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5 Questions to Consider when evaluating DSPM Solutions

As businesses become more aware of the importance of data security, the DSPM market is rapidly expanding. Gartner, in its latest Data Security Hype Cycle” report, explained the term “Data Security Posture Management” as an emerging category of solutions. In that definition, Gartner highlighted that DSPM solutions enable your businesses to:

  • Inventory, classify, and protect their data
  • Prevent data breaches and;
  • Ensure compliance with regulations.

However, when you want to set up a DSPM solution, you must be able to differentiate between vendors. As the number of vendors continually increases, it might be difficult to know the right vendor to go for. Therefore, when evaluating a DSPM solution, it’s important to know which questions to ask. This guide will provide 5 key questions to assist in the process and help make an informed decision that best suits your organization’s needs. Asking these questions will give you insight into the features, capabilities, and potential impact of the DSPM on your business so you can ensure successful data protection and compliance with applicable regulations.

Irrespective of the stage you are in, whether you are just getting started with a DSPM solution or looking to upgrade the one you currently use, this guide will provide you with the information you need to make a calculated decision for your business.

Q1: What are the DSPM’s capabilities, and are they relevant to your business?

When evaluating a DSPM solution, it is crucial to consider its features and capabilities and determine if they align with your business goals. Some key features to check include data catalog, data flow map, risk management, policy management as well as integrations.

Data catalog

A data catalog is a DSPM capability that allows you to inventory and classify your data. Taking inventory and classifying data is vital to protect your business-sensitive data effectively. Cataloging your data helps you better understand what sensitive data you have (E.g., PII, PHI, PCI, etc.) and where it is located (in which DBs, services, SaaS providers, etc.). This allows you to take appropriate measures to protect it, such as implementing access controls and encrypting sensitive data.

Data flow map

Identifying potential risks that affect your critical data in real time will enable your security team to take action against possible data breaches and set up formidable mitigation strategies against the risks. 

A data flow map plays a significant role as it is a crucial feature of a DSPM solution that improves your security team’s threat detection and mitigation efforts. This is achieved by showcasing the movement of critical data within your organization’s environment.

It provides insight into where the data is being accessed and by whom. For example, a data flow map helps you discover that more users than necessary access a particular database. Unnecessary access to your business data increases the risk of a data breach. Implementing a data flow map helps solve this by identifying and addressing these potential risks before they become a problem.

Risk management

Risk management is a core component of any DSPM solution. Taking proactive steps to identify and address potential vulnerabilities can be invaluable for protecting sensitive data, whether it’s through implementing access controls, encrypting sensitive data, and regularly monitoring your data flow to identify potential risks. By investing in effective risk-management strategies, you have the opportunity to mitigate costly breaches before they occur and protect your sensitive data.

Policy management capabilities

The policy management capabilities of a DSPM solution allow you to design and enforce policies that protect your data. These policies can include managing the access users have to your data and preventing unauthorized or accidental sharing of sensitive data with external services or third-party. For instance, you may establish a policy that outrightly permits specific users to access confidential data and another policy that prevents PII data from being shared with external SaaS providers without explicit permission.


Integration is an important feature that makes a DSPM solution. Synchronizing other systems with the DSPM provides a holistic view of all data and its security posture.  This allows you to identify potential risks and take steps to mitigate them more effectively. Let’s assume you sync your DSPM with SIEM; you can detect possible security threats and establish proactive steps to prevent them.

For proper evaluation of a DSPM solution, it’s important to ask the vendors the following about the capabilities of their DSPM solution and how they relate to your business:

  • What data cataloging and classification capabilities does the DSPM have?
  • Can the DSPM provide a comprehensive view of your data flow, including external services and unmanaged shadow databases?
  • What risk management capabilities does the DSPM have, and how effective are they at identifying and mitigating potential risks?
  • What policy management capabilities does the DSPM have, and how effectively are they enforcing policies to protect your data?
  • Can the DSPM integrate with other systems, such as your SIEM, to provide a more comprehensive view of your data and its protection?
DSPM’s capabilities: Data catalog, Data flow map, Risk management, Policy management capabilities, Integrations

Q2: Does the DSPM analyze data flow? How is that done?

Data flow analysis is a crucial capability of a DSPM solution. Data flow analysis allows the DSPM to have wider coverage which includes external services, unmanaged shadow databases, and processed data. When evaluating a DSPM solution, be sure to confirm that the DSPM performs data flow analysis based on actual data parsing and not just logs. Actual data parsing provides a more comprehensive and accurate data flow analysis. Hence, be sure to ask every DSPM vendor that claims to provide data flow mapping whether it is based on actual payload analysis in real-time, or only by parsing logs.

One of the most significant benefits of data flow analysis is that it allows the DSPM to gain a deep understanding of the journey, source, ownership, and business context of data. This provides valuable insight into how the data is being used and can help detect any potential risks. For instance, if it is found that external services are accessing sensitive customer information without the right authorization, it can alert you to this risk and put measures in place to protect the data.

Another benefit of data flow analysis is that its indispensable in detecting risks that would otherwise go unnoticed. Suppose an external service is accessing your data without you being aware of it or with no authorization. In that case, the DSPM will recognize this and send an alert about the potential danger. Similarly, the DSPM can identify an unmanaged shadow database being accessed by unauthorized individuals and inform you about any security threats.

Furthermore, data flow analysis helps the DSPM monitor data flow in real-time. This means that the DSPM can detect potential risks and take action to mitigate them in near-real-time. This is particularly important in today’s fast-paced business environment, where data breaches can happen quickly and can have significant consequences. Detecting data breaches in real-time helps to quickly battle the issues and prevent or reduce the impact of such breaches.

Benefits of data flow mapping

When evaluating a DSPM solution, it’s important to ask the vendor about their data flow analysis capabilities. Some questions you can ask include:

  • Is the DSPM data flow mapping capability based on payload analysis of the data flows, or is it based solely on logs?
  • Can the DSPM detect potential risks in near-real-time?
  • Does the DSPM have the ability to alert relevant stakeholders when potential risks are detected?
  • Can the DSPM take action to mitigate potential risks in near-real-time?
  • Does the DSPM have the ability to monitor the flow of data across all systems, including external services and unmanaged shadow databases?
  • What data flow analysis techniques does the DSPM use, and how effective are they at detecting potential risks?

Q3: Where does the DSPM analyze data?

When making a choice of a DSPM solution, it’s important for you to know where it analyzes its data. This is because the location of the data analysis impacts the security of your data as well as the overall effectiveness of the DSPM solution implemented for your business.

It is necessary for the DSPM to analyze data within the customer’s environment securely without sensitive data leaving the environment. This ensures the protection of sensitive data and retains customers’ control over their data.  Additionally, the DSPM should analyze data in place, without moving the data around. This can help to reduce the risk of data breaches and protect sensitive data.

Coming down to data classification, the DSPM should categorize it locally and keep it from being moved around. This way, the dangers of data breaches can be minimized and your sensitive information can be better safeguarded. Making use of both manual and automated classification makes sure that the data is classified correctly which in turn, helps ensure that the DSPM provides thorough coverage for your delicate data.

For a full assessment of the DSPM solution, it is important to ask the vendor about the location and classification of data. Listed below are some questions you can ask:

  • Does the DSPM analyze data within the customer’s environment without sensitive data leaving the environment?
  • Does the DSPM analyze and classify data in place without moving the data around?
  • Does the DSPM use a combination of customized and automatic classification to ensure accurate classification?
DSPM analyze data in a client environment and without moving the data around

Q4: How frictionless is the DSPM?

When evaluating a DSPM solution, you must consider how frictionless it is. Frictionless refers to the ease of use of the solution and its ability to integrate seamlessly with your existing systems and processes.

A frictionless DSPM is essential, as it ensures uninterrupted operation when integrated with your current systems and processes. It also helps to ensure easy implementation of the DSPM solution without requiring extensive training or transforming existing structures within your organization. Moreover, a frictionless DSPM should integrate with other security tools and systems, such as SIEMs, to provide a comprehensive view of the posture of your business data security.

To comprehensively assess how frictionless a DSPM solution is, here are some questions you should ask.

  • How easy is the DSPM to use?
  • Does the DSPM require extensive training or changes to existing systems and processes?
  • Can the DSPM integrate seamlessly with my existing systems and processes?
  • Can the DSPM integrate with other security tools and systems, such as SIEMs and ticketing systems?

Q5: Does the DSPM feature any additional cloud costs?

When selecting a DSPM solution, it’s essential to consider the extra cloud costs that may come into play. Data scanning can be quite costly if dealing with hefty data volumes – something worth being aware of before settling on any particular option.

Knowing the actual cost of using a DSPM solution, including potential expenses like support and maintenance fees, will help you make an informed decision on whether it is the best option for you. Not only that, but you can also understand the value and the returns on investment (ROI).

 The following questions are crucial to ask when assessing a potential vendor:

  • What are the extra cloud costs related to scanning data?
  • Are their hidden costs related to the DSPM solution, like support and maintenance costs?
  • What is the similarity between the costs and what happened in the market?
  • Can you share the pricing data for different packages of coverage and data scanning?


Ultimately, there are several essential factors to consider when selecting the perfect Data Security Posture Management (DSPM) solution. Appraise its capabilities and data flow analysis before assessing whether access is necessary and where data should be analyzed for optimal use. Additionally, take into account how frictionless it will make operations as well as any potential cost implications associated with using cloud services – by doing so you can have peace of mind that your business’s data security needs are met.

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