Big data analytics can provide significant insights into the network to detect threats, but it needs to be balanced with privacy concerns, speakers at the RSA conference said.
FRANCISCOBig data is popping up in many discussions at this year's RSA
Conference here: both as a way to solve some of the most pressing security
problems as well as a reason why individual privacy is at risk.
proliferation of devices and services means more and more information is being
collected and made available for analysis, Scott Charney, corporate vice
president in Microsoft's Trustworthy Computing group, said in his keynote
speech Feb. 28. The massive volumes of unstructured data, often called big data,
offer businesses enormous potential to improve business operations and develop
new products, according to Charney.
big data analytics can improve health care or let banks better assess the
likelihood of a loan prospect defaulting, it can also be tremendously helpful
in beefing up security defenses, Charney said. Big data tools can be used to
analyze all the information being collected, such as what users are doing, what
resources systems are accessing, and what kind of traffic is coming in and out
of the network.
problem is we have too much security data, and we don't know what to make of it
all," Charney said.
Security Chairman Arthur Coviello also touted the benefits of big data during
his opening keynote. Analyzing all event information collected across the
network from all kinds of systems, not just traditional security platforms,
would give organizations "predictive and pre-emptive intelligence"
that could be used to determine where adversaries are likely to attack next, he
said. Big data lets organizations move away from the patchwork of "siloed"
security products that tend to make up traditional security deployments to
focus instead on "multisource intelligence" systems that can see the
bigger picture, according to Coviello.
Big data may also provide new insights into the reliability and security of our
IT ecosystem, the way it is used will raise important privacy questions,
Microsoft's Charney warned. Users are increasingly becoming concerned about how
much data is being collected, with whom it is being shared and how it is used.
data collected by mobile devices is the perfect example, according to Charney.
Organizations can look at geo-location data to analyze customer behavior,
market to them more effectively and understand customer preferences. But users
are increasingly becoming concerned about ubiquitous tracking.
though under the Federal Trade Commission guidelines companies are required to
notify users about what data is being collected, ironically, people tend to
ignore those notices because it's too much information. Recent cyber-legislation
is supposed to make the disclosure process simpler, but there are no actual
details yet on how companies will inform users.
a panel discussion on big data and how it can be used for security, Rich Mogull
of Securosis warned against falling into the trap of thinking of big data as a
cure-all for all security problems. The technology is still in its early stages
and, for many organizations, it is still too soon to be thinking about doing big
data analytics on their own. Instead, they should work with providers who have
the resources to analyze the data and provide insights, Mogull said.
can start exploring the technology and approach it as a "science
experiment," Mogull suggested.