Attempts by hackers to bring down online systems and compromise valuable data are on the rise. Just last month, one of the largest distributed denial of service (DDoS) attacks ever launched was responsible for making the internet unusable across large parts of the USA, and services at Twitter, Netflix and many other places were forced offline.
These attacks are sometimes carried out to steal data. By breaking the systems through hitting them with brute force traffic, they potentially make them more vulnerable to more targeted attacks. Sometimes they are carried out as a warning shot – a show of strength to let someone know that the attacker is serious and has cyber-firepower at their fingertips.
By all estimates, attacks of this type as well as many other forms of cyber-attack are likely to continue to increase in size and frequency. Fortunately for the law-abiding, as online criminals get smarter, so do efforts made to protect against their unwanted intrusions and attempted theft.
Lately Big Data has been put to use in the ongoing battle to stay one step ahead of the hackers and malicious actors – who could be anyone from disgruntled customers to nation states. Today, advanced analytics and cutting edge technology such as machine learning are put to work on the vast streams of data available through networks such as the internet, and our connected machines.
The aim is to look for unusual patterns among the constant buzz of information that makes up an organization’s digital activities. Some of these technologies were first developed for military applications, and have now been spun out into industry. The most famous example probably being Palantir, which was initially funded by the CIA to provide analytics muscle in the war against terrorism. Today it provides Big Data-driven cybersecurity to big business and is valued at $20 billion. Services such as these are often considered a good investment, as businesses which lose data through breaches can face loss of consumer trust, public disclosure of commercially valuable information, and face large fines.