In the past, the concept of harnessing vast amounts of business information and analyzing it for helpful insights was something straight out of science fiction. Where and how would all this data be stored? And how could one possibly pour over this seemingly boundless sum of content and ever expect to draw parallels and come away with beneficial observations?
Now, however, big data is something leveraged by nearly every large company. The cloud has made storing this content relatively simple, and automated programs and tools have been established to troll through every piece of information to gather intuition and understanding.
Today, big data approaches are being applied to almost every aspect of an enterprise. It’s being used to gain insights about customers and their demands, as well as about the market or industry as a whole. Organizations are gathering and analyzing the information they have on hand to get a better picture of their sales, production or nearly any other processes they have in place. In the current landscape, big data is not only a popular strategy, its commonplace.
One area that is just now being impacted by big data analytics, however, is information security. Most often, when the words ‘security’ and ‘big data’ appear together in a sentence, it’s to say that businesses need to secure their big data repositories against hacker intrusion. However, that coin has since been flipped, and now companies are utilizing their big data to bolster their protection measures and ensure they are ever-vigilant and ready to respond to an attack.
A result of the current threat environment
Today, it seems a threat to enterprise security lies around every corner. Oftentimes, this thinking isn’t considered paranoid as new malware strains and infection strategies emerge literally every day. As a result, firms are turning to big data in order to predict where cybercriminals will strike next and be prepared to fight off an attack.
“The dissolution of traditional defensive perimeters coupled with attackers’ abilities to circumvent traditional security systems requires organizations to adopt an intelligence-driven security model that is more risk aware, contextual and agile,” stated a white paper from EMC and RSA Security. “Intelligence-driven security relies on big data analytics. Big data encompasses both the breadth of sources and the information depth needed for programs to assess risks accurately and to defend against illicit activity and advanced cyber threats.”
In this way, groups are leveraging big data as a means to gain a more complete picture of their threat level, as well as the risks that could impact their systems. All of this comes as a result of hacker intrusions, and presents a more advanced, intuitive way to be proactive when it comes to cyber crime.
A big data security revolution
Currently, using big data for improved security is only in place within a small percentage of firms. However, Gartner predicted that a shift will occur in the enterprise sector in the near future which will see increased utilization of big data for information protection.
According to Gartner, big data will represent a vital piece in the security detection puzzle within the next two years. By 2016, over a quarter of companies will put in place big data analytics techniques for security or fraud detection purposes. Currently, Gartner estimates that only 8 percent of businesses have such an approach established.
“Big data analytics enables enterprises to combine and correlate external and internal information to see a bigger picture of threats against their enterprises,” Cloud Times contributor Saroj Kar pointed out. “it is applicable in many security and fraud use cases such as detection of advanced threats, insider threats and account takeover.”
As a result, experts predict that many aspects of the security industry will change, including network monitoring, authentication and identity management, fraud detection, and compliance systems. In addition, protection measures like firewalls and anti-malware programs will also shift. Overall, the changes here will largely revolve around new predictive abilities and automated security controls, Kar predicted.
The EMC and RSA Security white paper echoed Gartner’s big data security forecast, predicting that within two years, analytics will have an impact on a range of protection processes including security information and event management.
“In the next three to five years, we predict data analytics tools will further evolve to enable a range of advanced predictive capabilities and automated real-time controls,” the white paper stated.
A need for educated personnel
Although many experts are predicting the emergence of security tools that hinge on big data analytics, Kar pointed out that the number of educated data scientists available to leverage these programs is not growing at the same rate.
“Data analysis is an area where internal knowledge of the staff may be lacking,” Kar wrote. “The data scientists who specialize in security are few, and will continue to be in high demand.”
As a result, Kar predicts that many firms will turn to outsourced partners to aid them in their big data security initiatives. However, if companies adequately prepare themselves and their staff members, this may not be necessary.
It is always beneficial to have an expert in house as opposed to relying on someone outside of the organization. According to many forecasts, businesses still have a full two years before these analytical protection tools become mainstream. In the interim, administrators should look to educate staff members on the emerging big data-based security processes. In this way, they will be ready when these programs are widely available.