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Big data, security threats and IT transformation

Jack Loo | Aug. 16, 2012
Representatives from Wipro, Palo Alto Networks and Cognizant Technology Solutions share their expertise at the CIO Summit.

A single engine from a passenger airline can generate more than 10 TB of data every 30 minutes. In the past, this data was deleted at the end of each flight.

"How would you feel if you knew that your airline was instead using this data to proactively monitor the health of its engines and replacing them before failure?" asked KR Sanjiv, senior vice president and global head, analytics and information management, Wipro.

Sanjiv was speaking at the CIO Summit 2012 on 2 August in Singapore. The event was organised by IDC Asia Pacific and Fairfax Business Media.

"Data is growing in volumes, variety and velocity. Ten years back, 1TB was considered to be a huge threshold to cross. Now, there are data warehouses that house hundreds of TB worth of data," said Sanjiv.

In a case study of a customer from the media industry, Wipro implemented statistical models for processing device and log data to identify patterns and build recommendation engines. The client then saw a lift of over 16 percent in revenues on pay-per-view platform through optimal ad placements and reduction in customer churn from 1.7 percent to 0.2 percent.

Given the power of data and analytics and its impact in transforming business, data should be treated as a corporate asset on par with other assets in an organisation, added Sanjiv.

However, one major key to the success of a big data project is to identify the business case that can provide quantum business value to the organisation that adopts it, said Sanjiv.

More benefits, more threats

Just as technology becomes faster and better, it also brings about more threats, according to Kelly Brazil, director, systems engineering APAC, Palo Alto Networks.

Internet-based communication tools offer convenience, but it means that malware can be easily spread to unsuspecting users. While cloud computing models are distributed, resilient and cheap, vital networks can be easily be taken over by botnets, said Brazil.

One of the reasons that applications are vulnerable is that "they break traditional security models," he said. In general, some 40 percent of applications are evasive, that they will use a non-standard port if the default is blocked.

And a solution is to have visibility on all port traffic, offered Brazil. This means being able to identify all traffic at the application level regardless of the port used, and tracking unknown or abnormal traffic that does not conform to established protocols.

The classification methods are applied in the access, or firewall, phase and on all traffic. Full stack analysis becomes a normal practice, not an exceptional case. "Make access and threat decisions based on what the traffic really is," he said.


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