Data is expanding beyond environments, applications, and geographical boundaries. It is safe to say that we are currently experiencing the era of the Big Bang of Data. It is driving economies and industries. Organizations that can leverage data to its fullest potential take the helm of their industry, leading it peerlessly.
However, with the proliferation of data comes increasingly serious risks to data security and privacy. Take, for instance, the 2013 data breach of a renowned search engine that affected the data of millions of users. The source of the data breach was identity theft. Apart from security risks, there are also regulatory and compliance risks that may result in hefty fines and reputational damage.
Around 90% of the data is dark data. It means that the data is there in a company’s data environment, but it is undiscovered, unattended, and unprotected. Many cybersecurity incidents happen because of such data blind spots. Therefore, it is critical to have a holistic, data-centric data security strategy in place. Here, Data Security Posture Management (DSPM) comes into the picture.
Studies reveal that 60% of the global data lives in the cloud, be it single-cloud, hybrid, or multi-cloud. As data flows between cloud service providers (CSPs) and applications, it tends to proliferate and turn into data sprawl. DSPM helps organizations answer the questions that arise from the problems of data sprawl:
- What data does the organization have?
- What data is sensitive data?
- Who can access the data?
- What are the security risks or misconfigurations?
Organizations use the insights resulting from answering those questions to identify and mitigate risks, establish appropriate access controls, automate workflows, and comply with data residency or cross-border transfer rules. However, as DSPM itself is a relatively newer category in the cloud data security tools market, it is plagued with certain myths.
Some organizations believe that they can get comprehensive visibility into their data across SaaS environments. This is not entirely true. Typical DSPM solutions are limited in their approach to data asset visibility in that they don’t scan beyond the public clouds. A traditional DSPM tool delivers visibility of an organization’s data landscape across the public cloud and classifies it into data elements, data formats, and labels. Such a granular data intelligence provides valuable context around data, allowing businesses to leverage those insights to identify vulnerabilities and place proper controls, such as access governance.
However, there are certain DSPM tools that can deliver a comprehensive visibility of data across different environments, such as IaaS, PaaS, private clouds, multi-clouds, and SaaS applications. These modern DSPM solutions leverage artificial intelligence and machine learning technologies to discover hundreds of sensitive data elements while enabling faster classification with high accuracy. Gartner has also named modern DSPM solutions in its Hype Cycle and Innovation Insight reports.
Another DSPM Myth is that data security posture management solutions can offer better cyber security than Cloud Security Posture Management (CSPM) solutions. This is also not entirely true. Some organizations believe that CSPM solutions should be replaced by DSPM solutions because CSPM doesn’t deliver context around data. Without valuable data context, it is difficult to properly prioritize sensitive data protection.
While it is true that CSPM solutions lack data context, it doesn’t mean that the technology is replaceable by DSPM solutions. DSPM is good at providing data context, but it doesn’t scan network resources or compute instances, such as EC2. Both solutions are complementary to providing a multi-layered mechanism. For instance, a CSPM solution can help organizations protect their systems by sending an alert about a misconfigured compute instance, which, if left unprotected, would allow an attacker to assume an admin role and breach a data storage bucket. DSPM, on the other hand, delivers sensitive data context, enabling security teams to prioritize systems containing sensitive data. Hence, both DSPM and CSPM work in tandem.
As mentioned earlier, modern DSPM solutions can deliver data context at a granular level. Using that context or information around personal or sensitive data, organizations can comply with data privacy obligations. For instance, DSPM can help organizations understand the flow of data, its transformation, and movement across systems through data mapping flows and lineage. This further helps teams understand the cross-border rules and data retention policies that enable organizations to comply with privacy regulations.
However, there’s more to data privacy regulations compliance. DSPM is not a data privacy management solution. It doesn’t help organizations fulfill all the data-related obligations required by privacy laws. For instance, even if you have context around sensitive data, you cannot use it to meet consent requirements unless you have a consent plugin or tool. Similarly, you must comply with Data Subject Requests, vendor assessments, cookie consents, and Global Privacy Control.
DSPM is a new cloud data security tool category. Myths like those discussed above will soon disappear once the tool gets wider global adoption. In fact, studies reveal that up to 40% of organizations will adopt DSPM as their cloud data security solution by 2026. Hence, learning more about DSPM, understanding its components and processes, and helping your organization implement the technology to protect its data everywhere is imperative.
About the Author:
With a strong background in the SaaS and IaaS industry, Syed Sayem Mustufa has extensive experience in Marketing. Over the years, Sayem has served some of the top data intelligence and cybersecurity brands, including Securiti.ai. He loves nothing more than breaking down and simplifying highly complex product details into easy-to-understand benefits for end users.
Editor’s Note: The opinions expressed in this and other guest author articles are solely those of the contributor, and do not necessarily reflect those of Tripwire.