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SSPM vs DLP Explained: Use Cases & Why You Might Need Both

Reco Security Experts
June 12, 2024
July 9, 2024
5 mins

What is SaaS Security Posture Management (SSPM)?

SaaS Security Posture Management (SSPM) is a tool designed to help organizations manage and secure their SaaS (Software as a Service) applications. SSPM provides visibility into the security settings and configurations of these applications. It helps ensure that they are set up correctly and securely. This includes monitoring user activities, configurations, and permissions to identify potential security risks.

What is Data Loss Prevention (DLP)?

Data Loss Prevention (DLP) is a strategy and set of tools aimed at preventing data from being lost, misused, or accessed by unauthorized users. DLP solutions monitor and control data transfer across an organization's network. They can detect potential data breaches and enforce policies to prevent data loss, ensuring that information does not leave the organization unauthorized.

SSPM vs DLP: Key Differences

While both SSPM and DLP aim to enhance security, they focus on different aspects:

Focus Concentrates on securing SaaS applications. It monitors how these applications are set up, how users interact with them, and what permissions users have. The goal is to ensure these applications are configured securely according to SaaS security best practices to prevent any potential risks. Focuses on protecting data from being lost or accessed by unauthorized users. It monitors how data moves within and outside the organization and applies policies to prevent data leaks or breaches.
Scope Deals primarily with the security of SaaS applications. It looks at the settings and configurations within these applications to ensure they are safe. Covers all data within an organization. This includes data that is stored (at rest), being sent or received (in motion), and being used or processed (in use).
Functionality Provides visibility into the settings and configurations of SaaS applications. It helps organizations maintain compliance with security standards by ensuring these applications are set up correctly. Detects and prevents data breaches by monitoring data transfer and enforcing security policies. It ensures that information is protected and handled according to the organization’s policies.

When You Might Need Both SSPM and DLP

Organizations might need both SSPM and DLP to ensure comprehensive security. Here’s why:

  • Holistic Security: SSPM handles SaaS security by ensuring they are set up correctly and securely. It looks at things like user permissions and settings within these apps. On the other hand, DLP protects the data within these applications and throughout the entire network. This means that while SSPM keeps the apps safe, DLP ensures the data is secure from unauthorized access and loss.
  • Compliance: Many organizations must follow specific rules and regulations to protect data, such as GDPR or HIPAA. Both SSPM and DLP help meet these compliance requirements. SSPM ensures that SaaS applications are configured according to these rules, while DLP makes sure that data handling practices adhere to the same regulations. Together, they ensure both the apps and the data within them meet compliance standards.
  • Risk Management: Using both SSPM and DLP helps manage and reduce security risks more effectively. SSPM focuses on risks related to how SaaS applications are set up and used, addressing potential app configurations weaknesses. DLP, meanwhile, focuses on preventing data leaks and breaches, ensuring that information doesn’t get out unauthorized. By covering both these areas, organizations can better protect themselves from various security threats.

SSPM Use Cases

SSPM and DLP both play critical roles in an organization's overall security strategy. By understanding the specific use cases of each, we can see how they complement each other to provide a comprehensive security solution.

App Discovery - Shadow IT

SSPM can identify unauthorized or unknown SaaS applications (often referred to as shadow IT) that are being used within an organization. By discovering these applications, SSPM helps ensure that all software in use meets security and compliance standards.

Configuration Management

SSPM tools help manage and enforce secure configurations for SaaS applications. They can automatically check for and correct misconfigurations that can lead to security threats.

Identity & Access Governance

SSPM provides governance over user identities and access permissions within SaaS applications. It ensures that users have the appropriate level of access and that there are no excessive or unnecessary permissions granted, reducing the risk of unauthorized access.

Event Monitoring - Detection and Response

SSPM continuously monitors SaaS applications for security events and anomalies. It helps in the early detection of potential security incidents and provides mechanisms for responding to these incidents quickly, minimizing potential damage.


Organizations often need to comply with various regulations such as GDPR, HIPAA, and others. SSPM tools help ensure that SaaS applications are set up according to these regulatory requirements. For instance, if GDPR requires that data is stored within the EU, an SSPM tool can check that your SaaS applications comply with this rule. This helps organizations avoid fines and legal issues.


SSPM provides clear insights into how SaaS applications are used, who has access, and what configurations are in place. For example, it can show which users have administrative access to critical applications or if there are any inactive accounts that should be removed. This visibility helps organizations manage their SaaS applications more effectively and reduce security risks.

DLP Use Cases

While SSPM focuses on the security of SaaS applications, DLP protects the data within and outside these applications. Here's how DLP use cases enhance an organization's security posture:

Data Protection

DLP tools prevent unauthorized access to personal/private data and ensure that it does not leave the organization without proper authorization. For instance, if someone tries to email a file containing confidential information outside the company, the DLP system can block the email and alert the security team. This helps protect information from being exposed.

Regulatory Compliance

DLP helps organizations comply with data protection laws by ensuring data handling practices meet regulatory standards. For example, if HIPAA requires that healthcare data be encrypted, a DLP tool can enforce this by scanning emails and files to ensure that any data is encrypted before being sent. This helps organizations avoid penalties and maintain trust with their customers.

Breach Prevention

DLP tools detect and prevent potential data breaches by monitoring and controlling data transfer across the organization. For instance, if a DLP system detects an unusual amount of data being downloaded to an external device, it can block the transfer and alert the security team. This helps prevent data breaches and keeps information secure.


In conclusion, SSPM and DLP are both essential tools for modern organizations looking to secure their digital assets. While SSPM focuses on the security posture of SaaS applications, DLP is centered on protecting data. Together, they provide a robust security framework that can help manage risks, ensure compliance, and prevent data breaches. Understanding the differences and use cases of each can help organizations implement a more comprehensive security strategy.

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