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10 Tips to Secure Big Data

10 Tips to Secure Big Data
Keep Your Big Data Safe

In this information age in which we live, businesses have more opportunities than ever before to collect and store big data. Information matters, from the most significant players around like Google and Facebook to any smaller business that stores resources in the cloud. Between the sales, marketing and fulfilment departments, not to mention IT too, there is so much data on hand that protecting it can end up lower on the list than it should be.

This selection of 10 tips has been created with those responsible for that data in mind. Obviously, if you use the data but have no control over where it is stored or who it is shared with, the chances are that you won’t have any input on keeping it secure. However, if you do, then the following tips will point you in the right direction to ensure that you do so successfully.

Having lots of information on hand is great, but it is in the use of that information where it really demonstrates its true value. Often, this means sharing that data outside of your own business, with clients, suppliers and anyone else that needs to make use of it. Once that information gets outside your office network, it becomes susceptible to leakage, and it is at this point that you need to focus on keeping it secure. Authentication tools and the removal of any personally identifiable information can all assist in keeping your big data out of the wrong hands.

Non-relational data is often essential to make the whole data package and associated software work, but it is also among the easiest parts of your information storage to tamper with. Ensure that all passwords are encrypted, and take care to encrypt the data itself whenever it travels from one point to another. You should also consider the deployment of a tool that will track all usage of this data closely, so any modifications or deletions can be traced back to a specific individual.

There is no point in securing the data and the software that processes it if you leave yourself open to physical tampering. Ideally, the servers that store your data will be kept on-site and you can take whatever steps are required to keep the information out of the wrong hands. If this is not possible, your chosen data storage provider should take sufficient security measures of their own, covering not just any unauthorised access, but responses to fires and other accidents.

The chances are that your data will be accessed from outside the office, especially on mobile devices. Such devices are typically more difficult and costly to fully secure, but failing to do so leaves a massive gap in your overall system and one that needs to be filled in as quickly as possible. Mobile Device Management Tools will enable you and your IT teams to put the necessary controls in place to ensure only authorised users can view and transmit crucial information.

There is more to the management of big data than simply storing and viewing it. You also need to be aware of any threats as soon as they become apparent. It is the right decision to pre-emptively tackle any threats with virus protection and firewalls, but automated services are no match for a true, current overview of what the data is doing. You can use the software, human eyes or a combination of both to ensure your data stays where it needs to be.

Your data will inevitably include personally identifiable information at some point in the chain, and you have a legal obligation to keep that data safe. In an ideal scenario, your data will be as useful as possible while stripping out as much information as you can should a breach occur. Even with every possible precaution in place, you never know when something bad might happen and, if nothing else, it is a good idea to minimise the impact of any problems.

Data security is not just the responsibility of one employee or an IT team. Anyone that has access to even small parts of your big data should be made aware of their role and responsibilities in its protection. That means treating it as private company property and taking all possible steps to avoid it being shared with external individuals or lost.

Further to the above tip, it is always a good idea to include access controls in any big data management system. In larger companies, in particular, the chances are that not every employee requires full access to every possible part of the data. This is an opportunity to lock certain databases and other pieces of software down as if an individual cannot access something; there is no chance of them being able to share or lose it.

Be as secure as you can be, but ensure that yourself or someone in a suitably superior role regularly checks the integrity of data. Even with real-time monitoring, there could be a bigger, non-centralised issue taking place somewhere in your storage that only becomes apparent when checked against a wider range of possible issues. Naturally, the information contained within an audit will be sensitive in its own right, and so it is important to treat this with the utmost security too.

The more layers of protection you have around your big data, the less likely it is for any unauthorised access attempts to come to fruition. If you find yourself asking whether something related to your data storage needs to be secured, the chances are that the answer will always be ‘yes’. This goes for logs, reports and metadata on top of the data itself too.

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