Security Experts:

Survey Looks to Find What IT Security Wants From Big Data

In an effort to gauge how IT Security professionals are thinking about “Big Data”, Varonis Systems surveyed attendees at the recent Infosecurity Europe 2012 conference on the topic.

According to the company, over 180 attendees at the London conference responded, answering questions about whether they thought the definition of big data itself was clear, whether it is or will be a priority for their organizations, and how they could see their organization taking advantage of it.

The results revealed that more than two-thirds of IT professionals think Big Data should be a strategic priority, with more than half expecting Big Data to be a strategic initiative over the next five years.

Not surprising, less than half of the respondents felt there was a clear definition of Big Data, with even less admitting they had adequate knowledge of Big Data products.

“The results indicate that while the majority of organizations in this study will engage in Big Data strategic initiatives over the next 5 years, a broad understanding of Big Data remains elusive,” the company says. More than 80% of respondents rated their knowledge of Big Data products as low, but did say how they'd like to use Big Data. According to Varonis, two things are clear: IT needs more specific information about the practical applications of Big Data, and when they get this information the majority will be supportive of corresponding projects.

While many may not be clear on the definition or benefits of “Big Data”, it is clear that companies are starting to take advantage of it. Survey results showed that 36% of respondents said their organization is currently implementing big data projects. Not surprising, Big data projects appear to be more prominent by percentage in very large organizations.

How can Big Data be used in the security function?

When asked, “How would you like to use big data to protect and manage unstructured and semi-structured data?”, many IT security professionals were able to identify several different use cases. The most popular responses included using Big Data to find sensitive data at risk, identify possible malicious activity and find users with excessive access rights.

According to Varonis, big data is certainly more than the latest buzzword and marketing hype. “IT security personnel have a unique perspective,” the report notes. “They are charged with managing and protecting an organization’s digital infrastructure and so require an understanding of a wide variety of technologies and an awareness of those that are being implemented in their organizations.”

"IT is looking for practical Big Data solutions for data management and protection," said David Gibson, vice president of strategy at Varonis. "With the explosion of data and the demand for rapid, ubiquitous digital collaboration, IT knows traditional data management methods can no longer keep pace, so they are looking for advanced solutions to protect their data. The key for IT with Big Data is to get past all the hype and to learn more about the practical benefits, like finding exposed sensitive data, flagging malicious activity and identifying excessive access." 

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For more than 10 years, Mike Lennon has been closely monitoring the threat landscape and analyzing trends in the National Security and enterprise cybersecurity space. In his role at SecurityWeek, he oversees the editorial direction of the publication and is the Director of several leading security industry conferences around the world.