IBM snags Polar Security to boost cloud data practice


IBM acquired the Israeli firm founded in 2021 to grow its relevance in the nascent realm of data security posture management, or DSPM.

Exterior view of IBM sign at IBM Canada Head Office on May 16, 2018 in Markham, Ontario, Canada.
Image: JHVEPhoto/Adobe Stock

In an effort to grow its hybrid cloud and artificial intelligence capabilities, IBM announced on Tuesday that it was acquiring Polar Security, an Israel-based company specializing in data security posture management.

There’s been a brisk increase in cloud adoption since COVID, according to a release on the acquisition. IBM noted that the pandemic inundated companies with cloud data, leading to an epidemic, pardon the expression, of silos, one consequence of which is burgeoning “shadow data.”

Shadow data refers to potentially sensitive data that may have left the digital flock and wandered away into low-visibility nooks and crannies of the cloud.

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DSPM puts data back in the fold

A 2023 study by Gartner, looking at DSPM functions and capabilities, reported that DSPM solutions are getting savvier at uncovering data repositories and identifying their exposure risk, thanks to their ability to use data lineage to “discover, identify and map data, across structured and unstructured data repositories, that relies on integrations with, for example, specific infrastructure, databases and CSPs.”

Gartner also noted that DSPM technologies use custom integrations with identity and access management products to create data security alerts, “but typically do not integrate with third-party data security products, which leads to a variety of security approaches.”

What Polar Security does

The release characterized Polar Security as an agentless platform that connects within minutes and finds unknown and sensitive data across the cloud, including structured and unstructured assets within cloud service providers, SaaS properties and data lakes. It then classifies the found data, maps the potential and actual flow of that data and identifies vulnerabilities, such as misconfigurations, over-entitlements and behaviors that violate policy or regulations.


IBM said it will integrate Polar Security’s DPSM technology within its Guardium family of data security products in order to expand Guardium into a data security platform that spans all data types across all storage locations – SaaS, on-premise and in public cloud infrastructure.

Out of sight, out of mind

Eighty-six percent of security professionals polled in cloud-data security firm Laminar’s 2023 State of Public Cloud Data Security Report said they have increased visibility into the public cloud data.

The study’s respondents also said 77% of organizations have had their public cloud data accessed by an adversary over the past 12 months, up from 51%.

The study looked at how shadow data occurs across organizations:

  • Copied data not properly removed or secured remains in test environments.
  • Cloud everything-buckets, such as S3 backups, disappear from view.
  • Legacy data isn’t deleted after a cloud migration.
  • Logs full of sensitive data inadvertently exposed because they aren’t encrypted or access limited.
  • Data is stored in analytics pipelines via Snowflake or AWS.

Laminar Labs said that when it scanned public-facing cloud storage buckets, it found sensitive personally identifiable information in 21% of these buckets.

IBM’s 2022 report on the cost of data breaches found that globally, data breaches cost $4.35 million per incident, and in the U.S. that cost jumps to $9.44 million, with nearly half of breaches occurring in the cloud.

Risks to enterprise of data roaming beyond the perimeter

Forty-three percent of the 550 global organizations polled by IBM for its 2022 report stated they are just in the early stages or have not started implementing security practices to protect their cloud environments. The study also reported that businesses with no security practices across their cloud environments took 108 more days on average to identify and contain a data breach than those consistently applying security practices across all their domains.


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