Big data adoption has been huge in recent years. Not only are more companies getting into big data solutions or are planning to use the same for their businesses, there are also more use cases for big data solutions now. It is no longer just used to come up with insights that help you with business decisions, or knowing more about your operations and customers. Big data is also now used for security.
There has been a lot of talk on how you can use big data for security, but one thing that most people seem to have gotten wrong is the fact that you can only use big data to gain insights into your vulnerabilities and flaws, not as a way to make your systems more secure.
To use a real life analogy, big data acts more like a crime scene investigator. It is actually the police that captures criminals and puts them behind bars. In the event that your systems are hacked and valuable data are stolen from your systems, big data solutions can help you uncover what really happened and where things went wrong.
You cannot use big data alone to prevent hacking
However, you cannot use big data to prevent a hacking attack. It is not a proactive solution to hacking and data breaches, which will leave you with compliance issues, disgruntled customers, penalties, fines and maybe even lawsuits.
There are people who say that you can use big data services to detect a breach or even stop before it happens. That is quite misleading.
Big data services, by itself, is not going to secure your systems.
What people need to understand is that threats and vulnerabilities are changing every minute. Hackers are getting more creative and there is an exploit discovered every single day. Hackers can easily adapt and find new weaknesses in your system, even if you are able to patch things up using the things you learned from an attack.
Also, big data services might not be enough to stop a hacking attack if such attack is because of stolen credentials from your employees.
These login credentials are legitimate and if this kind of data falls into the wrong hands, no amount of big data analytics would be able to stop them from getting into your system.
Big data services would be able to tell you that hackers were able to gain access using compromised but legitimate log in credentials. There are several ways for them to get their hands on these credentials: possibly via social engineering tricks, sending a phishing e-mail, or even with the cooperation of your employees themselves. Big data can help you find out which particular strategies hackers have used.
Big data is not enough
However, while it is very important to use big data services to help you gain insights into cyber security, it is not enough. You might want to train your employees regarding the best practices involving cyber security. These trainings can be as simple as showing them how it is like to receive a phishing e-mail or by showing them which e-mail links they need to avoid clicking.
Still, humans make mistakes. It is easy for an employee to unknowingly leave login credentials when they are tired or in a hurry. They may have their planners or smartphones stolen and these may have their login credentials written or stored in them.
Moreover, it is almost impossible to prevent a disgruntled employee from giving their login credentials over to hackers.
Work with a reliable big data consulting firm
All these do not mean that you should just give up on using big data solutions to improve your cyber security. If anything, you should work with big data consulting firms to make the most out of your big data investments. And the good news is that you are dealing with technology and when there is something lacking, technology in another form will always come to the rescue.
Machine learning to the rescue
In this scenario, you have machine learning saving the day. Machine learning will help augment what big data solutions lack. With machine learning in place, you are not going to be on the offensive AFTER the hacking attack. Instead, machine learning can detect if there is a threat that came with an attack, can tell if there is an attack going on, and can even alert you in case of a data breach or can shut down the systems to help you avoid bigger damages and more data being stolen.
It may also be a bonus that machine learning is suited perfectly for big data services. Machines can easily analyze and get insights from your data, better and faster than any human can. Machine learning is also able to make predictions so you are no longer just reacting to vulnerabilities; you can anticipate them. Machine learning can detect whether there is a hacking attempt where stolen login credentials are used and alert you to this fact after stopping the attempt.
Machine learning systems can monitor every process and application that the user is doing while logged in. It can compare a current session with previous sessions to determine whether it is a normal session or a hacking attempt. The system will be able to lock out the user if it detects a pattern of activity that is different from what the user normally does.
Machine learning could easily detect if the login credentials are being used offsite when it’s meant to be used only by a user inside the office. Or if the user is accessing systems that they don’t have credentials to access to. Just about anything out of the ordinary would be reason for the user to get locked out, until your IT team has investigated the possible breach.
Tie your big data solutions with machine learning technology so that you can get the best of both worlds when it comes to cyber security. You have the ability to get insights from the data you generate while also getting the ability to be proactive.
Taking the analogy further, big data solutions would serve as your crime scene investigator, but machine learning would be your security guard or patrolling cops: monitoring your systems, enforcing your policies and then stop the hacking as it happens.
Call Four Cornerstone at +1 (817) 377-1144 if you want to make your big data solutions work with machine learning to have better control on your cyber security.
Photo courtesy of Thomas Hawk.