Big Data is a fairly simple term to describe complex data sets so large that conventional databases are unable to process them. They can be utilized by businesses to improve customer care in many, previously unavailable, ways, but they also raise a number of new privacy and security challenges.
For large businesses, the concept and use of big data is not a new idea by any means, but due to the reduced costs associated, medium and even small businesses are also beginning to utilize these data sets.
The rules surrounding data governance across organizations have historically tended to be designed with the old, relational database focused thinking. This creates a divergence between practice and reality, and a need for businesses to rapidly adapt to the new paradigm.
Implications for Privacy
One particular problem is that of privacy, something that is an almost constant concern in an ever changing technological landscape. Rather than seeing a specific data set as an individual component they need start looking at the data as part of a wider picture. Seen in this context, there is a possibility that data released by an organization could provide the missing part of a puzzle that creates a violation of privacy.
One area of current research is dealing with methods to allow large-scale analysis of data while confidently retaining privacy, as this is a problem likely to become more of a prominent issue as technology develops. One of the common ways in which businesses try to keep data private is to create types of demilitarized zones, whereby private data is kept inside a secure zone, and unwanted people are kept outside the secure zone. It is dangerous to assume that the zone boundaries are always secure, and that unwanted users are always on the outside. In many situations, both of these assumptions have been found to be untrue, raising a need for other methods of containment.
As more organisations of all sizes start to embrace the use of large data sets, they also need to become aware of the security challenges of big data, and find new ways of combating these risks.