Along with the Internet of Things, Big Data is the most significant trend that will affect information technology and security in 2016. Big Data is a term that describes the diverse processes of data discovery, collection and analysis from various sources for the purpose of advancing information technology and computing.big-data

Big Data presents a number of advantages and benefits for the enterprise world across many industries; from government to healthcare and from marketing to finance, leveraging Big Data is in the best interest of companies both large and small. As a medium, Big Data mostly resides in the cloud, which makes is easy for business owners to access and benefit from.

Along with the benefits that Big Data bring to the business world, there are also major concerns about privacy and security. The problem is that the technologies and applications that interact with Big Data are advancing at an accelerated rate that is outpacing security.

As of early 2016, the following security concerns are the most significant in relation to Big Data:

1. Inadequate Overall Security

The modern security risks and cyber threats require Big Data platforms and applications to include, at a minimum, the following components:

  • Encryption
  • Access policies
  • Compliance
  • Chain of custody
  • Risk management

Big Data is very attractive to malicious hackers who look for exploits at the client level. If you intend to benefit from Big Data for business purposes, you need to protect your PC from viruses. Unfortunately, the traditional computer security measures such as antivirus programs and firewalls are not sufficient when operating within the Big Data realm. Such mechanisms have been developed to physically protect files and data stored locally; they are not adequate to protect the data streams and the terabytes of Big Data that resides in the cloud.

2. Privacy and Anonymity

Big Data is currently in a state of indiscriminate collection, which means that data brokers are looking to get business data by any possible means. Business entities that wish to leverage Big Data are often not aware that they are contributing information about their operations, their intent, and even their online behavior. Businesses that routinely handle sensitive information need to be aware that simply masking and scrambling data may not be effective against sophisticated hacking crews that can manipulate data to reveal identities and uncover operations.

3. Data Diversity and Volume

The more complex data sets become, the more dangerous they become if they happen to fall into the wrong hands. Computer scientists are rushing to develop new strategies and applications to parse Big Data into relational databases and neural networks, but they are working at a faster pace than those in the security industry. Essentially, Big Data developers are trying to unify unstructured and multi-structured data for the purpose of providing highly logical data sets. Online transactions and behaviors can reveal a lot in terms of business intelligence, but this advancement can become very dangerous if the data sets are not adequately protected.

4. The Dangers of Data Breaches

The biggest trend of 21st century cybercrime is related to Big Data. Spectacular data breaches of business leaders such as JPMorgan, Sony, Home Depot, Bank of America and Target are a reminder that Big Data theft is a clear and present danger that can affect anyone. Here’s a scary statistic from 2014: American companies invest $32 million every year to protect their networks, but this only accounts for less than 10 percent of their total IT expenditures. This means that there is a big disconnect between advancing their information systems and securing them.

5. Lack of Big Data Expertise

As with previous trends related to information technology, the rush to leverage Big Data has created security shortcomings and a lack of experts. In other words, there are not enough Big Data scientists to match the business clamor for this promising trend. The Big Data skills gap is significant, and this is being exacerbated by data providers who offer business owners easy access to cloud platforms and applications. Only the most sophisticated tech giants are hiring Big Data scientists who can identify security risks and provide sensible solutions; this leaves smaller enterprises virtually unprotected.

6. Unscrupulous Data Brokers

Now that Big Data is something that many business owners would like to get into, data brokers are stepping in to profit from this trend, and the way they go about doing this makes many people uncomfortable. The potential risks of unethical data brokerage practices are hardly a new concern; for many years, individuals have been concerned about publicly available information being dumped indiscriminately on the World Wide Web. Business owners should be aware that the Big Data paradigm means that their unprotected information could end up in the hands of data brokers, who could sell it to competitors and even to potential attackers.

In the end, Big Data should not be treated as a passing fad. There are far too many security concerns to treat this trend lightly. In 2016, business owners need to understand that they should enter the world of Big Data with caution and with adequate protection.