Big Data Vulnerabilities and How Globe Can Keep Your Data Safe

By Robert San Juan

In the months leading to March 2018, there were already more than 53,000 cybersecurity incidents reported in 65 countries, and 2,216 of which are data breaches according to the 2018 Data Breach Investigations Report of the communications technology firm Verizon.


Will continued news of big data vulnerabilities persist in 2019?

While big data has indeed created innumerable opportunities for small and large businesses alike—from its capacity to process and analyze large volumes of data, to its ability to facilitate seamless remote work and collaboration—its reliance on open-source frameworks and tools leaves it exposed to certain vulnerabilities.


So while big data is, undoubtedly, a driver of productivity, innovation, and a multitude of possibilities in the modern era, it also opens up users to data and privacy risks, along with a whole mess of compliance, regulation, and standardization issues.


Big Data Vulnerabilities

A big data approach to business is a double-edged sword, as its benefits can easily become its own liabilities when not managed properly.


According to Fernando Almeida (2018) in his paper Big Data: Concept, Potentialities, and Vulnerabilities, the three types of vulnerabilities that still plague big data management and processes are (1) security, (2) privacy, and (3) the absence of standards.


Major big data security challenges can easily be rooted in the lack of authentication mechanisms and the lack of secure channels for accessing cloud databases (Almeida, 2018). Due to the sheer scope of big data, users cannot be segmented according to a “need-to-know” basis because that can lead to access control failures when the origins of users are not consistently monitored and tracked.


Inadequate security measures, particularly for distributed systems and transfers, have very minimal protection from hackers. Due to these big data vulnerabilities, companies with critical infrastructure may become prime targets for hackers and other cyber threat actors.

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Personal Data in the Crosshairs

All technology is, by itself, neutral. However, its impact depends on how individuals and companies use it. As such, while big data—being a result of technology—is considered neutral, how companies handle it will ultimately determine whether or not a breach will take place.


That being said, big data increases the risk of security and privacy issues, particularly in the context of social media. Data mined from social networks such as Facebook, LinkedIn, or Twitter hold diverse personal information on users. Ethical lapses in information mining can expose millions of personal data to unscrupulous companies and individuals.


According to a 2018 Cyber Threatscape Report published by the management consulting firm Accenture, “cyber adversaries have slowly shifted their attack patterns to exploiting third- and fourth-party supply chain partner environments to gain entry to target systems.”


For example, seemingly harmless casual games on social media, which can typically access one’s public profile, have been found to mine user data and send them to multiple external servers. Information, which organizations share with suppliers and contractors (like outsourced data managers and knowledge specialists) also remain vulnerable, especially if the concerned parties do not have stringent data sharing and non-disclosure agreement.


Strengthening Big Data Defenses

The public already recognizes the need for more explicit and comprehensive laws that companies, governments, and individuals can adopt into a code of conduct so that, even in the aftermath of security and data breaches, people would still have rights over their own information.


Nonetheless, big data’s inherent vulnerabilities should not keep companies from fully maximizing their business potential. But neither should blindness to the risks rule the day. Big data users must first recognize the vulnerabilities that come with their information and, thus, take a more proactive approach to big data security.


The goal of big data is, ultimately, to identify and harness useful and usable information in a timely manner. Likewise, the greatest defense against its vulnerabilities is creating a data-driven company culture, one that is constantly fueled by data-based decision-making.

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Data-based decision-making usually entails regularly changing or updating organizational work processes and policies surrounding big data. This is necessary since the issues of security, privacy, and standardization need to be addressed at different stages of the big data life cycle—from data generation, data storage to data processing. Given that, there should also be a stringent organization policy when it comes to selecting vendors and third-party contractors.


Data-driven company culture also ensures that security will remain a high priority within the organization. Adopting a continuous response model keeps every business on its toes when it comes to data breaches. It is always safer to assume that a data breach can happen anytime to anyone. With such a mindset, organizations will find it quicker to deploy an incident response and threat teams to pinpoint the next data breach.


Lastly, every business owes it to their customers to maintain a transparent privacy policy. Stay accountable about big data privacy issues and keep customers informed about potential and actual security challenges.


How We Can Keep Your Data Safe

As your trusted business advisor, Globe Business can help you strengthen your organization’s cybersecurity defenses. Through our Advanced Security Operations Center (ASOC), which follows the National Institute of Standards Technology (NIST) framework, we provide round-the-clock support to help you discover and respond to the latent cybersecurity risks to your organization’s systems, assets, data, and capabilities.


From Vulnerability Assessment and Penetration Testing that can pinpoint the current vulnerabilities in your security systems, to Threat Intelligence reports that can help you craft an improved cybersecurity program tailored fit for your organization, we offer enterprises with end-to-end products and services that can help your organization identify, protect, detect, respond, and recover from cybersecurity threats.


We believe that knowing and understanding the current strengths and vulnerabilities of your company’s cybersecurity defenses is the first step towards developing a holistic, long-term security solution that can safeguard your digital journey.


Interested to learn more about our products and solutions? Arrange a consultation with a Globe Business Advisor today.

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Robert San Juan

Head of Business and Solutions Development - Globe Business


Robert has 25 years of extensive experience as a senior information technology (IT) executive in Retail, Distribution, and Manufacturing. Prior to joining Globe, he held leadership positions as First Vice President and Chief Information Officer of SM Supermarket, Assistant Vice President for Corporate IT of United Laboratories Inc., and Vice President for Corporate Information Management of Jollibee Foods Corporation.


SOURCES

Almeida, Fernando. "Big Data: Concept, Potentialities and Vulnerabilities." Emerging Science Journal 2, no. 1 (2018). Accessed January 21, 2019. doi:10.28991/esj-2018-01123.


Press, Gil. "60 Cybersecurity Predictions For 2019." Forbes online. Last modified December 14, 2018. Accessed January 22, 2019. https://www.forbes.com/sites/gilpress/2018/12/03/60-cybersecurity-predictions-for-2019.


Salinas, Sara. "Zuckerberg on Cambridge Analytica: 'We Have a Responsibility to Protect Your Data'." CNBC. Last modified March 21, 2018. Accessed January 20, 2019. https://www.cnbc.com/2018/03/21/zuckerberg-statement-on-cambridge-analytica.html.


"Cyber Threatscape Report 2018." Accenture. Accessed January 19, 2019.  https://www.accenture.com/t20180803T064557Z__w__/us-en/_acnmedia/PDF-83/Accenture-Cyber-Threatscape-Report-2018.pdf


"Data Breach Investigations Report." Verizon Enterprise. Accessed January 19, 2019. https://enterprise.verizon.com/resources/reports/dbir.

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