How big data can improve network security

Big data and analytics are used in retail, finance, healthcare and many other industries to better understand customers, develop highly targeted products and services, and improve business processes.

The ability of enterprises to leverage big data soon could enable a transition away from the classic perimeter-centric approach to protecting networks that too often fails to prevent serious breaches.

The “zero-trust” model (ZTM) of security could be the logical successor to perimeter defenses. Developed by Forrester Research, ZTM essentially is a lock-down approach to security that requires all data to be monitored — not just data entering and exiting the network, but also data moving within the network. ZTM requires secure access to all network resources and full traffic logging and review. In other words, “zero trust” is quite literal.

As Computerworld contributor Ahmed Banafa points out, ZTM will “generate enormous volumes of real-time data.”

“Adding big data analytics to the mix will give IT managers a comprehensive view of their security landscape, exposing what is at risk, how severe the risks are, how important the asset at risk is and how to fix the security weakness,” Banafa writes.

Real-time data won’t help secure your network if you can’t analyze it in real time. After all, learning about a breach after the fact isn’t quite as good as thwarting the breach while it’s being attempted.

Even better than being able to repel an attempted breach as it’s happening is the ability to anticipate cyberattacks. Predictive analytics will enable security pros to see into the future, and prescriptive analytics will help them fix potential vulnerabilities.

The challenge for IT pros who want to implement ZTM is that this hardcore security approach runs counter to the less rigid security posture recommended in the era of consumerization. Developers and IT managers have been told for several years now that excessive security and access controls can hurt employee productivity and might prompt some workers to begin deploying rogue mobile devices and apps on the job.

However pervasive ZTM becomes, you can expect big data and analytics to increasingly be used to improve enterprise security.

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