Federal cyber-security is drowning in data, but big data analytics may be the key to unlocking data and charting a more secure future, according to a report conducted by MeriTalk and sponsored by Cloudera.
The survey found that 81 percent of federal employees say their agency is using big data analytics for cyber-security in some capacity.
However, breaches continue to afflict agencies, with 59 percent of respondents noting their agency deals with a cyber-security compromise at least once a month due to its inability to fully analyze data.
"The survey indicated an enormous increase in usage of big data analytics for cyber-security from 2013 to present day," Rocky DeStefano, subject matter expert at Cloudera, told eWEEK. "This was a big surprise, since a huge change in adoption over a relatively short period of time indicates real-life production success of these programs. This fact is further validated by the participants indicating that 90 percent had seen a reduction in breaches and 84 percent were able to thwart an attack using these cyber-security analytic tools. To me, this shows that these organizations are finding value even at the earliest stages of deployment."
However, 88 percent of respondents face challenges drawing cyber-security intelligence from data, with the top challenge being the sheer volume of cyber-security data—respondents estimate more than 40 percent of their data goes unanalyzed.
"One of the most longstanding obstacles when it comes to cyber-security risks in federal agencies is the siloed nature of information in and across federal agencies," DeStefano said. "These organizations must continue to work to unbind all of their information so that it can be processed, analyzed and prioritized holistically in a meaningful time frame."
The survey indicated that 33 percent of those organizations still don’t have the systems in place to gather the cyber-security information they need, and almost half still think the sheer volume of cyber-security data is overwhelming.
These are two specific problems that are technically very solvable with a big data approach to cyber-security, he noted.
"Finding new ways to analyze untapped data is a natural evolution of security analysis," DeStafano said. "Continued focus and adoption of big data analytic strategies are necessary to gain control of data and ultimately realize the power contained in data that already exists within organizations."
It will be necessary to continue to increase investments in big data cyber-security analysis technology, training and the associated processes that enable security analysis at scale, he said.
"While these solutions are showing value already, they still have significant upside to teams that continue to mature their programs to leverage more and more data using more advanced analysis techniques," DeStefano said.