CSPM vs. DSPM - Why Not Both?

Shahar Avraham, Product Management at Eureka Security
Shahar Avraham, Product Management at Eureka Security

As businesses continue to expand their cloud presence and rely on cloud services for their valuable data, it's high time we changed the manner in which we view cloud security. It's no longer just a recommendation; it needs to be a firm protocol within every organization. With the growing challenges in securing data within the cloud, it's time for companies to embrace a multi-layered approach to tackle this complex problem head-on. That's where the dynamic duo of DSPM and CSPM (two of the most rapidly growing security sectors) comes into play, offering a game-changing solution to develop and implement a robust cloud security strategy. In this blog, we'll dive headfirst into the benefits of integrating these two solutions, demonstrating how they work together to fortify your organization's cloud security posture.

While both CSPM and DSPM solutions identify new resources created in the cloud, alert on misconfigurations, and work seamlessly in multi-cloud setups without needing agents, that’s where the similarities generally end. From this point on, the two solutions diverge. While a CSPM delves into the cloud infrastructure and focuses on guarding the perimeter, a DSPM digs deeper into each resource to determine if it contains sensitive data and evaluates how exactly that data is accessed and protected.

How they differ

When it comes to securing your cloud infrastructure, CSPMs are the go-to. They keep a close eye on your environments, searching for any changes, misconfigurations, or vulnerabilities that could leave you exposed. With CSPM, you get centralized visibility across different cloud accounts and providers, helping organizations spot security gaps, enforce best practices, and stay compliant with regulations.

An important distinction should be made here now between CSPM and DSPM. While CSPM focuses on the overall cloud environment, DSPM ensures that your sensitive data is well protected and managed, no matter where it's stored in the cloud. DSPMs keep track of where your data is, ensure it's classified and labeled correctly, and closely monitor access controls and usage. They'll let you know if there are any misconfigurations or excessive exposure, helping you maintain compliance and validate security measures like encryption and retention. DSPM solutions are focused on the data itself - constantly identifying any new resources that have been added for the sake of identifying and classifying sensitive data that resides in them, tracking access to it and ensuring that any sensitive data is handled and accessed properly.

One size fits all?

Choosing the right security solution for your business requires understanding your specific needs and limitations. If your cloud environment is small, with a single provider and limited to no sensitive data, leveraging native cloud tools can help define and enforce basic security practices. For organizations with a larger cloud footprint, multiple resources, and sensitive data at stake, a CSPM tool will help reduce the security team's engagement with multiple systems, assist with monitoring and ensure compliance with cloud security industry standards while reducing the environment’s attack surface.  

But here's the thing: once sensitive data enters the picture, data-specific security solutions become a necessity. That's where DSPMs shine. They are designed specifically to protect your valuable customer and company data. Let’s compare it to eating dinner. Compare eating sushi at the local mall's food court versus enjoying a fine dining experience at a Japanese restaurant. Sure, while the former would be considered a meal - is it actually good enough to be called a real dinner? Back to security, why settle for “just a meal” when it comes to securing your sensitive data?

Why not both?

When it comes to choosing security tools, it's important to consider the unique aspects of your cloud environment and identify your organization's most valuable assets that need protection. DSPMs and CSPMs may overlap in certain areas, but they serve different purposes and cater to different needs. Instead of thinking of it as an "either-or" situation, it's more about using both systems to address your specific security priorities.

Let us compare CSPM and DSPM using an analogy of securing your house. Think of your cloud as the house itself, with all of your valuable possessions inside representing your data.  CSPM is like setting up a strong perimeter fence, alarms, and security cameras. In tech terms, It monitors the overall security of your cloud, making sure unauthorized access points are sealed off and vulnerabilities are patched, similar to protecting your house from unauthorized entry. Imagine DSPM as a high-end safe located inside. It securely stores your most precious possessions, protecting them even from potential intruders who may breach the exterior security measures. In tech terms, DSPM focuses on safeguarding sensitive data no matter where it resides, just as the safe ensures that your most valuable items remain protected. Additionally, DSPM will let you know that none of your valuables were left outside of the security perimeter (ie data drift). In reality, a true home security strategy doesn't rely solely on the fence outside or the safe; it's actually a combination of both. 

So, when searching for a security tool, consider factors such as the size, content, and purpose of your cloud environment, and identify the organizational “crown jewels” that require protection. It's also important to assess the main risks and threats your company faces. Whether it's a concern of a Denial of Service attack or a sensitive data leak, CSPMs and DSPMs will each serve their purpose, providing your security team with the necessary visibility, control, and compliance measures to ensure overall security. Ideally, organizations should allocate budget for both solutions since they complement each other. After all, they address different priorities and requirements.

A Deeper Look

Let's contrast and compare CSPM and DSPM in simpler terms:

  • They are typically agentless, meaning they don't require additional software installations.
  • They assess cloud configurations and compare them against security best practices to identify vulnerabilities.
  • They ensure compliance with industry regulations and standards.
  • They monitor user and service access to the environment to identify any potential risks.
  • DSPM focuses on protecting data across all environments, regardless of infrastructure, by identifying where sensitive data resides and managing its security.
  • CSPM specifically focuses on securing cloud environments, assessing the security of various resources based on their type.
  • DSPM takes a data management perspective, ensuring that data is properly handled, accessed, and protected.
  • CSPM looks at the infrastructure perspective, evaluating the overall security of the cloud environment.
  • Both practices use a risk management approach to identify and mitigate potential threats, but they have different focuses within that process.


To sum up, both DSPM and CSPM are essential enablers of security best practices that enable organizations to safeguard their data and meet security requirements. DSPM takes care of data protection across all environments, while CSPM hones in on specifically securing cloud environments. 

Here are 4 example use cases to illustrate when you should use CSPM alone vs. DSPM alone vs. both:

  1. An organization which uses only cloud compute resources and doesn't store any sensitive data in a cloud environment - You would probably only need a CSPM solution.
  2. An organization leverages DBaaS solutions (such as Snowflake or Atlas) and has a minimal compute footprint in the cloud - You would need a DSPM solution to make sure sensitive data is managed and handled securely.
  3. Your organization is regulated and is going through any audit process in which sensitive cloud data is relevant (SOC2, HIPPA, PCI-DSS or GDPR) - DSPM and CSPM would truly secure both your cloud environment and data in it.
  4. If your organization stores data in a centralized data lake and needs granular visibility into access & usage to this data lake -DSPM and CSPM would truly secure both your cloud environment and data in it.

Together, DSPM and CSPM form a solid foundation for maintaining the security for an organization's valuable data and the infrastructure holding it.

Eureka Security- Cloud data security- Crown logo

Subscribe for updates

For our latest feature releases and updates
Thank you for signing up!
Oops! Something went wrong while submitting the form.
Eureka security Solution brief

Download Eureka solution brief

Learn more about how Eureka can help you
Get it now

Drive secure & compliant data growth

Get a Free Risk Assesment