Data Security

Protecting Critical Data in the Age of Innovation: The Power of DSPM

rectangle Written by: Anne Gotay rectangle 2 5 min read

Due to the significant number of cyber attacks and data security breaches in sectors such as healthcare which saw a 74% increase in attacks since last year, there is much discussion about Data Security Posture Management (DSPM) and whether or not it plays a vital role in Data Security.

Cloud migration and infrastructure digitization have become paramount as many companies continue transitioning towards a more remote or hybrid workforce model. Organizations relying on the cloud to house mission-critical applications, store digital assets, and process sensitive or proprietary information face the increased risk of data theft, manipulation, and loss.

DSPM helps organizations identify and mitigate these risks by implementing best practices and technologies to secure their data. This article takes a deeper look into why DSPM is critical for organizations, the key components of DSPM, and the business benefits of DSPM.


A New Normal Brings New Data Security Challenges

Cloud migration, digital transformation, and data democratization have ushered in several new challenges. The sprawl of cloud data storage and applications across multiple cloud providers, the proliferation of data, the death of the traditional perimeter, and the acceleration of online collaboration have created a new kind of threat known as the “Innovation Attack Surface.” This new threat is primarily created by the most innovative people in the business – developers and data scientists – and results from massive, decentralized, accidental risk creation.

Decentralization and moving data outside of the traditional security perimeter have escalated the problem worldwide. Nations are seeing massive rises in attacks, with the US having a 57% escalation, the UK seeing a 77% increase, and Singapore having a 26% rise over previous years. Organizations are looking for unique solutions to better defend their data to deal with the increased threat.

What is the Innovation Attack Surface?

The Innovation Attack Surface refers to the potential vulnerabilities or weak points in a system, product, or organization that attackers can exploit to gain unauthorized access, steal sensitive information, or disrupt operations. The term “attack surface” refers to the total exposure of a system to security risks. The innovation attack surface refers explicitly to the dangers posed by new technologies, products, and processes that organizations adopt to pursue innovation. Organizations increase their attack surface as they innovate by connecting new systems to existing networks, storing sensitive information in new cloud-based systems, or exposing sensitive data through new APIs. 

How Does the Innovation Attack Surface Impact Data Security?

The adoption of new technologies, systems, and processes, such as cloud computing, artificial intelligence, and the Internet of Things, can create new vulnerabilities and increase the risk of data breaches. These technologies can create new entry points for attackers to access sensitive data.

Another factor is the increased complexity of an organization’s IT environment. Integrating new systems, processes, and technologies can make managing and securing sensitive data more difficult. New data storage systems, notably cloud-based, can create unknown security risks if not properly secured. And with the growth in data volume, especially sensitive data, organizations face massive challenges in protecting and managing their data, especially Shadow Data. 

What is Shadow Data?

Shadow data refers to information generated or stored within an organization but not managed or governed by the organization’s official data management policies and procedures. Shadow data can come from various sources, including personal devices, cloud-based file-sharing services, and social media platforms.

Shadow data can pose a significant risk to an organization’s data security and privacy, as it may contain sensitive information that is not adequately protected or managed. For example, shadow data stored on personal devices or in cloud-based file-sharing services may not be encrypted, leaving sensitive information vulnerable to theft or unauthorized access.

This also creates compliance and regulatory challenges, further increasing the risk for organizations, especially those in highly regulated industries, such as healthcare and finance. 

The Danger of Shadow Data

Shadow data can pose many security risks to organizations, including:

  • Data Loss: Shadow data may be stored on personal devices or in cloud-based file-sharing services that are not properly secured, increasing the risk of data loss.
  • Data Theft: Shadow data may contain sensitive information that is not properly protected, making it vulnerable to theft by attackers.
  • Compliance and Regulatory Risks: Shadow data may not be subject to the same data protection and privacy regulations as officially managed data, creating compliance and regulatory risks for organizations.
  • Unauthorized Access: Shadow data may not be managed appropriately or governed, increasing the risk of unauthorized access to sensitive information.
  • Reputational Damage: The loss or theft of sensitive information contained in shadow data can damage an organization’s reputation, leading to lost customers and revenue.
  • Data Inconsistency: Shadow data may not be properly coordinated with officially managed data, leading to inconsistencies and errors in the data.


New Approach to Data Security

Data Security Posture Management (DSPM) was born out of the need to combat these new threats and ensure the security of sensitive data in the cloud. DSPM provides a more comprehensive approach to data security, helping organizations to address the data risks posed by the innovation attack surface and ensure the confidentiality, integrity, and availability of their sensitive data. With DSPM in place, organizations can confidently embrace cloud transformation and data democratization, knowing their sensitive information is protected and secure.

Key Steps and Components for DSPM:

  • Assessment: This involves thoroughly analyzing an organization’s security posture to identify potential vulnerabilities and threats. This may include a combination of manual assessments, vulnerability scans, and penetration testing.
  • Policy development: Based on the assessment results, an organization can develop policies and procedures that outline the appropriate use of sensitive information and the controls in place to protect it.
  • Implementation: Once policies and procedures have been developed, the next step is implementing the appropriate security controls to protect sensitive data. This may include access controls, encryption, firewalls, intrusion detection, and prevention systems.
  • Monitoring: DSPM requires continuous monitoring of the security controls and technologies to detect and respond to potential threats in real time. This may be done through log analysis, security information and event management (SIEM) systems, and other monitoring tools.
  • Incident response: In the event of a security breach, DSPM requires an effective incident response plan to minimize the damage and restore normal operations as quickly as possible. This includes identifying the cause of the breach, isolating the affected systems, and taking steps to prevent similar incidents from occurring in the future.
  • Compliance: DSPM also involves ensuring that the organization complies with relevant regulations and standards, such as the General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR), Payment Card Industry Data Security Standard (PCI – DSS), and Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA).


The Business Benefits of DSPM

Data Security Posture Management is a game-changer for organizations looking to secure their data assets and stay ahead of the curve. With the ever-increasing threat of cyber-attacks, data breaches, and theft, DSPM provides organizations with a comprehensive solution to protect their most valuable asset – their data.

DSPM helps organizations comply with various data security regulations, such as the General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) and the Payment Card Industry Data Security Standard (PCI DSS), ensuring that their data security practices meet the required standards. By identifying and prioritizing potential security risks to their data assets, DSPM enables organizations to develop and implement effective risk mitigation strategies, reducing the risk of data breaches and theft.

Implementing a robust DSPM program can help organizations avoid the costs associated with data breaches, such as legal fees, reputation damage, and the cost of restoring lost data. It also helps organizations streamline their data security processes, freeing up resources that can be redirected to other initiatives, increasing efficiency, and reducing manual effort.

DSPM provides organizations with the data and insights they need to make informed decisions about their data security posture, enabling them to allocate resources and prioritize initiatives more effectively. With the increased transparency and control provided by DSPM, organizations can be confident in their ability to protect their data and make informed decisions about their security posture.

DSPM is a powerful tool for organizations savvy enough to move to a data-first security mindset. Protecting the real target — data assets — is the single best way to stay ahead of the curve in today’s evolving threat landscape and take your data security to the next level. To learn more about data protection technology that bolsters organizations’ DSPM efforts, contact Sotero to learn more.


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