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Misunderstanding of Big Data Analytics Causes Cybersecurity Breaches

August 31, 2016

MeriTalk is a public-private partnership dedicated to improving the outcomes of government IT. The company announced the result of its new report, “Navigating the Cybersecurity Equation,” today, which revealed that 81 percent of Feds say their agency is using big data analytics for cybersecurity in some capacity. However, in many cases, these analytics aren’t being used effectively.

Fifty-three percent are using big data analytics as a part of their overall cybersecurity strategy and 28 percent are using it in a limited capacity. Despite these precautions, breaches still occur regularly, according to the  59 percent of Feds reporting their agency deals with a cybersecurity compromise at least once a month due to their inability to fully analyze data.

The number of Feds who use big data analytics for cybersecurity purposes, but clearly can’t properly read those analytics, is overwhelming. The report reinforces this by pointing out that 88 percent of Federal agencies face challenges drawing cybersecurity intelligence from data. Even worse, the majority of Feds say the task has become more difficult in the past two years. A whopping 45 percent say they don’t think their efforts will be highly effective, which isn’t very encouraging.

So which challenges have become worse over the past two years? Feds stated their top challenges are the sheer volume of cybersecurity data; agencies don’t have the right systems in place to gather the cybersecurity information they need; and the fact that information is no longer timely when it makes it to cybersecurity managers.

As a result of these difficulties, more than 40 percent of data goes unanalyzed. Add onto this misunderstanding the fact that Feds lack skilled personnel, have potential privacy concerns, and lack management/awareness, and it’s no wonder that breaches are still happening at an alarming rate.

“Internal and external cybersecurity threats will continue to evolve daily and we need to unlock the power of the data in order to regain the advantage,” said Rocky DeStefano, Cybersecurity Subject Matter Expert, Cloudera. “Agencies need complete visibility into the data across their enterprise. These teams also need the ability to flexibly analyze that data in a meaningful timeframe so they can detect advanced threats quickly, identify the impact and reduce the associated risk. Accelerating investment in the platforms necessary to collect and analyze this data is critical to the success of these programs.”

Federal agencies that effectively use big data analytics obviously experience improvements when it comes to cybersecurity. In fact, 90 percent of those who use the data correctly have seen a decline in security breaches – malware (50 percent), insider threats (47 percent) and social engineering (46 percent).  The problem is the alarming number of agencies who do not know how to properly use these analytics, and therefore leave their systems open to potential threats and problems. Hopefully MeriTalk’s report will raise some awareness, so that agencies can put procedures into place to make sure big data is correctly analyzed.

Edited by Maurice Nagle

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