Can big data analytics reduce cyber risk?

The Information Security Forum (ISF) has released a report that recommends proactive, preventative big data analytics for businesses that want to increase business agility, improve information security and reduce cyber risks.

The report claims that the importance of big data analytics has never been greater – however few organisations recognise the benefits for information security.

Currently, only half of organisations surveyed by the ISF are using some form of analytics for fraud prevention, forensics and network traffic analysis, while less than 20 percent are using it to identify information related to subject matter requests, predict hardware failures, ensure data integrity or check data classification.

ISF researchers believe the ability to analyse large volumes of disparate and complex data can help senior and board level executives better understand and manage their risk/reward balance in cyberspace.

Ross Brewer, vice president and managing director, international markets at LogRhythm has made the following comments:

I’m not surprised that the ISF report has concluded big data analytics is “still immature and massively under-used’. With data volumes growing at unprecedented rates, it makes sense that “big data’ is an issue rapidly working its way onto corporate agendas worldwide. Unfortunately though, the focus often falls on how to limit the growth of big data.

While this is no doubt an area for concern, it causes many organisations to neglect the fact that the big data analytics can offer invaluable intelligence, and will actually help them greatly improve their IT security.

Indeed, as the amount of data increases, so does the complexity of IT systems. Throw in the fact that today’s cyber security landscape makes systems so much easier to penetrate and you can start to see the magnitude of the problem.

Unfortunately, organisations dealing with BYOD or other causes of data increases can get so distracted by security tools – or lack thereof – that they underestimate the value of the information already held within their internal IT systems. As a result, this data is all too often ignored, processed in an inefficient manner or used solely for reactive, forensic purposes.

Essentially, the only way to ensure that cyber threats or network issues can be immediately identified is to have a 360 degree visibility into every piece of data being generated by IT systems – no matter how big or how complex they are. Generally speaking, the bigger the IT estate, the greater the need for a proactive, continuous and granular view of all network activity. This helps organisations identify, isolate and remediate any issues as soon as they occur – making it essential to have centralised systems in place that can collect and analyse all IT data as and when it is generated.

Security aside, this also offers the deep insight and actionable intelligence required to ensure networks are running optimally and without performance issues. So, rather than shy away from the task of big data analytics, organisations must first understand the benefits that this intelligence can provide and then acknowledge that automation is the only way to effectively navigate the data labyrinth and truly optimise their IT networks.

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