Do you know where your sensitive data resides? Securing data is impossible without first knowing its location, especially when dealing with critical business, customer, or regulated data. With the emergence of cloud technology, data can be stored almost anywhere, making it difficult to secure. Improving visibility is the initial step towards achieving a secure cloud data posture, which is known as Data Security Posture Management.
What is DSPM?
Gartner’s 2022 Hype Cycle for Data Security defines Data Security Posture Management (DSPM) as a set of processes, tools, and technologies that help organizations assess, manage, and optimize their data security posture. DSPM forms the basis of a data risk assessment to evaluate the implementation of data security governance policies.
In essence, DSPM is a proactive approach to managing data security that helps organizations identify and remediate vulnerabilities and misconfigurations before they can be exploited by attackers. By taking a holistic view of an organization’s data security posture, DSPM can help organizations better understand their overall risk profile and make more informed decisions about where to invest in security.
Why the introduction of DSPM?
As cloud data infrastructure continues to rapidly expand, enterprises are becoming increasingly aware of the risks posed by sensitive data. Existing solutions are struggling to keep up, leading to the emergence of DSPM. By addressing the core challenges associated with sensitive data stored across multiple cloud repositories, DSPM equips organizations with practical tools to discover and secure this data. It’s specifically designed for the reality of data living in multiple clouds and numerous services.
Gartner analysts rated DSPM as being transformational to a business, meaning that it facilitates novel approaches to conducting business across various sectors, leading to significant transformations in the dynamics of those industries (Gartner, 2022).
DSPM vs DLP
Data Loss Prevention (DLP) has been a traditional method used to secure enterprise data for a long time, and it can be either network-based or endpoint-based. However, each approach has its own benefits and challenges. DLP technologies often produce false positives, so they are suitable for managing predictable and structured content in specific situations. While DLP is useful in some cases, it fails to address the core challenge faced by cloud organizations, which is how to secure rapidly-created data that moves between accounts, data stores, and even countries. Additionally, once data is outside of the point of control, DLP solutions for the cloud cannot manage that content.
In contrast to DLP, which focuses on preventing the loss of data, DSPM is a data-centric solution that creates a common language for different data containerization technologies, such as databases, storage, warehouses, and data pipelines. This allows for effective data security mitigation and detection of compliance risks, enabling companies to protect their data while maintaining compliance best-practices.
A DSPM solution is able to identify security gaps and undue exposure and accelerates assessments of how data security posture can be enforced through complementary data security controls.
What does DSPM address?
DSPM provides visibility into four critical areas:
- Where is my sensitive data?
- Who has access to that data?
- How has this data been used?
- What is the posture of the data store?
DSPM first discovers all cloud native data stores, including shadow data that may have been created without documentation. Next, it identifies the custodian of each data store and automates the process of data labeling to highlight the most valuable and sensitive data. The solution then maps data flows to identify potential and actual movement and access, enabling timely prevention of sensitive data leakage and regulatory exposure. Finally, it automates enforcement of pre-emptive sensitive data security and compliance controls and provides actionable recommendations to mitigate data vulnerability and compliance violations before costly escalation.
DSPM is foundational to producing risk assessments. With DSPM, you gain insight into your organization’s security posture by analyzing user access to various datasets, which helps you identify and mitigate business risks. This solution can rapidly assess and enforce data security controls, even in the face of hybrid IT and multicloud deployments that are dynamic and complex in nature. In this way, DSPM helps reduce business risks and enhances security posture at scale.
- Sensitive data protection: With the increasing amount of data being generated and stored in various cloud repositories, it becomes challenging for enterprises to keep track of all their sensitive data and prevent exposure. DSPM solutions help to identify both known and unknown data, and continuously monitor their security posture, even as they proliferate. By classifying and tracking sensitive data, organizations can better protect it and prevent overexposure and unauthorized access.
- Compliance: DSPM solutions detect and create alerts whenever sensitive and regulated data violates data residency requirements, segmenting the environment based on data privacy requirements (e.g., GDPR, PCI DSS, HIPAA) and business needs, and turning other data security efforts, such as data inventory and classification, into tangible reports, which can prove compliance to third parties like auditors.
- Cost savings: By enhancing their data security posture, businesses can benefit from cost savings in multiple ways. Firstly, it provides insurance against incidents like ransomware attacks, reducing the associated costs. Additionally, it enables automation of manual processes such as policy checks, data classification, and periodic sampling and scanning of stored data, further driving down costs.