and responding to threats specifically in SaaS apps.
Scope of Security Policies Covers a broad spectrum of cloud services and platforms. Concentrates on security rules made just for SaaS apps.
Integration Complexity Might be complex due to the variety of cloud services it covers. Usually simpler to integrate because it specifically targets SaaS apps.
Network Traffic Handling Checks and controls data moving between users and services, covering many services. Works by connecting directly to SaaS applications, allowing for detailed control over app security.
Use Cases Good for organizations that use a mix of different cloud services. Best for businesses that mainly use SaaS apps for their work.
Compliance Coverage Helps meet a wide range of compliance requirements for various cloud services. Targets compliance controls and features specifically needed for SaaS apps.
User Authentication Manages how users get into multiple cloud services. Handles user access and control within SaaS apps, ensuring secure login and use.

How CASB and SSPM Work Together for Better Cloud Security

CASB and SSPM solutions don't compete but rather complement each other, teaming up to strengthen cloud security. Their collaboration enhances protection in these ways:

CASBs cover the broader cloud environment, focusing on:

  • Enhancing cloud activity visibility
  • Regulating access
  • Ensuring compliance with standards

SSPM targets SaaS application security, specializing in:

  • Customizing security for each app
  • Addressing specific SaaS-related issues

In action, CASBs identify general security threats or anomalies in the cloud. SSPM then takes a deeper dive into SaaS applications to directly address these concerns. This teamwork ensures not just surface-level security but also a deeper, application-specific defense, providing a more complete and effective cloud security solution.

CASB Use Cases with Examples

Let's look at how CASBs make cloud services safe and efficient with the following use cases:

CASB Use Case Example
Detecting Unauthorized Cloud Apps A CASB discovers an unapproved file-sharing app used by employees, leading the company to evaluate its security or provide an approved alternative.
Assess Risk and Compliance For a healthcare organization, a CASB evaluates cloud services for HIPAA compliance, ensuring secure and lawful handling of patient data.
Continuous Monitoring A CASB identifies unusual download activities in a company's cloud storage, quickly alerting IT of a possible data breach.
Secure Data on Unmanaged Devices When an employee accesses company email on a personal smartphone, the CASB enforces security measures like encryption.
Malware Detection and Remediation A CASB detects malware in a cloud-stored document, isolating it to prevent employee access and further malware spread.
User and Entity Behavior Analytics (UEBA) A CASB alerts on suspicious activities like an employee accessing company files at odd hours or from multiple locations.

SSPM Use Cases with Examples

Let's explore how SSPM tools enhance the security and efficiency of SaaS applications through these practical use cases:

SSPM Use Case Example
SaaS Application Discovery A company finds widespread use of an unauthorized project management tool through SSPM, leading to its security evaluation or replacement with a compliant alternative.
Data Security and Privacy A scan reveals a marketing tool storing data in violation of GDPR, promptly corrected by adjusting the tool’s settings.
Access Management New marketing employees receive role-specific SaaS access, while access to unrelated systems like finance is restricted.
Configuration Management An SSPM identifies file-sharing settings that allow too much access, changing them to control external data sharing without explicit approval.
Compliance Management A CRM tool update that does not comply with regulations is flagged by SSPM, disabling the feature until it is compliant.
Threat Detection and Response SSPM detects and blocks unusual login attempts to a SaaS application from foreign locations.
Audit Trail and Forensics Post-data breach, SSPM logs trace actions leading to the breach, aiding in identifying the source.
User Risk Profiling and Adaptive Access Controls An employee’s risky behavior prompts a review and adjustment of their access rights by SSPM.
Secure Collaboration Within SaaS Ecosystems SSPM oversees a cloud-based design platform to ensure sensitive files are only shared under strict data protection agreements.


CASB and SSPM each provide unique benefits in protecting against various threats. It's important for businesses to use both to effectively manage cloud security challenges. Together, they create a flexible and comprehensive security approach, ready to handle new cyber threats as they arise. As cloud technology changes, combining CASB and SSPM is key for strong, adaptable cloud security.

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