Just a few years ago, data security predominantly focused on fortifying the network perimeter, primarily within the confines of dedicated office spaces.
However, the landscape has dramatically shifted. With critical corporate data residing in cloud environments, and an increasingly globalised workforce accessing these resources, the realms of Cloud Security Posture Management (CSPM) and Data Security Posture Management (DSPM) have emerged as tangible, must-implement strategies.
It’s less a case of CSPM vs DSPM, and more a case of figuring out what works for your business.
CSPM stands for Cloud Security Posture Management, and covers the relevant security you need to protect your cloud environment, such as making sure your networks and apps are protected. It’s an important strategy to have in place for companies that use cloud services like Amazon Web Services, or Google Cloud.
Not only can CSPM help you stay compliant with regulations, it can also give you visibility over your cloud security, and ensures that you can mitigate any risks associated with your cloud environment.
As there’s no perimeter to the cloud, it’s imperative that everything is configured correctly. However, CSPM won’t specifically protect the data that sits within your cloud, or on your devices. Instead, it focuses on the assets within.
DSPM, on the other hand, stands for Data Security Posture Management. Rather than focusing on the cloud, DSPM focuses on the data layer of your business (including data within the cloud).
It can also help you remain compliant, particularly with data protection regulations, and helps to protect your sensitive data from data breaches that may come from insider threats or external forces. DSPM gives you visibility over where your data is stored, and helps you to manage things like access control.
In a world where data can easily be bought and sold, DSPM is a vital component of your overall security strategy.
Whereas CSPM focuses on your organisation’s cloud infrastructure and services, DSPM prioritises the privacy of your data.
Here’s an overview of how the two differ:
Let's take the analogy of a bank and the contents within it to explain.
The bank (the cloud provider) would ensure that access to the safe within it is secured, and the owners of different vaults, can only open their vault. Rather than worry about what its users put inside their own vaults, it is solely concerned with the bigger picture. This is CSPM.
Now let's imagine multiple people have access to the same vault. At this point, concerns arise over the contents of the vault - and whether there are important documents inside that only certain individuals should have access to. So, they find a tool that scans the contents of the vault and warns the owner of the documents about sensitive information that could leak. This is DSPM.
Whether you’ll need CSPM or DSPM will depend on what your organisation needs; they each have their own benefits, and could help your business in different ways.
CSPM can help you ensure your cloud services are secure, and configured correctly to avoid data leaks. It can also keep you aligned with the latest regulations to ensure you’re compliant, and give you continuous monitoring over your cloud environment so you’re able to respond to threats quickly.
CSPM has the potential to help you save money by reducing the use of inefficient services too.
In terms of monetary value, DSPM tools can be indispensable for their ability to help you avoid hefty penalties by keeping you compliant with regulations. With a focus on safeguarding sensitive data, DSPM can help you gain total visibility and control over one of your most valuable assets.
Using CSPM and DSPM in conjunction with each other could help you build a comprehensive security posture that covers both cloud infrastructure and data protection, reducing your overall attack surface.
Without either of these in place, you could be opening yourself up to critical risks that could result in your cloud environment being compromised, or your data being leaked.
Leaving CSPM out of the equation could lead to misconfigurations, allowing attackers to exploit vulnerabilities, or a security threat might go undetected for a long time, giving bad actors a chance to steal as much information from you as possible.
The risks of not having DSPM in place could include an increased risk of data breaches, or leaks, as well as a lack of control over user access.
Without either CSPM or DSPM, you run the risk of non-compliance with regulations like GDPR or HIPAA, which could lead to huge financial and reputational losses.
Taking a financial services company - let’s call them ‘Trusted Bank’ - as our example, let’s see how CSPM and DSPM would apply.
Trusted Bank may use Google Cloud to house all of their applications so their worldwide team can work seamlessly, and collaborate effectively. The CISO at Trusted Bank can use a CSPM tool to ensure the cloud infrastructure is sound, and there are no vulnerabilities that could be exploited. They could also have strict access controls in place, using a CSPM tool, to stop unauthorised users getting into the cloud environment.
Now that the cloud is secured, let’s look at the data stored in that cloud. The company Google Drive could be overflowing with sensitive data - particularly customers’ credit card details. A DSPM tool would help the CISO understand where sensitive data is stored, and classify it to make sure they are clear on their most critical risks.
If the DSPM tool identifies sensitive data stored in a spreadsheet within Google Drive for instance, with public access available for anyone on the internet, it could also warn the CISO of the data that is currently exposed, and automation rules can be put in place to revoke access for everyone except the leadership team.
Once you have this insight, you’ll be able to set automated rules to redact data, reducing the amount of data held in your SaaS stack. We integrate instantly with your favourite apps to start detecting and protecting data from day one.
OysterHR recently told us all about how they use Metomic automations to educate their team on data security. Read more from their Managing Counsel, Jeffrey, here.