Big Data and Cybersecurity: Opportunity or Threat?

Suppose you write for a living. You write articles and blog posts for a number of clients. In the course of that writing, you have to do a lot of research, accessing data and information from all over the web. The inevitable happens. You get hacked or you pick up a virus. Fortunately, you use another computer for your banking, shopping, etc., so it’s only a matter of cleaning up your work computer and moving on.

The Threat of Gathering Big Data

Now, translate this issue to a large enterprise – one with hundreds of employees all on the same system, doing research, collecting big data from everywhere, in order to analyze customer behavior, to predict industry trends, and to grow its customer base. Hackers know what is going on, and so these oceans of big data and the people who access it are becoming prime targets. It allows them entry into an entire system, which could easily bring a large enterprise “down to its knees.”

As Rod Johnson, CEO of the writing service company, Trust My Paper, states, “Our business depends upon the confidentiality we promise to our clients. A breach of our system could ruin our reputation, which is built upon trust. Our other big fear is ransomware. Losing all of our proprietary data would destroy us.”

The Opportunity – Big Data Can Improve Cybersecurity Too

Here is what big data can also do. Businesses gather big data in order to do a number of things. They study the behavior of their target customers; they review trends in their niche; they develop products and services based upon the data they gather. Data analysis allows business decisions to be made scientifically, rather than just by “hunch.”

Companies in the cybersecurity industry also gather big data. They use this data inform about cyber attacks trends and methodologies. And then they refine existing products or create new ones, stress test them, and ensure that they will be valuable to end users. They can literally “train” their products, through data and artificial intelligence to identify the most prevalent types of cyber-attacks and to alert the end user of potential threats.

And with AI built in, patterns can be learned in order to flag suspicious behavior, alerting businesses early on or preventing attacks in the first place.

The Role of Big Data Centers

Data centers collect big data, analyze it, and both identify and ward off potential cyber-attacks. Their automated processes are able to gather and analyze millions of pieces of data every day, selecting an activity that can be construed as suspicious.

This data is also used to predict where, when, and against whom such attacks may occur. Thus, organizations can be alerted in advance. And, in many instances, such attacks are headed off without an organization even knowing the threat existed.

Incident Response

This is a critical piece of cybersecurity that is still in its development stages.

Data scientists are still creating algorithms to analyze data related to cybersecurity. But with all the data collected and analyzed, it is not enough, if response time is too slow. In fact, a 2018 Verizon report on 33,000 incidents of cyber- attacks, stated that, in most instances, it takes only a few minutes for a hacker to “get in” and, most often, just a few hours to do permanent damage – most commonly through ransomware.

Given these figures, the biggest challenge for big data security is in rapid incident response, so that damage can be avoided or at least minimized. Automated responses are the answer, of course. And these must be built into any data gathering and analysis system that an organization uses.

While automated incident response time has been much improved in recent years, more will still be accomplished in the near future. This should encourage organizations that better solutions are still on the horizon.

A Never-Ending Challenge and Opportunity

Cybercriminals are savvy and constantly devising new ways to breach organizational systems – small, medium, and large. And when these organizations access big data for information that can drive their business decisions, they leave themselves open to hackers who “live” and operate within that data.

Data scientists develop solutions based on the latest hacking trends and tactics. Hackers then develop new tactics in hopes that the current AI in use will not detect them before they are able to do their damage. In turn, new algorithms will be developed. This is a never-ending “dance” between hackers and data scientists, and there is no end in sight.

Last Word – Big Data is Both a Strength and a Weakness

You’re likely thinking that big data appears to be the way forward for cybersecurity and also a massive headache for cybersecurity. This is where you’re completely right because it does work this way.

You shouldn’t feel like you have to avoid big data because it could open up your systems to attack, but you need to be aware of both sides of the coin.

Trust in big data and you’ll be better protected against the threats the dark reaches of the web can bring.

How much do you know about big data cybersecurity?

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