03/20/2013 06:48 am ET Updated Dec 06, 2017

Keeping You Safe: Using Big Data to Secure Big Data

Data is piling up all around us. Inside social networks, digital clouds, mobile networks, and the digital warehouses of the companies we work for, the stores, banks, and health care companies we use.

The ability to access this data from anywhere in the world and finding meaningful ways to combine it with other sources of data is at the core of the vision for a smarter, more connected and intelligent planet.

Yet, the flipside is that these new sources of data and information are perfect targets for fraud and crime. Our sensitive personal data, such as credit card numbers, names and addresses and preferences, health and insurance records, and banking and investment information could be targets for online theft.

In addition, as more employees inside organizations gain access to our data as part of their jobs, the potential for abuse and fraud increases.

We can't and won't go backwards because the opportunities created by moving this data out of old silos and into the digital world is too great. As an example, digitizing medical records and information and then running analytics across that data has the very real opportunity to affect health outcomes around the world.

In order to go forward, and to enable organizations to take advantage of the promise of a more instrumented and connected world, security professionals need to look to new strategies and capabilities to detect and defend against a new class of threats. If an attacker isn't going to give up after the first, second or 100th attempt to get in because they specifically want your organization's data, security strategies need to evolve from merely hoping to block each attack, to beginning to understand the attacker.

Organizations can't just rely on the traditional tools of the past to make sure the data they're collecting and exposing to the Internet is protected. Smart cyber criminals can skirt around these older defensive technologies and blend into the background noise of an organization's operations. They're skilled and patient enough to do reconnaissance of an organization's network over months or years, waiting for just the right chance to steal sensitive information.

While many people might think of the big data explosion as something that is exclusively a challenge for security professionals, it is also an opportunity as well. In addition to data we need to protect, organizations are also ingesting and analyzing a different set of data, security data. This data contains information about threats on the Internet, network activity, system configuration data, vulnerability data, users' data and where they are going, and even data about who is accessing critical data and what they are doing with it.

Today, companies are bringing together, monitoring, and analyzing this massive amount of information from inside and outside of their walls to better understand the security threats that they face.

Forward-looking organizations are also bringing together and examining new sources of information, such as customer transactions, email, and network data, and looking through years of old data to uncover anomalies and attack patterns. They're discovering and investigating high-risk behavior across a wide variety of communications channels and networks so they're prepared before an attack happens.

Using that approach, a financial company can sift through real-time and historical account activity to spot abnormal user behavior and suspicious transactions. A global telco can collect and monitor data on one million events per second -- or more than 85 billion events per day -- to make sure its operations are secure.

Like other past transformative innovations, big data is creating new opportunities along with security challenges. But for pioneering companies, the tools that make big data so transformative will also be the ones that allow them to track the risks they face more closely and smartly than ever.

For more information about big data security, click here.