Growing up, we’ve been told to never give out your social security number, and to keep important details like banking information or your driver’s license number private. We’re told this because there’s always a risk of identity theft and other unfortunate scenarios. This may have been an easy task to do 15 or 20 years ago, but today? It’s not so easy. Today, technology is everywhere and all online activity is captured and in one of the many huge data centers for future use.
Nowadays, criminals aren’t thugs toting around knives and guns ready to use them to get what they want. Instead, they can stay hidden in some dark basement in front of the computer screen, just hacking away at the keyboard, trying to gain valuable information, be it in the form of social security numbers, banking information, top secret government secrets, salacious nude photographs that can be used for blackmail and so much more.
The Risk of Being Hacked
Who is at risk of being hacked? Everyone and anyone – even if you don’t have a bank account or credit card, hackers can bust into government agencies, hospitals, phone records and police records. It isn’t just people who are at risk either. Large corporations are always on the offensive against cyber-attacks for a multitude of reasons including:
- Gaining access to high profile clientele information
- Gaining access to trade secrets
- Gaining access to financial information
One of most recent (and the most alarming) hacks happened with Equifax in September 2017 where the confidential information of millions of customers were exposed. Last month, Equifax handed over confidential documents to the Senate Banking Committee indicating that not only were people’s names, date of birth, and addresses access as a result of a data breach, but the tax IDs and the driver’s license details (such as date of issuance and state) of over 145.5 million customers may have also been compromised.
In recent years, hospitals have seen an increase of data breaches. It’s so common that 89% of healthcare organizations have experienced at least one data breach that has involved the loss or theft of a patient’s data within just two years. Some of the data that is often targeted by these hackers include patient medical records, billing information, clinical trials and research. Hackers even want information regarding the employees.
So, what are these companies doing to reduce the risk of data breaches? They‘re turning to big data and analytics to protect themselves, their customers, and the public.
Using Big Data to Reduce Risk of Data Breaches
As technology continues to grow and change, as will the hackers. They’ll adapt and manipulate their way into these systems.
However, cyber security is getting a large boost in effectiveness over recent years, largely in part to big data and analytics. More and more companies are using heavy analytics to detect threats that could compromise important information. An article on ITWire revealed that organizations who use analytics to spot any negative changes are 2.25 times more likely to identify a security threat within hours or even minutes.
With that said, analytics and big data can’t keep up with all the new threats to cyber security that are coming to light on a daily basis. 81% of federal agencies have said they’ve been using big data analytics in some way to increase their cyber security. Even with the help of these analytics, government agencies still experience breaches.
Why does this happen? Because there’s an overwhelming amount of data available pertaining just to cyber security. If these government agencies don’t have the best systems in place to organize and gather the information needed, then what luck do businesses have? Or, more to the point, what luck do we, the people, have? Even if a business does have SQL-based infrastructure in place to analyze the majority of data, it’s still going to be very costly to maintain.
Never Fear – Big Data to the Rescue
We may have painted a bleak picture and given you the impression that analyzing big data wasn’t very effective at keeping important information safe, but it isn’t nearly as grim as it may seem. Companies are taking steps in the right direction and analyzing the data they can gather to fight against the cyber threats.
In order for big data analysis to work, it needs to be used in its raw format. Experts suggest that by looking at the historical data that’s been gathered, you can create “statistical baselines” to identify normal behavior. Then, the system will be able to pick up on strange anomalies that needs attention. This can all be done in real-time, or it could be viewed at a later date.
The cyber security company, Sophos has been creating antivirus and encryption software for almost 30 years. The company is now helping to secure the networks used by hundreds of millions of people in 150 countries, as well as 100,000 businesses, by using big data analytics for malware research and analysis, analyzing macro trends, and measure detection performance.
We want to believe that the companies, hospitals, government agencies, and credit unions that we do business with will be able to keep our personal information safe because we put a lot of trust in these organizations. The stark reality is, nothing is ever guaranteed and we have to rely on these organizations to know what they are doing and handle our information with care.
Fortunately, businesses are taking steps to safeguard themselves against data breaches by using big data analytics to detect abnormal activity within their systems. We can only hope that as technology continues to develop, there will be more security measures put into place.