Friend or foe? Big data’s place in IT security

Data security fears have been widespread for several years now, as the world has seen massive increases in the frequency of major breaches and subsequent damages associated with identity theft. Big data and modern business intelligence solutions can be viewed as a double-edged sword in this discussion, as there are obvious concerns about the security implications of increased information volumes in storage, but also plenty of opportunities to use the tools for defense-related purposes.

In addition to the need for strong data preparation policies and capabilities, any company embarking on a big data venture will need to ensure that security and privacy are at the center of their efforts rather than approaching these matters as an afterthought. New threats will continue to emerge, and firms that diligently ensure continuous defense against threats will be in a better position to avoid bad press and financial loss while scaling up their big data strategies.

A new threat emerges
CSO recently reported that the hackers of the world are believed to be “building big data warehouses” of their own, in which they store massive quantities of stolen information, citing research from McAfee Labs. Since many of these individuals have strong backgrounds in analytics techniques and processes, CSO stated that the threat is expected to be a bit more significant than had the warehouses only been used to store information rather than analyze it.

Hackers are getting in on the big data action. Hackers are getting in on the big data action.

“Leveraging analytic techniques used in the world of big data, these criminals will look for links and correlations throughout their trove of stolen information, reverse engineering personal identities and selling that intelligence to the highest bidder,” McAfee Labs affirmed, according to the news provider. “This technique will enable thieves to circumvent commonly used techniques to verify identity – Social Security numbers, [birthdays], last four digits of credit cards, or answers to typical security questions – and essentially sell legitimate credentials and make it more difficult for security defenses to identify suspicious behavior.”

This, combined with the fact that many analysts worry about the ways in which companies protect their own big data assets and storage environments, shows just how complex the security arena is becoming as the years progress.

Big data as friend
ZDNet recently explained some of the ways in which Symantec is leveraging big data to improve upon its security solutions, with a specific focus on the use of analytics to bolster monitoring performance. According to the news provider, the company has been using these tools to predict breaches, identify events more quickly and speed up the process of reconciling the issues.

All businesses can leverage the technology for these same purposes, as predictive and real-time analytics can make a major difference in security performance so long as the tools are being used and managed properly. This begins with backend data management and information governance policy creation and execution, as well as the use of advanced tools to prepare, clean and position files for analytics utilization.