How Big Data Can Be Used to Fend Off Cyber Threats

Cyber attacks have become increasingly more commonplace in today's society. In 2015, the health insurance company Anthem, Inc. reported that some 80 million personal records of its customers were stolen by hackers. Even government entities like the White House, Internal Revenue Service (IRS), and Office of Personnel Management (OPM) have reported breaches in recent years.

This isn't a trend that cyber security experts believe to be going away anytime soon, either. According to McAfee's Critical Infrastructure Readiness Report: Holding the Line Against Cyberthreats, 70% of corporate executives surveyed said they believe cyber threats to their respective organizations are “escalating.” But the application of Big Data can be used to fend off cyber threats while protecting the digital assets and infrastructures of organizations, both private and government.

Some people may turn their heads at the thought of using Big Data for cyber security. After all, wouldn't the use of huge pools of data increase the risk for an attack? Not necessarily, as 86% of cyber security professionals say Big Data analytics can help to enhance security, according to a Go Big Security report.

IP Address Monitoring

One of the ways in which Big Data can be used for enhanced cyber security is the monitoring of Internet Protocol (IP) addresses. During a cyber attack, hackers may infiltrate a system using a network of controlled “zombie” computers. Because the attack is performed from many different computers, it's essential for network administrators to find and flag the problematic IP addresses. Big Data, however, can be used to monitor network traffic for suspicious IP addresses, preventing them from accessing the network.


Companies can use Big Data to set up automatic notifications when risks and/or vulnerabilities are identified. Identifying threats early and while they are still young is essential to protecting the network as a whole. When a vulnerability is identified within a network, notifications can be used to inform the administrator so he or she can take corrective action.

Security Information and Event Management

Big Data also supports the use of security information and event management (SIEM) for cyber security purposes. SIEM refers to technologies and services that harvest, curate and analyze data to protect against cyber threats. Certain federal laws like the Health Insurance Portability and Accounting Act (HIPAA) even require healthcare practitioners and other covered entities to keep records of events – a task that Big Data and SIEM is more than capable of handling. If a suspicious event occurs, SIEM will make a note of it.

Detect Emerging Threats

Even if alerts have been set up to notify system administrators of cyber attacks, there's still the issue of identifying new and emerging threats. Using Big Data, administrators can identify potential threats with greater ease, as it provides a plethora of data pertaining to the network.

Of course, these are just a few of the ways that Big Data is paving the way for stronger cyber security.

Thanks for reading and feel free to let us know your thoughts in the comments below regarding the evolution of Big Data in Financial Service.