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Top 6 DSPM Use Cases for Optimal Data Security

By Privacy Research Team
Published August 17, 2023

Data Security Posture Management (DSPM) is paramount to reinforcing an organization’s cyber defense in the face of ever-growing cyber threats. The groundbreaking technology has gained huge traction within the global cybersecurity communities ever since Gartner defined it in its Hype Cycle™ 2022 report.

As discussed extensively in a previous blog titled “What is DSPM”, the solution provides a data-centric approach to protecting sensitive data. By offering comprehensive visibility of all their structured and unstructured data, DSPM offers organizations unique data insights. Using those insights, security teams can trace data lineage, identify sensitive data, mitigate misconfiguration risks, govern access privileges, and secure data flows.

DSPM is an emerging technology as security experts continue to explore its transformative use cases that promise to strengthen an organization’s cybersecurity posture.

Common Challenges Organizations Face in the Era of Multicloud

Before diving deeper into the DSPM use cases, let’s first take a quick look at the challenges that organizations face in the big bang era of data.

  • Cloud service providers (CSPs) may offer visibility of native or managed data assets. However, they fail to offer complete visibility of all the assets spread across an organization’s environment. Those data assets may include systems that are hidden from the IT teams, such as shadow and dark data assets.

    These assets may be created over time, during the migration of on-prem databases to the cloud, or when teams copy datasets for experimental projects. Finding these assets is crucial as they may contain sensitive data, putting organizations at serious risk.

  • Data classification poses growing challenges for organizations, as traditional methods struggle to keep pace with the cloud's exponential data growth. The limited cross-platform and multi-format support offered by most tools necessitates the use of multiple classification instruments, leading to inconsistencies in data classification results across environments and project teams.
  • Cloud security posture management (CSPM) is critical in helping security teams identify and rectify cloud posture risks. CSPM usually covers environments like IaaS and PaaS, virtual machines, compute instances, and serverless components, to name a few. However, CPSM tools lack data context, which results in misconfiguration alert fatigue and sensitive data exposure in companies.

    Learn more about DSPM vs. CSPM

  • Organizations strive to achieve a zero-trust data security model to prevent unauthorized data access or data leaks. This model operates on the principle of least privileged access, where access to data is granted only if an identity requires it. However, this level of orchestration requires insights into sensitive data, accurate data classification, visibility of access entitlements, and uniform access policies across the environment.

    Without these missing insights, it is challenging to identify the identities that have access permissions, the level of permissions they have, and if it aligns with the actual data usage.

6 Data Security Posture Management (DSPM) Use Cases

Security teams protecting an organization’s data landscape strive to seek answers to some of the most pressing concerns around data, such as:

  • What data assets exist?
  • What sensitive data exists?
  • How to prevent unauthorized access?
  • How to prioritize the remediation of misconfigurations?
  • How to enable consistent security & privacy controls across the data flows?

Data security posture management solutions help organizations address these concerns in a more strategic and efficient manner. Let’s dive deeper into the DSPM use cases around the aforementioned concerns.

Discover Data Assets

Data asset discovery is critical to ensure the identification and inventory of all the data systems across the organization’s data environment. DSPM solutions provide a comprehensive data asset discovery engine. It enables teams to sift through their entire public cloud environment to identify and catalog data assets properly.

For instance, the solution can efficiently identify shadow data assets, such as unmanaged databases that are running on top of compute instances. Similarly, it can further look for dark data assets, which are forgotten data stores, i.e., unknown to the IT teams.

Classify Sensitive Data

To safeguard data adequately, it is imperative to gain complete visibility of what data is sensitive, where it is located, and if it needs additional security measures. DSPM solutions can help organizations gain that visibility via effective data classification.

By leveraging machine learning (ML) and natural language processing (NLP) techniques, DSPM can discover data and classify it according to its respective sensitivity level. Amongst the many key aspects, DSPM can help identify various data elements across different data formats.

Organizations can further choose to create customized classification policies. These policies are tailored to an organization’s needs or risk appetite. With actionable context around their data, such as privacy or security metadata and regulatory requirements, organizations can effectively address data obligations.

Remediate Misconfigurations

In the cloud security sphere, it is common knowledge that misconfigured data assets can lead to security threats. In fact, surveys reveal that misconfigurations are among the leading cause of cloud data breaches. Hence, resolving configuration errors is paramount to maintaining a robust data secure posture.

By combining data classification capabilities and data security posture rules, DPSM solutions can assist organizations in resolving misconfigured data assets. DSPM solutions help organizations narrow their focus down to only data assets that contain sensitive data. This further enables security teams to prioritize risk and avoid false positives alerts.

Organizations can resolve misconfiguration issues by alerting data owners or through auto-remediation of security violations. Teams must continuously assess data system configurations for errors and harden their configuration guidelines by integrating industry best practices and standards.

Prevent Unauthorized Data Access

Preventing data leaks and unauthorized access require insights into data type, users, roles, access entitlements, locations, and activity. Using those insights, access governance teams can fortify access to their most important data i.e. sensitive data.

DSPM solutions leverage access intelligence and governance to deliver much-needed insights enabling secure data access policies. The solution delivers comprehensive insight into sensitive data along with details about data users, permissions, roles, and access usage. This helps organizations harden access permissions and policies, limiting access to only authorized users and to only the needed data.

A more robust DSPM solution may further allow organizations to combine access and regulatory intelligence, ensuring data transfers follow cross-border transfer rules. DSPM solutions further foster the principle of least-privilege access by isolating inactive and overprivileged users.

Manage Data Privacy

Honoring people’s data privacy rights requires complete insights into personal and sensitive data along with individual identities. However, due to data proliferation, data is now scattered across different systems and geographies. This makes it difficult for data teams to map every data element to individual identities effectively.

Some advanced DSPM solutions can leverage sensitive data intelligence and effective mapping automation to discover personal or sensitive data and the owner of the data.

Secure Data Lifecycle

Data transmits continuously from systems to systems or applications in streaming environments. This continuous data transmission flows at scale create various security posture management challenges and risks for organizations. For instance, hundreds of sensitive data in streaming Topics can be transmitted to unauthorized consumers if not classified and governed.

DSPM solutions help organizations trace data processing activities via data mapping automation and understand data lineage. Data teams can analyze the lineage to grasp how the data moved from different systems, duplicated, changed, or transformed over time. By using such valuable insights, organizations can determine whether security, privacy, and access governance controls are consistent throughout streaming environments.

How Securiti DSPM Can Help

According to Gartner’s Hype Cycle™ report, data security posture management is still in its embryonic or transformational phase. Hence, its potential is yet to be fully explored, and some added capabilities are to be expected.

Securiti Data Command Center, the Gartner cool vendor in data security and the market leader in data security posture management (DSPM) enable organizations to protect sensitive data everywhere, from public and private clouds to SaaS and streaming environments.

Organizations can leverage Data Controls Cloud to:

  • Discover cloud-native, shadow, and dark data assets via 200+ connectors and APIs.
  • Accurately classify data with increased efficiency and at scale.
  • Go beyond traditional classification with granular data labeling, tagging, and metadata enrichment.
  • Use 700+ pre-defined rules to identify and resolve misconfigurations.
  • Enforce least-privileged access controls, fostering a zero-trust data security model.
  • Dynamically mask sensitive data across large-scale deployments.
  • Automate data privacy operations.
  • Secure the complete lifecycle of data, including data in motion.
  • Easily extend DSPM to unify data security, privacy, compliance, and governance controls using a single platform.

Interested in learning more? Request a Demo now.

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