Big Data: Realising opportunities and assessing risk
There has never been a more important time to think about your company data and how secure it is.
IT is the lifeblood of the majority of businesses that exist today and as such data security is vital to ensure they can continue to operate with no downtime and maintain an efficient service to customers.
The GCHQ and US National Security Agency (NSA) covert data gathering has put data security centre stage. It’s important to consider how valuable your data may be to those wishing to access it and what is being done to prevent security breaches.
You may have heard the term ‘big data’ which is used to describe a large set of connected and related data. Big data allows companies to pull together related information and generate a snapshot of a customer in an instant. For example, information relating to phone calls, personal details, order history and invoicing can be connected, which has significant advantages in terms of delivering quality customer service and increasing productivity. However, with this comes a security challenge as data that would have been previously meaningless when viewed alone, becomes connected to a whole wealth of information that can lead to confidential details being exposed.
The need to move information throughout an organisation has the potential to leave companies more exposed to hackers and other cyber criminals. The more times a piece of data is sent and received, the more opportunities there are for it to be intercepted. A secure means of storing data and running applications is therefore essential.
Encryption is commonly used in protecting information within many companies, including data that is both ‘at rest’ and ‘in transit’. For example, this may include data being transferred via networks or stored on a hard drive. Some different examples of this are Virtual Private Networks (VPN), Full Disk Encryption (FDE) and Transport Layer Security (TLS), which is commonly used for email encryption during transmission. Worryingly, in a recent survey conducted by Onyx Group among IT managers in SMEs, fewer than half (43 per cent) of respondents said that they encrypt their data backups, indicating that organisations are not always giving thorough consideration to the security aspects of data backup.
The more integrated and complex data becomes, the more mission critical it is to a business. We predict that big data is going to drive the adoption of the data centre, where a large volume of data can be safely and securely stored. One of the key advantages of data centres is their ability to ensure business continuity and minimise downtime. The need to safeguard data plays a huge part in the growing adoption of business continuity planning. This has increased sharply over the past two years, with 61 per cent of managers reporting that they have a plan in place.
Data centre and workplace recovery facilities ensure business continuity in a number of ways, providing a workspace for businesses in the event that their workplace is inaccessible, as well as protecting business data from loss, theft or damage.
Providers with a number of data centres can also replicate the same information across more than one of their sites, meaning added resilience for the data and added peace of mind for the organisation. Data centres can also be equipped with monitoring services which automatically scan, identify and fix, where possible, any server irregularities before they become an issue.
Big data provides companies with a great opportunity to improve their processes, productivity and customer service. As always there are inherent security vulnerabilities, which reinforce the importance of IT security and the requirement for a robust means of managing data.
This was posted in Bdaily's Members' News section by Onyx Group .