Big data will go mainstream when nanotechnology is embedded into humans, says Skype CISO

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The real benefits of big data won't be seen for five to 10 years, says Skype's Adrian Asher

Big data is not yet being embraced, according to Adrian Asher, chief information security officer (CISO) of the Skype division at Microsoft.

Asher told delegates at Infosecurity Europe 2013 that big data is currently just a buzzword used for marketing purposes, but that in five or 10 years' time, the real benefits of big data might be realised.

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"There is much talk about networking and e-commerce uses for big data in the future but imagine in five or 10 years, if each of us had nanotechnology embedded in us to help fight various forms of diseases.

"Once those markers are present [of a disease], they will be detected and fed into your house's gateway and then will be processed into the healthcare system. Being able to do that with animals and humans - that is when you're really embracing big data," Asher said.

"At the moment, the NHS is spending a huge amount of money on diagnostics, but if people were coming in with predetermined diagnostics this could save time and money," he stated. 

Asher's views echoed those of AstraZeneca CTO Angela Yochem, who recently told attendees at Computing's 2013 Big Data Summit that big data gathered by existing, available technology is already allowing an "efficacy of treatment" that can be applied to specific human phenotypes using personal genetic maps and geographical health data.

"This sort of thing will lead to the elimination of most curable diseases," she said.

But Skype's Asher warned that there are also drawbacks with big data, which could compromise an organisation's security.

"The police can use big data for good, but criminals can use it for bad. They can find where the best place to farm people for phishing is. They've been using big data a lot longer than security firms," he said.

But Carl Erickson, CISO and director of threat management at consumer electronics company Philips, urged companies to catch up with criminals by using big data to their own advantage.

"I want to be able to see what is going on from a big data perspective: how are the attacks coming in, what is the malware. I want to see as much as I can to see what they'd like to do to us so that I can figure out what the attacker's behaviour is," he stated.

"I don't just want to block IP addresses. I say, bring on the data. I need as much as I can get and, from an information sharing point of view, I'd like to share as much as I can with other companies that are the size of Philips, and with government departments, with whom we've got a good relationship too," he added.

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Further reading

Big Data will be a game changer in fighting diseases, says AstraZeneca

Firms lack cyber recovery plans for 'doomsday scenarios', says Bank of England

Finding the right chemistry: an interview with AstraZeneca's Angela Yochem

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