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Blog 3 min read

Your Definitive Guide to Data Security Posture Management (DSPM)

by Michael Osakwe Published Sep 30, 2022

With high-profile data breaches making headlines on a regular basis, it’s no wonder that data security is top of mind for so many organizations. But what exactly is data security posture management (DSPM)? In this blog post, we’ll take a closer look at DSPM and how it can help your business keep its data safe and secure.

What is Data Security Posture Management (DSPM)?

DSPM, or Data Security Posture Management, is an important security practice that helps organizations keep track of their security posture. Doing this ensures that organizations are addressing potential risks in a timely manner. This involves identifying risks and vulnerabilities, implementing controls to mitigate those risks, and constantly monitoring the effectiveness of those controls. By taking a proactive and continuous approach to data security, businesses can reduce their overall risk exposure.

Why is DSPM Important?

There are three primary reasons why DSPM is so important for businesses today:

1. Data breaches are becoming more common: In recent years, we’ve seen a substantial increase in the number of high-profile data breaches.

2. The cost of data breaches is rising: According to research from IBM, the average cost of a data breach grew by 6% year over year in 2019. On average, each breached record now costs $148. And for companies with 50 million or more customer records, that number jumps to an eye-popping $4 billion! Clearly, the financial impact of a major data breach can be devastating for businesses—which is why DSPM is so important.

3. Compliance requirements are becoming more stringent: In addition to the financial implications, there are also reputational and regulatory risks associated with data breaches. For example, if personal data is stolen in a breach, the company may be required to notify affected individuals as well as regulators—such as the GDPR in Europe or CCPA in California—which could lead to significant fines. In some instances, service providers might mandate controls that fall under the DSPM banner for the sake of compliance. Slack, for instance, requires healthcare providers to use data loss prevention (DLP) in order to comply with HIPAA.

How Can You Implement DSPM?

There are five key steps that businesses need to take to implement an effective DSPM program: 

1. Asset inventory: In this first step, organizations gather information about all of their assets, including databases, servers, applications, and endpoints. This information is then used to create a comprehensive inventory of all assets that need to be protected.

2. Assess risks and vulnerabilities: Next, you need to assess your organization’s risks and vulnerabilities. This assessment should consider both internal and external threats, as well as physical and cyber risks. A key risk is the stored data on your SaaS applications, DLP is a fast and effective way to scan these applications and mitigate these risks – such as passwords, API keys, and other credentials being viewable in plaintext in GitHub or Slack.

In order to conduct this successful, you need to answer three questions: 

· How exposed are my systems to external threats? 

· How prepared am I to defend against those threats? 

· How likely am I to suffer a breach? 

You can use various tools and methods—such as penetration testing and threat modeling—to answer these questions. Once you have answers to these questions, you can develop a plan of action to address any weaknesses in your system.

3. Mitigation planning: The next step is to put processes and controls in place to mitigate the risks and vulnerabilities you’ve identified. These controls could include technical measures like encryption, DLP or access control lists (ACLs) as well as administrative measures like employee training or incident response plans. The proliferation of BYOD devices and remote work has also made implementing controls more difficult, highlighting the importance of cloud-native controls.

4. Monitor effectiveness: Once you’ve implemented controls, you need to continuously monitor their effectiveness to ensure they’re actually working as intended. This monitoring should be done on an ongoing basis, so you can quickly identify any new or emerging risks and take steps to mitigate them before they cause serious damage.

5. Make improvements: Finally, you need to continuously improve your DSPM program based on what you learn from your assessments, and effectively adjust to changes in your environment. This could involve anything from updating your incident response plan to adding new controls or changing existing ones.

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