Security in the times of big data and analytics

by May 5, 2016 0 comments

We are living in the data age which churns out multiple terabytes of data every day, and it is growing exponentially with each passing second. Government agencies, financial and healthcare organizations invest heavily in collection, processing and use of data in their respective fields. The data significantly helps in gaining actionable insights and chart out effective strategies.

With data being amassed at a rapid rate, there is a growing concern among organizations around the legal and ethical side of the usage. According to Gartner, the global spending on IT security is expected to be around US$101bn by 2018. Today, big data is scattered across different platforms including web, mobile and cloud-based applications. These sources are hacker-friendly and may lead to the loss of proprietary information and regulatory involvement.

The spurt in big data poses a substantial risk to companies for data breach and could considerably mar their reputation in the competitive marketplace. The recent ‘Panama Papers’ leak which exposed sensitive documents has not only sabotaged the reputations of many prominent figures but also put a big question mark on Mossack Fonseca’s internal security policy.

It is a high alert which necessitates the importance of a strong security infrastructure and vigilance. A growing number of companies have already implemented security tools to analyze the data flow. However, most organizations still grapple with these concepts and fail to secure their data.

Data security a high priority
Companies need to place high priority on data security when the data carries critical business and consumer information. About 51 percent of decision-makers have evinced security as a challenge for adopting digital technologies. Sectors such as banking and financial services, healthcare are highly vulnerable to fraud and intellectual property threats. The data thieves can surpass the conventional barriers such as firewalls, virtual private networks (VPNs), intrusion detection system (IDS) and Data loss prevention (DLP) systems. Smart cybercriminals can adroitly eclipse these defenses mechanism and steal sensitive information.

In order to outsmart them, organizations must use advanced security systems and techniques such as:

Integrating open-source software with security tools: Open-source technologies such as Hadoop and NoSQL have security flaws and were not created keeping data theft in mind. By using Zettaset Orchestrator, a distribution-agnostic cluster management platform, one can close the security gap.

Monitor and Control: It is not always the external enemies that pose risk to the organization. Cybercriminals do not have a religion. It is better to monitor multiple failed log-ins and doubtful activities in high-value systems and applications within the organization in order to mitigate the risk of frauds.

Dealing with Multiple storage spaces: With multiple storage points it becomes arduous to keep a track on all the activities, given the volume of data generated every day. Companies having multiple locations should have standardized security controls. Data sharing protections including encryptions and access-control techniques should be standardized across the organization to keep the data secure in the deep web.

Conducting Data Audit: Internal audit plays a critical role in assuring data security and privacy. Data thieves hack websites, smartphone and tablets, or steal them to use or sell in the black market for any amount. Companies which allow employees to use third-party websites, Google Docs or Dropbox in the workplace should have a stringent audit procedure.

Although the above proposed approach is not a panacea for all the security problems, it can considerably deplete the threat of a data theft. Besides, an organization should build a big-data security program which embraces an effective cyber security strategy backed with an expert staff. Consequently, the cyber security market is expected to grow with a Compound Annual Growth Rate (CAGR) of 9.8 percent to USD$170bn in 2020.

The road ahead
Data security breaches have surged considerably in 2015 with cyberattacks and financial gain being the key motives. Many Internet of Things (IoT) device manufacturers and service providers fail to implement common security measures in their products and services. IDC predicts 90 percent of all IT networks will face security breach in IoT in the time ahead. Moreover, the Panama Papers leak is no secret that cybercriminals are also eyeing business leaders and elite people.

The elixir to the situation is to build an effective big data security program and augment cybersecurity workforce. The global demand for the cybersecurity workforce is expected to rise to six million by 2019. Since big data is transforming the global landscape, it is important to traverse the security space equally in order to add an additional and effective layer to protect data from misuse.

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