EMC conducted a survey of U.S. Federal Government IT Security stakeholders recently, and one of the results that struck me was one around cloud adoption. We usually hear about security being an impediment to the wide-scale adoption of cloud and virtualization technologies, but our survey revealed another interesting barrier.

King Cloud, by akakumo

Big data.

I recently heard a colleague describe the security industry as being in a similar situation that the retail sector was many years ago. All of the sudden, marketers in retail demanded data. They needed to know everything they possibly could about their customers, and relentlessly bought, traded, and sold data to fill in their customer profile gaps. This larger set of data was then sliced hundreds of different ways to give business owners tremendous intelligence on what makes their customers tick. Stores were re-arranged, loyalty programs boomed, and we as consumers fed the frenzy by allowing better and more accurate data collection. It’s big data.

Now look at information security. We’re also at this exact same turning point. We used to tune out the noise, make logs virtually worthless with poorly configured collection and analysis devices, and simply shrug at the amount of data that devices COULD produce, opting to rein them in tremendously instead of risking a logging-related systems outage.

But now, we want to know everything we possibly can about every packet that traverses our networks. We need to be able to profile customer behavior on our website, analyze partner activity, and most importantly we need the ability to unveil the bad guy masquerading as a legitimate user. If you are a nay-sayer, consider that your enemy is doing the very same to you. Big data is just as much of a reality for security teams as it is for the attackers.

Our survey found that the number 1 concern with network monitoring was how to analyze the collected data. Depending on how you architect your cloud solution, logging could become very interesting with the volume, sources, and kinds of data that you would receive for analysis. We need to think about how we will act on the data collected and the analysis performed.

Finally, one other interesting nugget, viruses and worms top the list of the most worried about attack vector. I found that interesting, and upside down in some regards. Advanced threats were down at item number seven, with only 53% of the respondents mentioning it as a concern. It could be that the term APT was used, and it has kind of lost its meaning recently. Zero-day targeted malware was number three at 60% which fits more in line with what a high concern should be.

For more information on EMC’s offerings for the public sector, click here.

This post originally appeared on BrandenWilliams.com.

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