What Is Data Security Posture Management (DSPM)?

Discover why a DSPM solution is an essential tool in the struggle to protect data from external threats.

Cyber attacks are on the rise. In 2023, a PWC survey revealed an almost 10% increase in data breaches that resulted in over $1 million in damages. Threat actors are constantly adapting their techniques to stay one step ahead, and organizations need all the help they can get to protect their infrastructure from the threat of intrusion.

Data security posture management (DSPM) is an essential tool in the battle to prevent data breaches. It relies on automated monitoring systems and processes to detect vulnerabilities and mitigate risk, giving your team an edge against data leaks or intrusion. Here, we’ll explore how DSPM works, its key components, and why you must implement a DSPM system to keep your data secure. 

What is data security posture management?

Data security posture management is an automated solution designed to protect an organization’s data through continuous monitoring and analysis. It examines your data security policies and procedures to detect vulnerabilities and identify potential risks, such as bugs, misconfigurations, and shadow data. It also provides visibility into where your sensitive data is located, who is using it, and how secure it is. Ultimately, DSPM solutions strengthen a data-centric approach to security, granting an up-to-date window into the effectiveness of your current security stance.

How data security posture management works

DSPM solutions enable you to identify and remediate security risks associated with your organization’s data assets at scale. These systems often rely on some or all of the following components and employ automation to notify you of potential vulnerabilities and rectify policy errors or poorly configured data stores.

Key components of DSPM

  • Data discovery and cataloging: The existence of shadow data — data that security teams don’t know about or aren’t managing directly — creates a security risk. DSPM solutions regularly scan storage systems and infrastructure to catalog all data located within the network. 
  • Data classification: To properly assess and mitigate the security risk of data stores, teams need to know what data is sensitive and requires extra attention. DSPM systems can classify data based on several criteria, such as whether it contains personally identifiable information, payment data, proprietary data, or needs to adhere to particular regulatory requirements, like HIPAA or GDPR.
  • Incident response: DSPM’s continuous data monitoring and alert capabilities provide real-time response to potential threats. If a DSPM discovers suspicious activity, it will automatically trigger an alert for your team.
  • Security policy enforcement: If elements of your infrastructure are misaligned with set security policies, DSPM solutions will notify you where these violations occur and flag them for remediation.

Why modern organizations need DSPM

Modern application development is complex and moves at a rapid pace. It’s next to impossible to manually keep tabs on where data is stored and apps are accessing it at any given time, especially when systems continuously add, move, and manipulate data. DSPMs offer an automated solution for tracking and securing your data so you can focus your time and resources on making a better product. Here are just a few ways DSPMs keep your organization secure:

  • Prevent unauthorized access: They monitor and automatically enforce access controls to keep cyber attackers out while allowing authorized users to do their jobs.
  • Enable regulatory compliance: They scan your entire infrastructure to identify and disclose misconfigurations and security gaps so your team can remediate them before they cause problems.
  • Protect your data: They automatically identify and track sensitive data alongside potential entry points to keep data secured.
  • Keep up with evolving threats: They gain proactive insight into emerging security risks so you can take preemptive measures to protect sensitive data.

How to get started with DSPM

Every organization’s infrastructure and data security needs are unique. Even so, the following steps will walk you through the general process for selecting and implementing a DSPM that can be customized to meet those specific needs.

  1. Evaluate your organization’s data security needs and requirements. Your infrastructure’s design, data storage, and potential compliance requirements will frame your decision-making process and integration capabilities.
  2. Establish a strategy for deployment that integrates with your existing cloud infrastructure to avoid unnecessary downtime or security gaps.
  3. Define the scope of DSPM implementation, so you know where to start. Decide which data assets are more sensitive and prioritize them first.
  4. Develop a data discovery, classification, incident response, and security policy enforcement plan.
  5. Implement and configure the DSPM solution to meet your organization’s specific requirements.
  6. Train and educate your security team on your DSPM solution’s feature set and instruct them on how to monitor and respond to threats effectively.
  7. Continuously monitor and assess your organization’s data security posture to maximize DSPM efficacy.
  8. Regularly review and update security policies and DSPM processes to adapt to evolving threats and new compliance requirements.

DSPM integrations

DSPM solutions are most effective when fully integrated with various components of your organization's security stack. Integration capabilities include: 

DSPM best practices

The following best practices will help your organization get the most out of its DSPM solution. 

  • Implement zero-trust access control policies alongside DSPM systems to dynamically authenticate users and enforce security policies at every possible access point. 
  • Security is a moving target, and if you don’t know how strong your current security stance is, you won’t know what needs to be improved. Analyze your data risk score regularly to stay on top of any security gaps that may have crept in. 
  • Develop a security strategy that includes your DSPM as a centralized solution for monitoring and managing threats.
  • Cyber attackers don’t rest, and neither should you. Regularly update security policies that include ways to mitigate the latest threats and educate employees throughout the organization on how to adhere to them.
  • A DSPM solution’s real power comes from its automated monitoring and notification systems, which provide a real-time window into the current state of your infrastructure’s data security. Set up alerts that will automatically ping key stakeholders in case of potential security incidents so your team can respond rapidly and mitigate the damage.

DSPM vs. CSPM

Cloud security posture management (CSPM) solutions are very similar to DSPM solutions. Both work to enhance your organization’s overall security posture, but they differ in a few critical ways. Both tools are a vital part of securing data, and the following table shows how they provide holistic coverage of your infrastructure.

DSPM CSPM
Broader coverage, narrower focus. Narrower coverage, broader focus.
Monitors data stores and enforces data access and compliance policies. Monitors for misconfigurations and provides insight into cloud security risks.
Focuses on data security across various environments, including cloud, on premises, endpoints, and network infrastructure. Specifically targets security risks within cloud environments.

Level up your data security stance

Data security posture management is an indispensable tool for safeguarding sensitive data in complex, cloud-native apps. Prioritizing the integration of DSPM solutions is a must for modern enterprises looking to maintain customer trust, comply with regulations, and proactively address a constantly evolving cybersecurity landscape. 

However, it’s only one part of the picture. Securing your entire product and protecting customer information requires a comprehensive approach that increases visibility into your entire infrastructure. Download our free e-book How to Build an Effective Data Security Strategy today, and discover essential tips on the importance of IT modernization and how to apply security best practices in a cloud-first environment. 

How To Build An Effective Data Security Strategy

Book a personalized, no-pressure demo today to learn:
  • How adversaries are leveraging avenues outside traditional email to conduct phishing on iOS and Android devices
  • Real-world examples of phishing and app threats that have compromised organizations
  • How an integrated endpoint-to-cloud security platform can detect threats and protect your organization

Flexible work environments and cloud services have altered how and where your employees can connect and in turn, where your data resides.

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Book a personalized, no-pressure demo today to learn:

How To Build An Effective Data Security Strategy

Flexible work environments and cloud services have altered how and where your employees can connect and in turn, where your data resides.

  • How adversaries are leveraging avenues outside traditional email to conduct phishing on iOS and Android devices
  • Real-world examples of phishing and app threats that have compromised organizations
  • How an integrated endpoint-to-cloud security platform can detect threats and protect your organization