Data is every business’s most crucial asset – the foundation of any security program. Data Security Posture Management (DSPM) is an emerging security trend named by Gartner in its 2022 Hype Cycle for Data Security. The aim of DSPM solutions is to enable security and compliance teams to answer three fundamental questions:
The cloud has fundamentally changed how businesses function. Moving workloads and data assets is now simpler than ever, and is a boon for productivity, enabling businesses to quickly respond to customer demands and create new revenue opportunities. However, the pace and permissive nature of the cloud also dramatically expands a company’s threat surface and raises the likelihood of a data breach. Put simply, the distributed nature of the cloud seriously complicates data security.
Historically, a number of technologies have attempted to address challenges related to data security, including:
DSPM solutions combine capabilities from all three of these areas and represent the next-generation approach in cloud data security.
DSPM represents a next-generation approach to data security
DSPM vendors are taking a cloud-first approach to make it easier to discover, classify, assess, prioritize, and remediate data security issues. They are solving cloud security concerns by automating data detection and protection activities in a dynamic environment and at a massive scale.
Gartner Research summarizes the DSPM space, saying, “Data security posture management provides visibility as to where sensitive data is, who has access to that data, how it has been used, and what the security posture of the data store or application is. In simple terms, DSPM vendors and products provide “data discovery+” — that is, in-depth data discovery plus varying combinations of data observability features. Such features may include real-time visibility into data ﬂows, risk, and compliance with data security controls. The objective is to identify security gaps and undue exposure. DSPM accelerates assessments of how data security posture can be enforced through complementary data security controls.” To summarize Gartner’s definition, DSPM provides visibility as to where sensitive data is, who has access to that data, how it has been used, and what the security posture of the data store or application is.
The foundation of a DSPM offering is data discovery and classification. Reports like Forrester’s Now Tech: Data Discovery And Classification, Q4 2020 dive deep into data discovery and classification technologies, which in Forrester’s case aligns to five segments: data management, information governance, privacy, security, and specialist concerns. These segments align with three major buying centers: global risk and compliance, security, and business units/product owners.
DSPM focuses on delivering automated, continuous, and highly accurate data discovery and classification for security teams. The following list provides clarity on how these approaches align with buying centers, all of which have data discovery and classification needs, but as you will see below, want to leverage it for different purposes:
Posture management solutions abound
Today there are three prevailing types of security tools that offer posture management solutions: cloud security posture management (CSPM), SaaS security posture management (SSPM), and data security posture management (DSPM). The solutions can be disintermediated as follows:
While DSPM solutions have focused on a cloud-first approach, data security is not limited only to cloud environments. Therefore more mature DSPM solutions will also include on-prem use cases since most businesses maintain some form of on-prem data, and will for years to come. In addition, as the DSPM space evolves, and solutions gain maturity, some will become more robust data security platforms, which will include the ability to:
DSPM solutions address key security use cases
Businesses thrive on collaboration. The current reality of highly distributed environments - many of which leverage cloud technologies - means that any file or data element can be easily shared at the click of a button. DSPM provides the missing piece to complete most security programs’ puzzles – a means of identifying, contextualizing, and protecting sensitive data.
DSPM solutions empower security teams to:
Electronic Lab Notebooks (Electronic Laboratory Notebook or ELN) is the digital form of a paper lab notebook. In the pharmaceutical industry, it is used by researchers, scientists, and technicians to document observations, progress, and results from their experiments performed in a laboratory.
While ELN enables information to be documented and shared electronically, it also exposes proprietary information to malicious insiders or external hackers. As a result, ELN should be subject to appropriate security controls to prevent misuse or loss.
Defense Industrial Base (DIB) contractors are companies that conduct business with the US military and are part of the military industry complex responsible for research, production, delivery, and service.
DIB contractors are responsible for meeting compliance requirements set by government policies and frameworks including the the Department of Defense Instruction (DoDI) 5200.48 and Cybersecurity Maturity Model Certification.
According to DoDi 5200.48, safeguarding Controlled Unclassified Information is a shared responsibility between DIB contractors and the Department of Defense.
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