Friday, June 21, 2013
3 keys to keeping big data safe
Big data analytics is, without a doubt, one of the most exciting technologies to hit the business world in recent years. With big data analytics, firms can gain critical insight from their unstructured and semistructured data resources. This includes web logs, social media messages, blog posts, sensor data and much more. With advanced analytics tools, these previously unusable information reserves have become valuable resources.
Yet big data poses a number of major challenges for firms. Obviously, companies need to invest in high-grade analytics tools to effectively mine the available data. Equally important, but less widely acknowledged, is the need for top-quality data protection solutions. Now that big data has become a valuable asset for companies, it has also become a major target for cybercriminals and hackers. Firms need to dedicate significant time and energy toward ensuring the security of their big data resources or else they may become the victim of a data breach.
Here are three keys to ensuring that a company's big data remains safe at all times.
1. Acquire the right tools
This may seem like a no-brainer, but it bears elaboration. Without effective tools, it is impossible for firms to adequately protect their big data from external threats. Specifically, companies need to invest in solutions that can protect data when it is both at rest and in transit.
In the former case, there are a multitude of options available to companies. Firewalls can play an essential role, warding off intruders and protecting the organization's network and data centers. Anti-virus and anti-malware solutions are also invaluable, as computer viruses are among the most common tools used by cyberattackers to steal information.
While the importance of protecting data-at-rest is fairly well understood, many organizations come up short when it comes to protecting data as it is being shared and distributed within the organization. This is a major oversight, as data is often at its most vulnerable when being moved.
That is why companies leveraging big data should also invest in high-grade secure file transfer solutions. Such tools can allow employees to send and receive big data sets and files without worrying about the integrity of that information, as it will remain completely protected at every stage of the process. Specifically, firms should look for secure file transfer options that not only guarantee protection but also are easy to use, as this will encourage employee adoption. If the programs are cumbersome, on the other hand, workers may disregard them, thereby putting the firm's big data at risk.
2. Educate personnel
This ties in to the previous point. For any cybersecurity strategy to be effective, whether it's focused on big data or any other digital resource, it is critical that all stakeholders be fully on-board with the policies implemented. Without complete and enthusiastic participation, there will inevitably be vulnerabilities in the firm's overall big data protection strategy.
Yet participation is impossible without education and training. Even if the solutions selected are simple - as they should be - employees need to have the specifics explained to them to ensure that there are no knowledge gaps. Additionally, by taking the time to educate workers, business leaders can effectively convey just how important big data security solutions truly are for the company's overall success. Without such a concerted, direct effort, employees may not appreciate the potential consequences and will therefore be lax with their use of these tools.
3. Have a plan in place
With the proper preparation, most businesses should be able to avoid ever experiencing a breach of their big data resources. However, it is wise to develop a plan to be implemented in the event that a breach is detected. With a quick-enough response time, firms can actually identify breaches as they are occurring and take steps to prevent the exposure of big data sets and files.
Additionally, organizations should devise a policy for responding to a data breach after it occurs. Ideally, such a plan will never be needed. If a big data breach does occur, however, the damage can be greatly reduced if the firm responds effectively, both in terms of actual changes to processes and crisis management on the public relations front.