Big Data Analytics Security and Best Practices

Big Data Analytics is today a great asset for many organizations, promising improved operations and new business opportunities. However, Big Data Analytics has increased access to sensitive information that, when processed, can directly jeopardize the privacy of individuals and violate data protection laws. What are the best practices for a secure Data Analytics infrastructure?

Blog Series about Security in Public Clouds

This blog is part of a blog series about security in public clouds. if you are interested in the topic more deeply have a look at the introductory blog where all related articles are listed and linked.

What is Big data?

Big Data Analytics is one of the biggest technology trends today. In the past these technologies where reserved for big companies or institutions and now, with the global cloud adoption, also small companies can start their own Big Data Journey.

Wikipedia defines Big data “as a field that treats ways to analyze, systematically extract information from, or otherwise deal with data sets that are too large or complex to be dealt with by traditional data-processing application software”.

Big Data is almost always described as having at least three distinct dimensions: Volume, Velocity, and Variety. Some then go on to add 2 more “V”s to the list, to also include Variability and Value.


5 V’s of Big Data

Security and privacy issues are magnified by the 3 or 5 V’s of big data. These factors include variables such as large-scale cloud infrastructures, diversity of data sources and formats, streaming nature of data acquisition and the increasingly high volume of inter-cloud migrations. Consequently, traditional security mechanisms, which are tailored to securing small-scale static (as opposed to streaming) data, often fall short.

The Cloud Security Alliance (CSA)



The Cloud Security Alliance (CSA) is the world’s leading organization dedicated to defining and raising awareness of best practices to help ensure a secure cloud computing environment. CSA harnesses the subject matter expertise of industry practitioners, associations, governments, and its corporate and individual members to offer cloud security-specific research, education, certification, events and products. CSA’s activities, knowledge and extensive network provide benefit to the entire community impacted by cloud — from providers and customers, to governments, entrepreneurs and the assurance industry — and offer a forum through which diverse parties can work together to create and maintain a trusted cloud ecosystem.

The Cloud Security Alliance (CSA) Big Data Working Group followed a three-step process to derive the top security and privacy challenges presented by Big Data:

  • Interviews with CSA members and surveys of security-practitioner oriented trade journals to draft an initial list of high priority security and privacy problems.
  • Studying published solutions.
  • Characterizing a problem as a challenge if the proposed solution does not cover the problem scenarios.


Top Ten Big Data Security and Privacy Challenges

Following this exercise, the Working Group’s researchers compiled their list of the Top 10 challenges, which are as follows:


Classification of the Top 10 Challenges, Source: CSA, Expanded Top Ten Big Data Security and Privacy Challenges

The challenges may be organized into four aspects of the Big Data ecosystem:

  • Infrastructure Security
  • Data Privacy
  • Data Management
  • Integrity and Reactive Security

The Expanded Top Ten Big Data Security and Privacy Challenges document written by the CSA provides a brief description of each challenge listed above, a review usage of Big Data that may be vulnerable, and a summary of existing knowledge according to the modeling, analysis, and implementation of each challenge:

  • Modeling: formalizing a threat model that covers most of the cyber-attack or data-leakage scenarios
  • Analysis: finding tractable solutions based on the threat model
  • Implementation: implementing the solution in existing infrastructures

The document can be obtained here.

There’s also a CSA document that describes the best practices that should be followed by big data service providers to fortify their infrastructures. In each section, CSA presents 10 considerations for each of the top 10 major challenges in big data security and privacy. In total, this listing provides the reader with a roster of 100 best practices. Each section is structured as follows:

  • What is the best practice?
  • Why should it be followed?
  • How can the best practice be implemented?

The document can be obtained here.

Swisscom offers support in implementing or reviewing such best practices in accordance with our own cloud security standards. Have a look at our whitepapers below or reach out to us for more information.

Further resources:

Swisscom has published whitepapers on cloud security in which security issues are dealt with in detail. These can be obtained as follows:

If you want to learn more about Swisscom’s portfolio and services on public cloud get in touch with us using the following links: