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Do Security Professionals Really Need Big Data?

From sales analytics to healthcare records, big data seems to be everywhere these days. It is being used in various industries with general success as it has begun to transform IT, so it can be tempting to want to jump on board the trend. Big data plays a large role in the security space, but do security professionals really need big data? Yes and no. In many cases it may come down to the data strategy, not the data size. There are two basic approaches to securing big data: staying small and strategic, or leveraging big data for a broader approach. Either approach can be successful, but it is up to the organization and security professionals to strategically decide how much big data they actually need.

Small and Strategic

True to its name, big data tends to involve a lot of data. In many cases, it can be nearly impossible for security professionals to keep up with protecting the data throughout the entire enterprise infrastructure and network. Generally, the more highly regulated the company or environment, the more work it takes for security professionals to monitor, analyze, and protect the data, meaning data that needs to be protected the most is often left vulnerable.

At the same time, regulations regarding big data are increasing, meaning it now takes more time and effort to stay on top of data in the right way that complies with regulations from both inside and outside the organization. This is especially true for breach notifications and auditing, with an upcoming GDPR code stating that organizations must provide notification of a cyber attack within 72 hours of it happening.

With all that in mind, it seems overwhelming for security professionals to have to monitor big data. However, a growing number of professionals are having success by focusing their efforts on the most sensitive data and identifying and stopping potential attacks. When professionals can focus their efforts on determine the scope of a potential breach, they can be more accurate in their predictions. Pinpointing certain threats requires that professional capture and record all of that data within those conversations, but doing so helps to know what devices are involved and to what degree, when the breach started and ended, and which files were accessed. Changing the approach to focus on specific areas can save organizations hours of response time after an attack and potentially tens of thousands of dollars.

Big and Mighty

At the same time, however, big data provides security professionals with better tools and resources than they’ve ever had. With things like intelligent video analytics, these professionals can easily and more accurately protect both physical and digital systems.

Much of the information stored in big data systems is sensitive, and hackers are getting smarter as the systems continue to grow. Instead of focusing on attacking the most sensitive pieces of data, hackers can also gain access by taking a roundabout approach and entering a secured network through information that isn’t as noteworthy. Put another way, if a security professional is only targeting his watch over the most sensitive data, a hacker could come in through a door left open unnoticed and take down the entire system. However, with big data security monitoring systems, those threats can be recognized and addressed automatically. One of the hallmarks of big data is machine learning and being able to adapt. This can be incredibly powerful as threats evolve and change.

Big data can also be useful in monitoring who is accessing data. Some of the largest corporate hacks have come by employees forgetting to change their password or by someone who was accessing part of the database they shouldn’t have reached. Keeping an eye on who is allowed to access data and who is actually accessing data is much easier with big data analytics.

Big data definitely has its place, and it can be a powerful tool in monitoring basic data. The key to successfully leveraging big data in a security setting is to be strategic—some professionals might find more success staying small, while others can take advantage of the big data offerings. No matter the choice, be sure to make a decision that is right for protecting your company’s assets.

Contributed by: Linda Gimmeson, a tech writer with a focus in big data, machine learning, & IoT. Linda discusses big data, emerging technologies, and how companies can get real value out of their data.

 

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