Big Data is altering the way organizations must manage their overall IT assets and resources.
Big Data is altering the way organizations must manage their overall IT assets and resources.

Big Data is more than a buzzword for IT security experts. The emergence into organizations of these huge data sets has brought with it both new challenges and new opportunities in cybersecurity.

Indeed, there's no doubt that Big Data is altering the way organizations must manage their overall IT assets and that concern will keep pace with the growth of the data sets. With the global per-capita capacity to store information roughly doubling every 40 months since the 1980s, it's estimated that every day 2.5 exabytes (or 2.5x10 to the 18th power) of new data is created. Capturing, storing, searching, sharing and weeding through all that information is difficult enough – never mind securing and protecting it. 

Just ask email security vendor Agari, which offers protection to 2.5 billion email boxes across the globe for its clients. “We've seen Big Data driven to the extreme in the case of our online customers,” says Agari CEO Patrick Peterson. “It's becoming infinitely large.” 

However, on the flip side, Big Data can be a tool to help better protect an organization's resources as well. The Ponemon Institute last year authored a study, sponsored by Teradata, titled “Big Data Analytics in Cyber Defense,” which looked at how organizations might improve their cybersecurity defenses through the use of Big Data analytics and become more efficient in recognizing the patterns that represent network threats. (The Ponemon study also surveyed 706 IT and IT security practitioners in financial services, manufacturing and government agencies with an average of 10 years of experience.) Big Data analytics in security involves gathering massive amounts of digital information to analyze, visualize and draw insights that can make it possible to predict and stop cyberattacks.

While cyberattacks are getting worse, only 20 percent of respondents to the Ponemon survey said their organizations were becoming more effective at stopping these incursions. The study pointed up that, in short, “Big Data analytics + security technologies = stronger cyberdefense posture.” In fact, 82 percent of survey respondents said Big Data analytics combined with anti-virus/anti-malware – and 80 percent say anti-DoS/DDoS – would make their organizations more secure. But, it may take some time to get there as the study also found that while 56 percent of IT professionals are aware of the technologies that provide Big Data analytics and 61 percent say they will solve pressing security issues, only 35 percent have them in place. 

“Big Data has come to us very rapidly, and it means a lot of things to a lot of people,” says Chris Coleman, CEO of Lookingglass Cyber Solutions, an Arlington, Va.-based supplier of  threat intelligence monitoring and management. “While we have expertise in working with this data, we don't yet have enough expertise on securing the data…Because of the complexity, this is going to continue to be a major issue.”