Big data refers to huge data sets that come about through the phenomenal growth being seen in the volume of information collected, produced, analysed, shared and stored by organisations. By analysing big data sets, valuable insights can be gained into how patterns of data are associated to enable better-informed decision-making, which can aid in competitiveness and drive innovation. According to Gartner, 48% of organisations had invested in big data capabilities in 2016.
Big data sets harness information from multiple sources such as databases, data warehouses, log and event files, security controls such as intrusion prevention systems and user-generated data from sources such as emails and social media posts. The information collected can be in either structured form, such as in the columns of a database, or unstructured, such as information contained in a word-processing document. Increasingly, data feeds are from devices – and transactions from devices – that make up the Internet of Things (IoT) and this looks set to increase dramatically. As well as this, an increasing number of organisations are looking to incorporate data feeds from physical security systems, such as building access control and smart building management systems.
Swathes of Information
All of this information is fed into a centralised big data management system so that the data can be correlated for analysis. Much of that data will be highly sensitive, including information related to customers, employees and suppliers, financial data, intellectual property and a vast array of other information. Some of the information will come from within the network: other sources may be remote, such as in cloud applications, data held on mobile devices and that originating from IoT.
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