Increased liability is the last thing your company needs, but that’s exactly what the data explosion and the risk of data security is delivering to your doorstep. Most experts are convinced that businesses are facing an imminent uptick in risk management concerns due an exponential growth of data. 

A single online search for the term Big Data (also known as the Internet of Things or Internet 4.0) pulls up 300,000,000 Internet references (yes, that’s millions) in just two-thirds of a second. The sheer volume of accessible information depicts the double-edge sword of data: its scope is overwhelming, both in terms of business potential and business risk.

To harness the potential, you must manage the risk. Data risk is battering businesses on every side. By 2020, more than fifty billion Internet-connected devices will be feeding data into cyberspace; that number translates into a 4300% increase in annual data production.

While it’s easy to conjure up images of iPhones, iPads, and laptops, the devices that are creating data are at work in every aspect of consumer and business operations: health records, audio, video, images, transaction and web logs, thermostats, security systems, automobile telematics, machinery, medical devices, and the list goes on.  The term Internet 4.0 was coined to convey the prediction that virtually everything would one day be connected to the Internet. This result is a mind-boggling flow of data that is forcing companies to strike a balance between business risk and business potential.

The range of data breaches continues to broaden: employee misconduct, loose internal security protocol, malware, and the growing criminal enterprise of hacking. Add to that the fact that cyberattacks continue to become more sophisticated. Hackers already know how to maximize the potential of big data; in fact, they are very adept at targeting breaches at will, by industry, geographic location, company size, or most any other factor. The bad guys leave little to chance, and therein lies a recipe for disaster.

Data risk is already a reality for your business. Now that the data risks have ratcheted up more than a notch, companies are beginning to realize that the old way of doing things no longer suffices.

A 2016 Ponemon Study reveals the alarming fact that 89% of healthcare organizations experienced data breaches within the past two years, at a cost of $6.2 billion. In no way is the healthcare sector suffering alone. In 2016, up to 75% of all large businesses had to deal with the same type of data security breaches.

Surprisingly, the incidence of data breaches has shown no decline since 2010, despite increased awareness and the IT industry’s thundering call to action. The majority of companies continue to subject themselves to an overwhelming amount of risk, including the loss of confidential information, negative press, lawsuits, financial loss, and shareholder discontent. Unfortunately, for some businesses, a data breach is equivalent to a death warrant.

 A sound IT architecture is the first layer of protection against data breaches.  To mitigate risk, IT Infrastructures must be scalable rather than one step from obsolete. From a functional perspective, an IT infrastructure should be able to: integrate massive amounts of data; breakdown internal silos; deliver accurate analytics to the right recipients in a timely fashion; and have the inherent ability to identify and isolate potential data security breaches.

It is possible for a company to balance the risk and potential of big data, but it takes a concerted effort. Given today’s business environment, executives and internal IT professionals are concerned about the threat of data breaches, yet only 10% say that they have confidence in the security of their connected devices. The reason? Many companies don’t have the internal IT resources to keep up with ever-changing trends without interrupting responsibilities crucial to daily operations.

More and more companies are turning to external IT architects to help mitigate the threat of data breaches. These industry experts have the capacity and bandwidth to deliver an infrastructure that is affordable, responsive, scalable, and secure.

The time has passed to make data risk mitigation a discussion “for another day.” According to a recent Ernst & Young study1, 72% of respondents understand the importance of big data technologies as a barrier against fraud, yet only 2% had implemented any such technology. Times have changed, though, and data risk mitigation can no longer be delayed.

Companies that take the data breach epidemic seriously will hurry to implement technology that has the capacity to collect, store, analyze, and secure both historic and real-time data. These companies are positioning themselves to absorb the imminent explosion of data, giving them a competitive edge. On the other hand, companies that continue to hold to a “let’s wait and see” attitude will eventually find themselves in the “we wish we would have” heap

This article was originally published by Pump Engineer World in April 2017.

1 EY’s Global Forensic Data Analytics Survey 2014.