The use of SaaS apps has grown exponentially over the last few years, increasing by 18% in 2022 alone.
According to BetterCloud’s ‘The State of SaasOps’ 2023 report, organisations are using 130 apps on average. With this huge amount of growth comes a whole lot of sensitive data being shared between employees and customers.
Data Security Posture Management (DSPM) focuses on the data layer of a business, giving security teams visibility over the data in their ecosystems, such as sensitive PII and PHI, as well as company secrets.
It helps them to understand where data is stored, who can see it, and how it’s being used, all through automated processes. Instead of security teams trawling through SaaS apps to manually detect sensitive data and revoke access, DSPM arms security teams with the information they need to understand the data they’re holding, and makes it easier to protect it by setting remediation and redaction rules.
DSPM is designed to protect the data layer of your organisation, and ensure that sensitive data you hold won’t be leaked or breached.
The key components of DSPM include:
DSPM solutions like Metomic can integrate seamlessly with SaaS apps such as Slack, Google Drive, and Jira. Automatically scanning for classifiers such as credit card numbers, email addresses, and phone numbers, they let security teams know the risks associated with these files.
A DSPM solution can also help to triage risks so CISOs or other security professionals know what they’ll need to address urgently. The technology works off rules that teams can create in order to take actions like terminating access immediately, redacting sensitive data after a set period of time, or notifying employees if they’ve breached company security policies.
Data is often the lifeblood of organisations so DSPM is crucial for keeping businesses running smoothly, and building a reputable brand that is trusted by its customers.
Not only can DSPM ensure that confidential information, including customer data and proprietary business secrets, remains secure from cyber threats, breaches, and unauthorised access, you may have to have a DSPM solution in place to remain compliant with regulations such as GDPR or HIPAA.
While DSPM can be an investment in the beginning, it can help you save money in the long run. Avoiding any data-related security incidents can ensure you won’t have to deal with legal and financial costs that can run into the thousands.
As your business scales, DSPM tools can prove invaluable in managing data security across complex and rapidly expanding IT environments, including cloud services and IoT devices.
With more people working remotely than ever before, gaps are being revealed in security team set-ups. Employees don’t have a dedicated IT team at home who can keep an eye on the risks posed to their tools.
As well as automating processes to free up a security professional’s time, it can also help create a more security-aware culture within your organisation. Considering human error causes 82% of data breaches, it’s easy to see why companies might want to educate their employees on data protection. DSPM solutions can notify employees with real-time notifications so they’re aware of their actions in the moment, keeping security front of mind. This reduces the risks of people exposing data accidentally, making sure your business is protected at the first line of defence.
With a DSPM solution in place, you can better understand where your data is, and take steps to protect it so the risk of a data breach will be minimised. And with breaches on the rise, and an average $4.35m cost attached to them, it only makes sense to control your sensitive data so if your company were to be compromised, no information would be leaked.
It can also help you to stay compliant with laws like GDPR and HIPAA, redacting data after a set period of time, and keeping customer data safe from prying eyes.
There are a few ways DSPM can benefit your business:
Let’s look at a few examples:
#1. The team at Company 1 have been using SaaS apps for years with their 1000-strong staff finding it easier to collaborate with tools such as Google Drive. Their CISO has recently discovered a DSPM solution that helps them to monitor files that have been historically shared and has uncovered hundreds of forgotten files that are publicly accessible.
As a result, they immediately changed access permissions to ensure the files were no longer public. Their DSPM solution has helped them to set custom rules, ensuring that any sensitive data doesn’t leave the boundary of the business in the future.
Take a look at our case study with Zappi to see how they used Metomic to help them protect their Google Workspace.
#2. Company 2 uses their DSPM solution to make sure contractors who work with the company for a short time do not have access to files in the future. Documents could include sensitive data such as customer email addresses and phone numbers, as well as company secrets. Using the new tool, they can revoke access immediately from contractors who stopped working with the company a long time ago and continue to revoke access from contractors in the future once the project they’re working on is complete.
#3. Finally, Company 3 uses their DSPM solution to ensure compliance with GDPR and HIPAA legislation. For instance, GDPR rules dictate that personal information should be stored for the shortest time possible. So when it comes to the company audit, if the PII data for hundreds of customers is sitting in Slack channels, there could be a good chance the business isn’t complying with GDPR regulations.
With their DSPM solution in place, they can identify where the files are sitting, control who has access, and make sure the data expires after a certain amount of time, keeping them within the confines of the law.
You can begin by taking a look at what your DSPM needs are. For instance, are you scaling rapidly and need to have a tool in place to monitor data being shared in plenty of different locations? Or is your issue more around keeping unauthorised users out of sensitive documents?
Once you know what your main issue is, you can start to look for a provider that suits your needs, taking a look at G2 reviews to identify vendors that have great feedback from their users.
Always try out a few different options to see how each platform works, and how much work you’ll need to put in to get it set up, especially if you’re stretched for time. Ask them to show whether they’re SOC2 compliant, and whether they have the necessary quality certifications to satisfy your team. Assess the security features of each DSPM solution, focusing on asset discovery, vulnerability assessment, policy management, and reporting capabilities.
Getting your leadership team on board to approve your new DSPM tool can be difficult, especially since you can’t show ROI straight away. But securing this buy-in can prove beneficial when it comes to protecting the company’s brand reputation, and the potential financial implications too. Ask the DSPM vendors you’re engaging with to provide an outline of expected ROI that you can show to leaders within the business.
Sheree Buller Lim, Head of Product at Metomic, says, “A great DSPM tool will help you take a ‘crawl, walk, run’ approach to implement DSPM gradually, without disrupting current workflows. Start by addressing your most critical assets first, before working your way through the rest, and setting up automations to prevent them happening in the future.”
In order to keep your DSPM tool working effectively for you, you’ll need to dedicate some time to training employees on it, and build a culture that cares about security by keeping your team engaged.
Showing them how DSPM fits into their role, and how they can keep sensitive data safe is crucial. After all, no one wants to be that person who shared data in the wrong place!
Cloud Security Posture Management (CSPM) focuses mainly on the infrastructure of your security and making sure things are set up correctly. DSPM, however, focuses on the all-important data layer.
Both can be beneficial to a business, and it’s worth having both in place to ensure that your company is fully protected when it comes to security.
For a full breakdown of core differences, read our guide "What are the differences between CSPM & DSPM?"
Note. Another common and more general term you may have heard of when it comes to data security is SaaS security posture management, which can make a huge difference when it comes to minimising the cybersecurity risks to your business.
You should ensure the security tools you choose to improve your DSPM aren’t overlapping with each other, to make your budget go even further.
As an example, a DSPM tool such as Metomic can help businesses identify where their data risks lie, and who is responsible for creating those risks.
Built to lock down your data, Metomic alerts security teams to employees sharing sensitive data within SaaS apps such as Slack, Google Drive, and Jira. Aiming to keep productivity levels high, it protects your data without getting in the way of your team doing their jobs.
Metomic covers a comprehensive set of data issues such as access controls, data loss prevention, insider threat detection, and more so it could act as the only tool you’d need for your DSPM requirements.
It’s well worth reviewing your own DSPM practices and seeing whether they’re sufficient to protect your business, especially as you grow.
Bringing a DSPM solution to your company could help you minimise the risks if your SaaS apps were to be compromised as you’ll know that you’ve taken the necessary steps to avoid sensitive data being leaked.
Check out our case study with TravelPerk to see how Metomic helped them to protect their sensitive data as they scaled.