What is DSPM?

No matter the industry, organizations of all sizes are collecting, storing, and processing more data than ever before. Data management in the modern age requires new and comprehensive Data Security Posture Management tools and solutions that protect an organization’s assets—whether on-prem or in the cloud.

Coined by Gartner in April 2022, the term Data Security Posture Management (DSPM) refers to a set of techniques used by security and IT teams. These techniques aim to automatically identify and understand sensitive data, thereby reducing an organization’s risk of data leaks, compliance violations, and more.

DSPM is a crucial facet of contemporary data management strategies, especially as your business navigates the ever-expanding data collection, storage, and processing landscape. DSPM solutions safeguard your company’s assets and improve its cloud data security.

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Data Security Posture Management or DSPM refers to a set of techniques security and IT teams utilize to automatically identify and understand their sensitive data and reduce their organization’s risk of data leaks, compliance violations and much more.
Data Security Posture Management (DSPM) is a crucial facet of contemporary data management strategies, especially as organizations navigate the ever-expanding landscape of data collection, storage, and processing. DSPM solutions are vital for safeguarding an organization’s assets and improving its cloud data security.

Data security posture management is an emerging data security technology area, leveraging context-driven data discovery and classification to provide continuous insight into the security posture of data stores and associated misconfigured access privileges.

– Ralf Helkenberg, IDC Analyst

At its core, the primary objective of DSPM is to minimize and mitigate potential security risks associated with information leaks, compliance violations, the cloud, and various other security threats that may compromise the integrity of your organization’s data.

DSPM goes beyond identification and compliance. It actively supports incident response strategies to maintain a strong data security posture. In case of a security breach or data compromise, it empowers your security team to react promptly and effectively. A quicker response reduces the potential impact and facilitates a quicker resolution.

Download the DSPM Guide.

How Does DSPM Work?

DSPM focuses on an intuitive way to manage, assess, and prevent data loss at scale. At its fundamental essence, the strategy operates as a holistic approach that we call “Discovery Plus.” It combines data discovery with an array of security management capabilities that extend from automated alerting to effective remediation.

Data Security Posture Management represents an emerging market that revolves around the core concept of risk management. All businesses, regardless of size, must evaluate, comprehend, and address data security risks pervasive throughout their environment.

Data protection within a data governance, security, and compliance strategy starts with the foundational capability to understand, assess, and identify data risks. Sophisticated data discovery, classification, and mapping techniques allow businesses to gain insights into the intricacies of their data landscapes. Once a company understands the landscape, DSPM enables proactive risk identification. It leverages automated alerting systems to promptly detect vulnerabilities and potential threats and instantly optimize an organization’s data security posture.

The Importance of Data Security Posture Management

An organization’s overall health depends on several key factors — security posture is simply a critical piece of the puzzle. Without it, an organization can become susceptible to cyber attacks, data breaches, and audits that could result in heavy fines.

DSPM platforms help data security teams discover and understand their data, take actionable steps to protect or remediate it, and continually assess risk. Data protection is one of the most crucial aspects of any organization’s overall security posture and is no longer something a business can operate without.

DSPM is a continuous and dynamic process. These platforms are constantly adapting to evolving threats and vulnerabilities, which ensures that security measures remain effective and relevant in the face of emerging challenges. By adopting a proactive stance, you can head off potential threats and minimize the likelihood of data breaches and their impacts on reputation, financial stability, and legal compliance.

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How Can You Improve Your Data Security Posture? DSPM Use cases

While the most effective data security programs are tailored to the specific needs of your organization, several best practices can improve your data security posture no matter what scale your business is operating at.

Here are a few tried and tested ways to improve data security posture:

Know Your Data: You can’t protect what you don’t know — more than half of an organization’s data is often unstructured or unknown dark data. Data discovery platforms like BigID use ML data classification and advanced AI to uncover your data. Knowing the nature of your stored information allows you to accurately classify and provide context to all your sensitive information, wherever it resides. Then, you can implement appropriate security controls to protect it.

Reduce Your Attack Surface: Many businesses store far more data than they actually need or use. The more you store, the more you have to protect. Data without proper insight serves no purpose, but you can greatly reduce your attack surface and improve your organization’s security posture by deleting it.

Monitor Your Data: A system that carefully monitors your enterprise data from creation to deletion will give you customized data. A customized data inventory can help you track the data that is being created, accessed, and modified through its life cycle. This up-to-date data inventory provides clarity to the different stakeholders within your organization.

Difference Between DSPM and CSPM

Like DSPM, cloud security posture management (CSPM) provides security frameworks that protect your organization’s data. However, there are some differences between the two.

The Focus

While the former focuses on a broad view of an organization’s overall data security, CSPM specifically targets the protection of data stored in the cloud. CSPM also concerns itself with cloud configuration and management. However, as the name suggests, it’s more concerned with your cloud environment than strictly data protection.

DSPM helps you view your entire data security posture across all SaaS applications and various data repositories. On the other hand, CSPM considers cloud data stores as the top priority.

The Approach

Another difference lies in what each service concerns itself with. A data security posture management solution deals only with data. It will look at factors such as data encryption, classification, and access control. CSPM, on the other hand, will be more concerned with the security of the cloud, i.e., network security and cloud service configurations.

CSPM plays a critical role in assessing and managing risks within the cloud landscape. CSPM platforms offer security teams the tools to monitor, analyze, and secure data within the cloud, ensuring it remains protected against emerging threats and vulnerabilities unique to cloud environments.

You might need CSPM if your company uses cloud-based services, such as AWS, Microsoft Azure, or Google Cloud. However, if you store any data, you must prioritize security and should consider a holistic approach to data security. 

Both DSPM and CSPM remediate sensitive data, help achieve compliance, and provide more visibility into the unknown data storage of an organization At their crux, protecting data is the core capability of these security policies. These security tools provide the best coverage when used together. Without one or the other, critical locations might remain unprotected and therefore susceptible to breach or attack.

Improve Your Data Security Posture

The Key Capabilities of DSPM

There are fundamental DSPM capabilities that address the data security challenges effectively. Your security and risk leaders should vet potential DSPM providers to check if they can:

Find, Classify, and Map Sensitive Data Across Environments

Data security platforms should automatically discover, classify, and map both unstructured and structured data across diverse environments, including on-premises and cloud. This comprehensive approach provides a unified view, which allows security teams to manage data security more effectively.

Discover Dark Data, Shadow Data, and Unknown Data

DSPM solutions should automatically surface cloud data that might not be readily apparent, identify duplicate and similar data, recognize redundant, obsolete, and trivial (ROT) data, and highlight sensitive or critical information, such as regulated data, secrets, keys, intellectual property, and business data.

Manage Data Access and Exposure Risks

You must understand data access. DSPM solutions should enable organizations to identify who has access to specific data, recognize overexposed data, and monitor data sharing internally and externally. Incorporating access intelligence helps reduce insider risks, accelerate zero-trust initiatives, achieve least privilege, and enhance the overall security posture from an access perspective.

Alert on High-Risk Vulnerabilities and Critical Issues

Beyond visibility, tools for DSPM should automatically generate alerts based on risk levels, policy violations, and insider risks to accelerate the investigation process. That allows your security team to promptly respond to and mitigate security alerts and reduce overall risk.

Easily Report and Assess Risk

DSPM gives you the information you need to report on your organization’s risk posture, monitor improvements and issues, and track progress. Comprehensive data risk assessments, with granular and high-level reporting, are essential for maintaining a consistent understanding of data security.

Take Action

Understanding risk is not enough; DSPM solutions must advise you on remediation actions. The solution should:

  • Automate, guide, and orchestrate remediation for high-risk data
  • Trigger alerts based on activity while ensuring a non-intrusive approach
  • Remediate data security issues, reduce over-privileged data access
  • Enforce controls over sensitive data

Be Enterprise-Ready

A DSPM solution must be enterprise-ready and should provide robust security and scan management without disrupting business operations. To achieve more with less, it should  include:

  • Enterprise-grade security features
  • Role-based access control (RBAC)
  • Scoped-down roles
  • Iterative scanning
  • Seamless integration with existing technology stacks

DSPM Challenges

Implementing DSPM initiatives is not without its challenges, and organizations may encounter several pressing issues that can impede the success of these efforts, such as:

Lack of Visibility Into Where Sensitive Data Is Stored

One of the most significant data management challenges is the lack of visibility. Often, security and IT professionals won’t have access to proper context within an organization’s data stores. Without a clear understanding of what data is being stored, used and modified, they are left at a disadvantage. They may then have to spend several hours to manually discover their enterprise’s data.

Difficulty in Data Tracking

Human-centric monitoring and management cannot keep up with the sheer volume and velocity of data creation. With new data created each day, it can be nearly impossible to manually track and protect. 

Additionally, time is a resource many teams don’t have enough of. This makes it difficult to keep pace with the evolving data landscape. It also increases the likelihood of overlooking critical data assets that require protection. Without the use of automated data management platforms, you’d be working around the clock to ensure your data remains safe.

To address these challenges effectively, you need to recognize the necessity of automated data management platforms within the DSPM framework. Automation enables continuous monitoring, rapid detection of vulnerabilities, and swift response to emerging threats. Automated platforms alleviate the burden of manual labor and also enhance the accuracy and efficiency of data discovery and protection processes.

Safeguard Your Sensitive Data

DSPM Benefits

DSPM provides a wide range of benefits to organizations across all industries. Some notable upsides are:

Protect Sensitive Data and Reduce Data Risk

As a company, you must safeguard your data in the digital age. A data breach can lead to colossal financial losses, erosion of trust, and customer attrition. Compliance requirements surrounding regulated sensitive data, including Personally Identifiable Information (PII), Personal Health Information (PHI), and Payment Card Industry (PCI), add another layer of complexity.

The cloud does offer unparalleled flexibility. However, it introduces challenges in protecting sensitive data that often lead to inadvertent exposures. DSPM solutions uncover both known and unknown data. They help classify it, and continuously monitor its security posture. This proactive approach allows you to protect and prevent the exposure of your most sensitive information. It also helps avert potential fines and mitigate regulatory scrutiny.

Reduce Your Data Attack Surface

Unused copies and outdated versions of data present a significant risk within organizations. Whether created for testing, accidentally duplicated, or generated by third-party applications without explicit knowledge, these data duplicates increase the potential attack surface. A DSPM platform plays a pivotal role in automatically monitoring copies and versions of sensitive data. It discovers and classifies sensitive data across the cloud environment, verifies policy adherence, and offers remediation guidance.

Empower Value Creators

Traditional security approaches confined data within walled perimeters that were managed by gatekeeper-style security teams. However, the contemporary business landscape demands data democratization, which allows everyone to work with it, regardless of technical expertise.

DSPM solutions empower your security team to support data democratization efforts. The tools monitor for unauthorized access to sensitive data without hindering cloud performance. They also enable innovation across the “Innovation Attack Surface,” and foster a balance between enabling work and maintaining data security and compliance.

Achieve Faster Data Security and Compliance

Cloud compliance regulations can be a significant challenge for security teams. DSPM automates and ensures continuous cloud data security. It prevents security incidents by detecting and alerting whenever sensitive and regulated data violates data residency requirements. 

It further segments the environment based on data privacy requirements and business needs, turning data inventory and classification efforts into tangible compliance reports. This ensures you remain compliant with diverse regulations, proving your commitment to security to auditors and regulatory bodies.

Reduce Your Cloud Costs

Cloud providers charge users based on consumption, making unused data in the cloud a financial burden. DSPM addresses this issue by identifying duplicate, redundant, and abandoned data. It provides actionable remediation steps to eliminate unnecessary costs and risks.

By actively managing and optimizing data storage in the cloud, you can significantly reduce expenses associated with unused data, aligning cloud costs with actual utility and improving overall financial efficiency.

Why You Need a DSPM Solution

Data security risks have never been a greater threat to organizations than they are today. To innovate alongside the evolving technological and regulatory landscape, you require a new breed of data security solutions — one that offers unique visibility and control over the data that matters most.

Traditional approaches are no longer sufficient to tackle the multifaceted challenges posed by modern cyber threats. As a result, DSPM use cases have become harder to ignore. Unlike conventional security measures, DSPM tools go beyond mere identification and understanding — they empower businesses to actively manage and mitigate potential security risks.

As the volume and complexity of data continue to escalate, DSPM ensures the protection of your sensitive information and compliance with stringent data security policies and regulations. In a world where innovation and security must coexist, DSPM stands as a critical ally, providing the comprehensive security framework required to safeguard the integrity of an organization’s data assets.

BigID’s Approach to DSPM

The future belongs to those who can adapt to the evolving technologies and glean new insights from the data they are already collecting. BigID is a data intelligence platform for privacy, security, and governance that reduces risk, improves the security posture of the data, and orchestrates controls.

Our solution automatically identifies and protects sensitive and regulated data across the cloud, on-prem, and SaaS. It also offers data security posture management to mitigate the risk of unauthorized exposure and regulatory non-compliance.

Our intuitive platform allows you to gain complete visibility and control across all your data to assess and improve your security posture wherever your data resides. With BigID’s data-centric approach, you can automatically map, monitor, and remediate data under one platform.

Equip your organization with the critical capabilities of DSPM with BigID’s data discovery, user access maps, data flow tracking, protection against data exposure, and data security posture reports.

Reduce risk across your entire business with Big ID.

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