Meeting CISO Priorities Head-On with DSPM

Data Security
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 Min Read
Last Updated:
October 19, 2023
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Catherine Gurwitz
Product Marketing Director, Sentra
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Access to and sharing cloud data is fast becoming the new reality, enabling enterprises to innovate quickly and compete better. But it also comes with a more complex data risk landscape. 

Information security leaders are grappling with a fresh set of priorities to handle cloud data challenges. They must strike the right balance between enabling business growth and securing sensitive data. CISOs, in particular, are exploring ways to empower employees and data handlers to naturally make secure choices and create controls that support them.

This shift requires a change in mindset that centers around trust. In a perimeter-less environment, concerns about how data is protected, used, and shared are vital factors influencing stakeholders' trust in an organization's data security management abilities. Recent findings from KPMG's "Cybersecurity Considerations 2023" study reveal that over a third of organizations recognize that building trust can boost profitability.

The study also claims that our future relies on data and digital infrastructure, creating a complex web of interconnected ecosystems and vast information networks. As our dependence on these systems grows, it increases the attractiveness of malicious actors seeking to exploit vulnerabilities. Regarding digital trust (the level of confidence people have in digital systems), it's crucial to understand that regulatory requirements will likely expand, raising the bar for transparency and accountability when protecting sensitive data.

DSPM is vital in navigating this changing landscape, aligning with CISO priorities to enhance data security in a world where trust and innovation are indispensable. The role of the CISO, VP information technology, chief security officers, and data security leaders is complex. 

DSPM is a proactive approach to securing cloud data by ensuring that sensitive data always has the correct security posture. It brings the context of sensitive data into risk assessments and profiling, making it a vital tool for navigating the intricacies and complexities of the data security landscape.

Let's look at some of the practical challenges and priorities facing Information security leaders today (as outlined by Gartner) and how DSPM is perfectly positioned to set up security teams and leaders to deliver against these challenging requirements. 

As CISOs tackle their multifaceted role, they grapple with several core priorities. These include reducing cybersecurity threat exposure, enhancing organizational resilience, aligning cybersecurity investments with tangible business outcomes, and optimizing the efficiency of security systems and talent. Reporting on cyber risk and evaluating cybersecurity's overall effectiveness are equally critical. 

However, these priorities come with their share of challenges. Striking a balance between immediate threat response and proactive risk decisions remains an ongoing challenge while staying abreast of the evolving threat landscape and best practices is crucial. Effective communication of security's value in business outcomes, especially to leaders from various functions and boards, is a persistent concern. 

According to Gartner, many organizations map cybersecurity investments to specific business outcomes and establish clear security metrics linked to business performance. CISOs are urged to adopt a more rigorous approach to prioritize security resources and evaluate investments.

Here's how DSPM supports the critical data security questions that are top of mind for CISOs and data security leaders:

1. Where is our sensitive cloud data, and is it sufficiently protected? 

DSPM immediately addresses this question by automatically discovering and classifying all sensitive data stores at speed and scale across multi-cloud environments such as AWS, Azure, GCP, as well as SaaS services such as Snowflake, Microsoft 365 and Google Suite. The breadth and granularity of coverage leave no stone unturned, ensuring that all sensitive cloud data is tracked down and accurately categorized within your organization.

Sentra's novel scanning approach uses minimal processing power, ensuring scanning speed and efficiency. This means that the CISO can always gain a clear and prioritized view of sensitive data from a dynamic data catalog that is continuously updated. With Sentra, the CISO can also rest assured that the data will never leave their cloud environment, removing an additional layer of risk. 

Sensitive data assets with a weak security posture are accurately identified, including misconfigurations, encryption types, compliance violations, backups, logging, etc. 

This fast, automated discovery, classification, and data security posture assessment will provide the CISO with all the information needed.

2. Can we quantify our data risks? 

CISOs need to understand the most severe data risks upfront. DSPM provides a data risk assessment with a quantification and prioritization of the actual risks. This helps CISOs prioritize their efforts when taking swift corrective actions. 

Context is everything when it comes to accurate data risk prioritization and scoring. Sentra's automated risk scoring is built from a rich data security context. This context originates from a thorough understanding of various layers:

  1. Data Access: Who has access to the data, and how is it governed?
  2. User Activity: What are the users doing with the data? 
  3. Data Movement: How does data move within a complex multi-cloud environment?
  4. Data Sensitivity: How sensitive is the data? 
  5. Misconfigurations: Are there any errors that could expose data?

3. How do we ensure compliance?

DSPM enables CISOs to align their data security practices with industry-specific data regulations and standards. This ensures the organization remains compliant and avoids potential legal and financial penalties.

Sentra assesses how your data security posture stacks up against standard compliance and security frameworks your organization needs to comply with. 

4. How do we proactively reduce the data attack surface?

A concern for CISOs is how to continuously reduce the data attack surface. They aim to mitigate their organization's overall risk profile by doing so. DSPM empowers CISOs with the tools and insights to proactively shrink the data attack surface while providing measurable benchmarks to track progress.

Sentra excels at identifying PII, PHI, and financial data across all cloud resources, including databases, storage buckets, virtual machines, and more. This ensures the prompt detection of compliance violations, making remediation efficient.

By continuously scanning and accurately classifying data, it becomes easy to spot anomalies. For example, you’ll notice when a new application version begins logging PII or when sensitive data is transferred from a production environment to an unsecured development system. Here are some practical examples of how to uphold a strong data security posture with Sentra:

  • Detect forgotten shadow data with the option to remove it or strengthen its security posture 
  • Identify inactive identities with access to sensitive data and disable them
  • Detect unencrypted credentials or authentication tokens within configuration files and secure them

These insights empower CISOs and their teams to take fast corrective measures, strengthening their data security posture.

5. How do we manage data access and third-party risks?

Safeguarding sensitive data hinges on maintaining precise control over identities, access, and entitlements. DSPM supports the indispensable role of precise data access controls, which is why Sentra supports a transition to fine-grained access controls tailored to your organization's needs. 

Achieving 'least privilege access' requires continuous monitoring and vigilant tracking of access keys and user identities to ensure that each user operates strictly within their designated roles and responsibilities.

Sentra offers businesses the capability to address risks related to third-party provider access proactively. Vulnerabilities are minimized from the outset by granting varying levels of access to different providers. Sentra quickly conducts impact assessments in case of a third-party provider data breach and facilitates immediate remediation to limit further exposure. Additionally, identity mapping to the sensitive data that can be accessed is provided. For instance, the CISO can monitor which internal users or third parties can access PII or financial data. With Sentra, questions like "Who within my organization can access SSNs and credit card numbers?" or "Which external users can access PHI?" can be answered efficiently, providing a comprehensive view of data access.

6. How are critical data risks being remediated?

DSPM is pivotal in providing prioritized remediation guidance keeping CISOs well informed and in control. For less complex issues, DSPM can often initiate remediation steps automatically, saving time and reducing the risk of human error.

Sentra assigns risk scores to identified data vulnerabilities, prioritizing them based on their potential impact. This prioritization ensures that CISOs can focus their efforts and resources on the most critical issues first.

7. How can we address resourcing challenges? 

Automation in DSPM offers many advantages that enable CISOs to address the ongoing skills shortage while bridging the talent gap in data security. By automating routine, error-prone, and time-consuming tasks such as data discovery, classification, and risk assessment, DSPM allows CISOs to maximize the value of their existing cybersecurity teams. It not only boosts operational efficiency but also minimizes the reliance on a large workforce. This is especially crucial in an environment where organizations need help finding and hiring qualified security professionals. 

DSPM ensures that the available expertise is utilized to its fullest extent by pivoting expertise toward addressing the most critical data vulnerabilities. Not only does this drive operational efficiency, but it also mitigates the friction induced by cybersecurity measures, reducing unnecessary effort and preserving employee productivity. Automation and an API-first approach can help streamline processes, reduce the risk of human error, and improve the efficiency of data security teams.

8. How do we communicate the business value of data security to the board?

A crucial responsibility for CISOs is to provide the board with a high-level update on prioritizing their most critical data risks. DSPM enables CISOs to furnish the board with comprehensive reports, allowing for a macroscopic view of security priorities and the capability to delve into granular details to address specific concerns.

DSPM's reporting capabilities make it easier for CISOs to communicate data security status to executives and the board. This facilitates speaking the language of business value and gaining the necessary support and resources.

DSPM is a proactive partner for CISOs, helping them maintain control over their organization's data security. It offers real-time insights, automation, and a structured approach to remediation, ensuring that CISOs can make informed decisions and stay ahead of evolving threats.

Author Image
Catherine Gurwitz
Product Marketing Director, Sentra

Catherine's 20-year career as a professional marketing leader spans product marketing/ GTM strategy, and PR/communications across many well-known organizations and different industries. She loves the art of collaboration. This means bringing together different perspectives to drive clarity, and applying just the right combination of creative and analytical thinking to excite market interest and drive bottom-line impact.

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