A deep dive in Cloud Security Posture Management: Comparing DSPM and CSPM

March 6, 2023
Mark Stone
5 min read

Cloud computing has revolutionized the way organizations store, process and share data. But with this transformation come new security risks. As more businesses turn towards cloud-based solutions, it becomes even more critical for them to ensure their environments are protected against external attacks and intrusions. 

With the rise of cloud-based SaaS solutions, application hosting, and both structured and unstructured data storage, protecting confidential information has never been more important. Complicating matters further, employees are accessing these services from various locations and devices using both corporate and personal accounts, sharing data regularly. Keeping track of where this data resides and who has access to it has become increasingly challenging. 

It is not uncommon for organizations to have 30 versions of a contract stored across five separate data repositories located across 15 different locations. 

This is where Cloud Security Posture Management (CSPM) comes into play. CSPM is a relatively new approach to cloud security that’s becoming increasingly popular within the security community. 

The need for CSPM 

Today, enterprises struggle with three key data challenges: 

  • Data growth is exponential  
  • Massive data migration to the Cloud 
  • Diverse types of data (such as financial, intellectual, and business confidential data, and regulated PCI/PHI data) are being used in increasingly complex environments

As cloud computing becomes the norm in many organizations, traditional security solutions designed for on-premise systems may not be sufficient in cloud environments. 

CSPM (Cloud Security Posture Management) has emerged as a solution to these new security risks. CSPM offers organizations an efficient means of recognizing and mitigating potential security risks within their cloud environments. 

The unique characteristics of cloud environments drive the need for CSPM. Clouds are highly dynamic, with resources and workloads constantly shifting. 

Traditional security solutions often struggle to keep up with the speed of change. On the other hand, CSPM solutions are designed for agility and flexibility so they can adapt easily and quickly to changes in the cloud environment. 

Most importantly, CSPM solutions offer real-time visibility into cloud security posture, enabling organizations to quickly detect and address potential security risks. Furthermore, they enable continuous compliance monitoring, allowing organizations to meet regulatory requirements as well as industry standards. 

What is CSPM? 

CSPM is a security approach that assesses the security posture of an organization’s cloud environment. It gives organizations real-time visibility into their cloud security posture, enabling them to detect potential security risks and take immediate remediation actions. 

According to Gartner, Cloud Security Posture Management (CSPM) solutions and services are designed to continuously monitor and manage the security of Infrastructure-as-a-Service (IaaS) and Platform-as-a-Service (PaaS) offerings in the cloud. The services are geared towards preventing, detecting, and responding to potential risks to the cloud infrastructure. 

CSPM solutions use an automated combination of tools and manual processes to assess the security posture of cloud environments. They scan cloud infrastructure – including compute, storage, and networking resources – for security vulnerabilities, misconfigurations, and compliance violations. Moreover, these solutions offer recommendations for remediation as well as ranking security risks based on severity. 

CSPM also helps organizations ensure their cloud environments are secure and compliant, reducing the risk of data breaches or other security incidents. Furthermore, these solutions enable organizations to maximize their cloud security spend by identifying areas where security can be enhanced while costs are reduced. 

CSPM benefits 

With AI and automation, CSPM can quickly detect threats and automate remediations, streamlining the entire process. It also monitors cloud resources across different environments like Azure, AWS, and Google Cloud. 

Here are a few key advantages of CSPM: 

Offer more control: Organizations have greater control over their cloud security policies and can guarantee their PaaS services and virtual machines remain compliant with evolving regulations. Through CSPM, users can apply their policies across management groups, subscriptions, and tenants. 

Provide a simplified and connected solution: CSPM can launch and configure across large-scale environments with AI and automation, enabling rapid threat identification, investigation, and remediation. It can also connect existing tools into a single management system, streamlining threat mitigation. 

Increase awareness: CSPM continuously monitors the security status of cloud resources across multiple environments, allowing organizations to assess assets across servers, containers, databases and storage. 

Lend assistance and provide recommendations: CSPM provides insights into an organization’s current state and can suggest improved security posture. It can also monitor and automatically apply legal and regulatory compliance changes, helping to reduce the attack surface. 

How does CSPM compare to Data Security Posture Management (DSPM)? 

DSPM graphic

While CSPM focuses on safeguarding an organization’s cloud environment, Data Security Posture Management (DSPM) prioritizes protecting an organization’s structured and unstructured data. DSPM solutions scan and monitor data to guarantee it is secure, compliant, and meets industry standards.

Plus, DSPM solutions give organizations real-time visibility into their data security posture – allowing them to detect and address potential data security risks or threats before they become major problems. 

The key difference between the two solutions is this: CSPM focuses on securing the cloud infrastructure, while DSPM focuses on securing the data stored in the cloud. 


Other distinctions: 

  • CSPM focuses on the security posture of cloud environments, while DSPM focuses on the security posture of data 
  • CSPM solutions typically integrate with cloud service providers, while DSPM solutions typically integrate with data storage and management solutions 
  • CSPM solutions are designed to identify and remediate security risks in real-time, while DSPM solutions focus on continuous monitoring and compliance 

Best of both worlds  

Despite their differences, CSPM and DSPM solutions are both critical components of a comprehensive cloud security strategy. For today’s cloud-centric organization, CSPM and DSPM should be viewed as complementary solutions that work together to provide a comprehensive approach to cloud security. 

Though CSPM is essential for cloud security, leveraging both CSPM and DSPM together provides a more robust level of protection from cloud threats. 

Organizations should consider implementing both CSPM and DSPM solutions to guarantee their cloud environments and data are secure and compliant.  

In doing so, organizations gain real-time visibility into their cloud security posture and data security posture, reduce the risk of security incidents, and optimize cloud security spend. 



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