Big data provides an effective way to combat new cyber threats

A decade ago, the task of safeguarding networks was a lot simpler for IT departments.

It was by no means easy, but there were far fewer avenues by which hackers could penetrate the system. And if they were unable to infiltrate the network, insider fraud was the only remaining prevalent threat. 

Nowadays, cyberattacks are coming from a variety of different angles, especially as cloud and bring-your-own-device environments continue to rise in popularity. 

"The big theme we are starting to see carried out is that it's when you are going to be attacked, not if," Steven Ursillo Jr., principal and director of technology and assurance services for Sparrow, Johnson & Ursillo, recently told the Journal of Accountancy.

Safeguarding data should be priority
One example of the changing threats companies are facing is that, instead of trying to breach the firewall, cybercriminals are going after vendors instead, Network World reported. For instance, a recent study by the Anti-Phishing Working Group found that nearly half of all phishing attacks during the second half of 2012 targeted third-party service providers.

These new technological environments have spurred a revival among hackers, which in turn has brought about different security concerns. A recent survey by the AICPA and CPA Canada revealed that "managing and retaining data" surged to the No.1 spot for technology-related priorities among accounting professionals. 

"In its most simplistic sense, security threats exist because data exists, is accessible, and has value," Dan Schroeder, a partner at consulting firm Habif, Arogeti & Wynne, told Journal of Accountancy.

Big data's potential role
Big data has received plenty of hype in recent months, primarily for its ability to gain unprecedented insight into matters relating to consumers, IT and financial decisions. But one area that's gone somewhat overlooked is its potential to improve the security of today's increasingly complex technological environments.

"The challenge is to identify where data resides and moves during the data cycle," Ursillo Jr. told Journal of Accountancy. "It's very challenging to govern all of that."

In a recent blog post for Insurance & Technology, James Ruotolo, principal for insurance fraud solutions at SAS, advocated that companies turn to data analytics for its fraud detection capabilities.

With information "being created and updated with increasing frequency," administrators need a technology that can identify precisely where breaches have occurred. Big data analytics has the ability to do this at a moment's notice.

Breaches are almost inevitable these days, so identifying incidents in a timely manner presents the best way to mitigate the damage. 

Submit to our blog