Business Management

Christopher Burgess (Global) - "Secure the Data!" Big Data Analytics Can Help

"Secure the data!" That's the claxon call that every chief security officer (CSO) or chief information security officer (CISO) hears 24/7/365 coming from their CEO, their customers and their partners. In the 12th century AD, the methodology of choice to protect one's data was to place it within the castle-keep behind high walls designed to withstand the attack from catapults and battering rams. Then along came the counterweight trebuchet, and the concept of defense in depth behind a tall wall was forever changed.

Today, we are no longer able to fully isolate ourselves from the rest of the world and successfully conduct commerce. Instead we must embrace the change of our always on, always available society, with the full knowledge that it isn't a Pollyanna world out there, and your network, device or user may fall within the crosshairs of an unsavory ne'er-do-well, who is looking for a vulnerability to exploit. And we must do so within the context of the realization that the amount of data, structured and unstructured, is exploding. In the most recent Cisco Visual Network Index report (May 2012), it was estimated that global mobile traffic would reach 10.8 exabytes per month by 2016.

The combination of massive amounts of data (volume), coming from multiple sources (variety), at real time (velocity), causes angst as the bounds of size and structure limit effective analysis. But analyze we must, and we must be able to address the three basic areas every CSO/CISO wishes to be able answer:

  • Know where your data is - especially the crown jewels
  • Who is in the house? Anomaly detection
  • Many hands make light work? Industry collaboration

Proven advanced intelligence components are a key part of the big data analytic platform solution. Advanced analytics (natural language processing, machine learning, ontologies, plots and visualizations, information retrieval, data mining, and inference) are all key components of the analysis toolkit. The key is to access the unstructured data in real-time with near instantaneous analysis. The CSO/CISO must be able to search, recommend and classify large volumes of data, but the real payoff comes when the relevance of the data is revealed, and therein lays the return on investment.

The market is nascent, the big data analytic tools evolving, and the need growing. Sadly, there will be a shortage of 1.5 million data analytic managers and between 140-190,000 data analysts between today and 2016, according to The McKinsey Global Institute's "Big Data: The next frontier for innovation, competition and productivity". Right now, if not yesterday, entities either have to be educating their technical staff to the nuances of how to work with a variety of evolving infrastructure capabilities, or hire out the expertise. Having the ability to connect the silos of disparate data, allows for the connection of the dots, the revelation of vulnerable data stores and detection of anomalous behavior. In addition, they must engage their community, be it like-sized companies or similar sector and share. Share experiences, share warning signs, share raw network data and then marry the structured with the unstructured for the total 360-degree view.

In sum, the big data analytic toolset for use in addressing security issues is evolving and the evolution cycles are fast, furious and full of opportunity for the CSO/CISO to get aboard that analytics boat early.

By Christopher Burgess, COO & CSO, Atigeo LLC



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