Big Data Security Concerns

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May 7, 2015 by Updated May 6th, 2024


Big data is more than just some trending business phrase that’s big on style and low on substance; it brings with it tangible benefits for any company willing to use it. The advantages of leveraging big data are real and oftentimes far-reaching, which is why so many organizations have adopted big data for their own operations. But that doesn’t mean big data has prepared a paved road to the future. Pitfalls are still plentiful, and few represent as much of a problem as big data security. Businesses may be willing to use big data, but they must also be aware that security remains a top concern. This is in part because technology is advancing so rapidly that the solutions to security problems often fall behind. If a business wants in on the enabling world of big data analytics, it’ll need to be aware of some of the biggest security concerns first.

Designed Data Security

Big data gives many businesses capabilities they didn’t have access to before. That’s one of the main draws of using massive amounts of data, but unfortunately, big data and many of the platforms that use it weren’t designed to address security concerns. That means many platforms don’t have encryption, policy enablement, compliance, risk management, and other security features built-in. If organizations want to ensure their data is secured, they’ll need to see to it on their own by building those features themselves.

Data Anonymity

Many customers may feel uncomfortable with the idea that businesses are able to collect such detailed information about their identities, behaviors, motivations, and other sensitive facts. Some companies respond to these concerns with data masking policies and aggregating data sets, but those methods aren’t always effective. Those with the right equipment could put data sets back together in order to re-identify individuals. Taking away privacy could lead to increased security risks, especially if the data involved contain sensitive corporate information.

Big Data Complexity

One of the leading causes of big data security problems can be summed up in one word: variety. The more complex data sets are, the more difficult it is to protect. Big data diversity can come from several different areas. Data forms could be structured or unstructured. Data sources may originate from email files, servers, cloud applications, mobile device data, and much more. Data consumers can be anyone from high-level executives to customers and business users. More diverse data simply means more work is needed to protect it.

Data Breaches

Home Depot. Target. Neiman Marcus. JP Morgan Chase. These are just a few of the many data breaches that have occurred recently. Large amounts of data are a goldmine for cybercriminals, and companies that collect and store it are big targets. The recent Sony hack is another example, with experts estimating as much as 100 terabytes of data were stolen or leaked. Data breaches are now far too common and will likely not go away anytime soon.

Data Security Funding

One would think the increase in cyber attacks would mean increased spending on IT security to protect big data, but that’s not always the case. Most experts agree that around 10 percent of a company’s IT budget should be spent on security, but the average is under 9 percent. Without the requisite resources, organizations will find it harder to protect their companies’ data.

Big Data Skills Gap

Solving these security problems would be possible even with limited resources if the right people for the job were on it, but many businesses are experiencing a big data skills gap. Too few people who are data experts and data scientists are on staff, making it that much more of a challenge to address security shortcomings. It has become difficult to find the right people with the right skills to handle the work, which only increases the severity of the problems.

Data Brokers

Even if a company goes to great lengths to protect big data, if they sell some of that data to third parties, risks could increase. Currently, there are few laws that address brokered data, which certainly compounds the problem. There are also a few ways to make sure data brokers are held accountable for the data exchanged between parties, making it an even more challenging task to ensure all big data is protected.

Based on these concerns, it’s easy to see why so many organizations are worried about big data security. With enough resources, skilled workers, a detailed big data strategy, and a commitment to customer privacy, many of these concerns can be directly addressed. If these problems are solved, businesses will be in a better position to truly take advantage of all that big data has to offer.

Qubole is committed to offering enterprise-grade security.

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