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Blog · 20 Sep 2017

Turn and face the change: Part one - make your data work against the bad guys

Ruth Davis explores why Big Data is so good for both security and business.

Head of cyber security strategy

Complexity equals risk

Our customers are operating in a fast-paced, complex world. A world characterised by more data, more dynamism and more directives.

It’s estimated that more data will be created this year than in the previous 5,000 years of human life.

The environment is highly dynamic. Cloud-hosted storage and applications give customers the opportunity to quickly expand or decrease the size of their networks. Widespread use of mobile and IoT devices means that the number of devices connected to a network is continually in flux. And this means that a network’s ‘attack surface’ is continually in flux, too.

To govern this increasingly intricate and changeable world, come more directives. National and international government bodies want to make sure that companies pull their weight in protecting vital services and the data of their customers. The introduction of the EU’s new General Data Protection Regulations and its Network and Information Security Directive are just the latest examples.

Embracing the change

Although daunting, businesses need to seize the opportunity provided by these changes. Why? They all offer opportunities to increase productivity, grow revenue, cut costs and reduce risks.

Those who use these opportunities to their advantage will thrive, those who don’t will do well to survive.

Many businesses are wary about the security risks involved. But the good news is that, as well as giving you a competitive edge, all of these changes can be used to improve your security. The question is: how? Well, this is the first in a series of three blogs looking at how Big Data, dynamic network environments and a forensic approach to compliance can improve your security, at the same time as transforming your business. Let’s start with the data.

What can big data do for you?

Big Data analytics can be applied across enormous data sets to help derive actionable intelligence for customers; intelligence that’s tailored to their operating environments.

The adoption of behavioural analytics, for example, can:

  • profile the behaviour of groups of users across an organisation
  • baseline what ‘normal’ behaviour looks like
  • identify any anomalous patterns of behaviour that could point to an attack.

This helps defend against new attacks that haven’t been seen before and whose ‘signatures’ would therefore not be recognised by traditional security monitoring technology. It is also able to spot bespoke, sophisticated attacks designed to penetrate individual organisations.

Machine learning can be used to automate some security processes. This increases the productivity of Security Operations Centres and speeds up response times. It also saves personnel costs in the security team — at a time when security talent is hard to find.

Big Data analytics therefore enables organisations to identify and remediate new threats faster — even as they unfold — preventing the loss of vital data and minimising operational downtime.

This safeguards the reputation of a business, protecting assets, employees and customers. It also improves understanding of how threats play out in individual business environments, helping to anticipate future threats. Finally, it enables security organisations to run at their best — saving time and cost, and increasing productivity.

IDC recently identified BT as a world leader in helping customers use Big Data analytics to improve security.