Protecting Big Data from Cyberattacks

We are seeing an unprecedented increase in data breaches across organizations in both private and public sectors. The most recent cyber attack on Equifax, one of the major credit rating agencies, is equally alarming and frightening to millions of customers. Public or private data is no longer safe anymore.

We hear about more and more data breaches on a daily basis. The leaking of data from governmental organizations is also becoming very common. The advances in technology and innovations in social media tools have given birth to the concept of big data and big data oriented applications. The amount of data generated daily from social media, search engines, space technologies, robotic systems and other similar applications are extremely huge and are often categorized as big data. The volume of data itself pauses its own challenges. The new threats from cyber attacks are adding layers of complexity to big data and applications using big data.

Difficulty in Protecting Big Data from Cyber Attacks

Unlike regular data, it is not easy to protect big data and its sources from cyber attacks. The sheer amount of data prevents applications from adding encryption technologies, as it will reduce the performance of any applications running on top of these platforms. For example, a system that analyzes millions of transaction records real time cannot afford to add another layer of encryption protection to prevent potential cyber attacks. It slows down the system and thereby defeating the purpose of providing a real time service to its customers.

Possible Solutions to Add Security

Many companies are working on offering technologies that can be applied to prevent cyber attacks on big data oriented applications. For example, IBB offers IBM Z, which is a software that streamlines and automates security and compliance processes on big data oriented applications. The software offers audit trail that can trace the users who accessed the data. IBM Z aims to add layers of security and preventive checks without compromising the speed or performance of the underlying application or users. Other companies such as Symantec, Fire-eye and Palo Alto Networks also offer various types of solutions to prevent companies from becoming the target of another cyber attack.

Threats and Opportunities

We are living in an age of big data and cyber attacks. Big data offer opportunities to all kinds of businesses whereas cyber attacks could jeopardize potential advances from big data. Companies that employ big data and big data applications must adhere to strict standards in protecting sensitive data, especially personal information belonging to business customers. Studies indicate that monitoring solutions in today’s world of big data must analyze at least 5 GB of data per second to detect malicious content. This requires powerful processors and an increase in energy consumption in most of the data farms. In short, the solutions to protect big data from cyber attacks are neither cheap nor efficient.

Although big data is becoming even bigger and offer tremendous opportunities, it is increasingly difficult to tame the threats from cyber criminals. Some of the practical ways to minimize these threats include collaborating with partners and vendors, implement minimally disruptive encryption technologies, use of more open source tools and regular monitoring and reporting of logs. This is by no means a comprehensive set of prescriptions against possible attacks on big data. Big data analytics and big data professionals specializing in cyber attacks and security are required today more than ever. Businesses need to constantly adapt to new technologies and ready to innovate new solutions to meet the growing opportunities of big data while fighting the challenges from cyber threats. The attacks from cyber criminals will never stop, however, it’s up to the business and technology leaders to anticipate these attacks and plan for preventing major attacks. Governments and public policy also play a major role in preventing cross border cyber attacks. Prevention is far better than cure when it comes to data, big or small.

About the author

Kevin Faber is the CEO of Silver Summit Capital. He graduated from UC Davis with a B.A. in Business/Managerial Economics. In his free time, Kevin is usually watching basketball or kicking back and reading a good book.

Follow him on Twitter: @faber28kevin

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