Are Big Data Mobile Apps a Huge Risk? That Depends on Where They’re Stored.


By David Abbou - Jan-22-2015

Big Data and the value it can produce has taken it from emerging technology to an established frontier for most large enterprises. In fact, organizations who don’t invest in Big Data will be a stark minority, and most are treating it as a priority.The ability to extract valuable insights to inform business decision-making, design more efficient processes, personalize sales and marketing strategies, and produce more customer-centric products and services is critical for organizations to keep up with and predict evolving consumer demands and gain a competitive edge. But getting the full benefits out of Big Data in the mobile era also means organizations need to marry this technology with another trend that has fast become a workplace reality, BYOD. Executives and industry professionals need and demand access to customized real-time reports that give them the insight necessary to make informed business decisions.

Just how organizations integrate Big Data with mobile apps is literally and figuratively one of the biggest trends to watch for in the coming year. So then why are many corporations dipping their toes in the water rather than diving in? As goes the expression “the bigger they are, the harder they fall”, the risks and potential consequences of failing to effectively secure Big Data on mobile devices can be devastating to an organization’s reputation and carry massive legal repercussions to boot.

The concept of Big Data mobile apps is not that new, but the sheer enormity of risk makes it one of today’s most significant IT challenges. Taking Big Data mobile poses heavyweight risks for different industries. In healthcare, personally identifiable information can be obtained from lost/stolen or hacked devices, violating patient privacy. Privacy issues also extend in different ways to financial institutions and much of the private sector. For defense agencies, the stakes really could not be higher, with cybersecurity criminals and state-sponsored hackers attempting to breach classified national defense information daily.

Custom reports, dashboards and other reporting tools leave a digital footprint on the device. These reports contain robust data that is also rich in memory. With more sensitive information moving between endpoints and networks, the opportunities for hackers to break through security increase as a result. More disturbingly, authentication credentials can be hacked and used to gain access to your company’s network resources.

Simply put, organizations can’t afford leaking this level of information. The damages resulting from a major breach could very well match or exceed the benefits. Therefore many businesses which are working on integrating Big Data with mobile are too gunshy to move forward until they find a strategy that allows them to address these issues with a much greater degree of confidence.

But time is also money, and the challenge of securing Big Data mobile apps can’t scare organisations off from using it. Instead, it can act as a motivator to look at mobile security in a more innovative way. It’s becoming clear that the endpoint security approaches to date have not been sufficient enough to inspire confidence that the data is secure and out of harm’s way. A common element all of these solutions share is where the data is stored.

Location, location, location!

Imagine that a major bank kept all of it’s currencies on-site, and protected all this cash with a heavy police presence and surveillance all around it. Would that be a foolproof method to prevent ambitious criminals from trying to pull off a major heist? Maybe for most criminals, but the motivation to rob such a bank would be extremely high. There’s no guarantee that the bank could not be robbed, and the resources needed to provide the requisite amount of security would be exorbitant.That’s why the money isn’t kept on site, but at a remote location that is much more secure.

Now imagine an organization’s valuable Business Intelligence tools and the value this holds in the eyes of the cyber criminal. Do you endlessly devote one security patch after another in the hopes that hackers won’t find a way to break encryption on mobile devices, which are known to be the weakest link in security?

The most valuable data should be kept where it’s safest. This is why storing data on a secured remote server will be the way to protect Big Data going forward. For Big Data tools such as dashboards, visualizations and query tools accessed online, Virtual Mobile Infrastructure (VMI) provides an ideal solution, in that all of the data can be kept on the server while being displayed onto smartphones and tablets as a flat image that cannot be manipulated.

This approach can also provide organizations with the platform for important security solutions that will aid efficient access to Big Data, such as single sign-on processes, allowing professionals to access the information they need within several apps without being delayed by multiple authentication requirements.

As we enter the age where the quality and quantity data, and the stakes keep rising from a security perspective, expect more enterprises to move their prized assets away from the danger zone and to a centralized, secured environment.