DSPM vs. CSPM: Bridging the Gap with Posture Management

DSPM vs. CSPM: Bridging the Gap with Posture Management

By Contributing Writer
Uzair Nazeer
  |  October 03, 2023

Data is a valued commodity in today’s world that requires security at different levels to prevent attacks and exploitation from unauthorized personnel. The concept of data security and protection may be abstract for common people, but they still want to rest assured that the place where their sensitive data resides is secure. To provide this security, companies need to place the data in a location safe from any intrusion.

In this article, let’s explore where and how data resides, the type of security it requires and ways to prevent and mitigate potential threats.

DSPM and CSPM: A Brief Refresher

DSPM and CSPM stand for data security and cloud security posture management, and play an important role in locating the data, enforcing and complying with various policies and preventing data attacks. There are two main points to remember while talking about DSPM vs CSPM.

Firstly, DSPM deals with the overall organizational data’s assessment and protection, implementing security controls and end to end data protection, whereas CSPM emphasizes on the data located particularly on the cloud infrastructure, regardless of whether the cloud is public, private, or hybrid. Two, this effectively makes CSPM a subset of DSPM.

CSPM and DSPM in Practice: Reading Between the Lines

Organizations typically implement DSPM in conjunction with CSPM as an effective security strategy. Now that we understand the basic meaning of these terminologies, let’s try to capture more context about the same.

How DSPM Works

Since DSPM is a superset of CSPM, organizations can define policies to protect sensitive data, including the monitoring and compliance for certain data types. This is independent of the infrastructure. For instance, if a company has incorporated PII policy, they are obliged to encrypt all the personally identifiable information of their users. That technically means, all the PII data should be encrypted in the database. This makes sure that even during the times of data migration or data cloning, the policies are attached, and the encryption or any type of adherence stays intact.

DSPM abstracts away the need to know in-depth details of configuring an encryption or control access, one only needs to be sure of the type of the data they’re dealing with and how it should be secured.

As discussed above, the first step in preventing gaps in data protection is defining policies. The policies are defined based on the data stored, regardless of the underlying infrastructure. These policies are then converted into technical configuration that indicates to the user where the data security policy is not conforming, assesses issues according to their priority for resolution, and aids in resolving those issues by providing clear, detailed technical fixes.

How CSPM Works

On the other hand, CSPM extensively focuses on the cloud infrastructure, meaning CSPM is coupled with the cloud provider and relies on the metadata provided by the same to identify and report misconfigurations. To proactively identify and fix misconfigurations, CSPM systems rely on guidelines from standards like the Center for Internet Security (CIS), Payment Card Industry Data Security Standard (PCI (News - Alert) DSS), and the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST).

It helps in protecting cloud infrastructure including containers, VMs, databases and lambda functions. Unlike DSPM, the policies defined in cloud security are not copied when the infrastructure is changed - the reason being the identification of misconfiguration on the cloud is determined by the provider’s metadata.

In addition to alerting misconfigurations and regulatory compliance, cloud infrastructure is continuously monitored with CSPM solutions. Real-time monitoring makes sure that any discovered misconfigurations trigger instant alarms and provide quick alternatives for correction.

Improving the Overall Security With Posture Management

To improve the overall security posture, organizations should take a holistic approach by incorporating industry best practices. The following guidelines will help you firm up security and eliminate vulnerabilities from your overall security posture:

Perform End to End Risk Assessment

To discover potential vulnerabilities and dangers to both data and cloud infrastructure, organizations can start by completing a thorough risk assessment. An evaluation of data transportation, storage, access restrictions, and the cloud environment itself should all be part of this assessment.

Encrypt Sensitive Data

A simple yet effective no-brainer step is to use encryption techniques to secure sensitive data both at rest and in transit. This helps protect data even if unauthorized access takes place. Encryption should be used for data stored in the cloud, data in transit between cloud and on-premises systems, and data accessible by users.

Establish Reliable Access Controls

Create strong access controls to guarantee that only people with the proper authorization can access sensitive data and cloud resources. This involves employing secure authentication methods, implementing in place role-based access restrictions, and routinely evaluating and updating user privileges.

Establish Effective Backup and Recovery

Implement an effective data backup and recovery strategy to make sure that data can be restored in the event of data loss or system failure. Backups should be safely kept and regularly checked for accessibility and integrity.

Conduct Regular Audits and Assessments

Regular audits and assessments should be carried out to gauge the efficacy of the data and cloud security methods. Conducting compliance audits, vulnerability analyses, and penetration tests are a few of the methods that may be used to find any gaps or flaws that need to be fixed.

Teach Employees Best Practices for Data and Cloud Security

Lastly, as a rule of thumb it is a good idea to teach employees about best practices for data and cloud security, such as the value of secure data management, the use of strong passwords, and avoiding phishing scams. Employees can understand their role in preserving data and cloud security with regular training sessions.


CSPM and DSPM solutions, despite their differences, are both essential parts of a thorough cloud security strategy. CSPM and DSPM should be seen as complementary technologies that operate together to give a holistic approach to cloud security for today's cloud-centric enterprise.

Although CSPM is crucial for cloud security, combining CSPM and DSPM offers a higher level of defense against threats. To ensure that their cloud environments and data are secure and compliant, organizations ought to consider implementing both CSPM and DSPM solutions. By doing this, businesses increase real-time visibility into their data and cloud security postures, lower their risk of security events, and maximize their use of cloud security resources.

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