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Vulnerability Is The Most Concerning ‘V’ Of Big Data
December 27, 2016 News big data Vulnerability


Until now, to describe the phenomenon that is big data, experts have been using the five Vs: Volume, Velocity, Variety, Veracity and Value. However, a sixth ‘V’ is becoming a new norm as it also concerns the enterprises in a big way and something which deserves the most attention, Vulnerability. While the rest of the ‘V’ from Big data speak of Big Data capabilities, the 6th ‘V’, as quoted by author Bernard Marr, happens to be one of the most debated and urgent topics; Vulnerability.

Undoutedly, Big Data has got all the world’s attention and most cases, for the right reasons, due to the multiple capabilities it brings. It not only helps brands in having a better understanding of the customer, but also make better business optimization and improves performance levels of organizations. While we make use of Big Data in more ways than we can count, there lies an ethical question of vulnerability of the customer data, to unauthorized scrutiny, and hence the issue of vuulnerability becomes a key consideration.

The 6th V and why?

While there are definitely multiple sources for acquiring customer data, but keeping the data confidential is the something the industry is battling with. As mentioned by Marr, “Vulnerability addresses the fact that a growing number of people are becoming switched on to the fact that their personal data, the lifeblood of many commercial Big Data initiatives, is being gobbled up by the gigabyte, used to pry into their behavior and, ultimately, sell them things.”

Experian, the credit reference agency, also mentioned similar views in their latest whitepaper. To look at the data vulnerability aspect, one could look at a behavioral aspect at the issue, as John Roughley, Experian’s head of strategy and credit services explained, “We think about things emotionally, and the emotion that’s associated with data is sometimes one of nervousness, anticipation or vulnerability.That’s partly because it’s new but it’s also because everyone’s seen stories in the press about data breaches, and most people have experienced their data being misused in some shape or form – the phone ringing off the hook with people asking about payment protection insurance, or telling me I’ve had an accident when I know I haven’t.”

The primary fears around Big Data Vulnerability could be addressed through basic questions like, Who and how did my data reach these companies contacting me? Till what extent do they have access to my data and have information which is personal? What about the financial information that I have put out? Will all of that be stolen by hackers to siphon off money from my account? But in order to address these concerns, there are need to be some major steps such as the primary one; assuring customers, that whatever data they provide the company, it will be safely stored, will not be lost, used for malicious purposes.

As John Roughley explained, “It’s about doing what you promise you will do, and as organizations we need to make sure we are always acting with integrity with regards to the custodianship of someone’s data. It’s about keeping it secure, keeping it safe, and not breaking any promises with regards to what we will do with it.”

The Result

Now that the primary concern of data vulnerability is addressed and the reasons behind, the result of having a more cautious experience for the customer, needs to be looked into. This is the the 5th ‘V’ of Big Data will come in, value. If customers are to be assured to the fullest extent possible, and on real time, about developments and the purpose of their data, then the vulnerability factor can be a clearer picture. Value in this case, is making decisions based on that data, or trying to use the same data set for offering greater value back to the customer itself.

Roughley simplified saying, “We can start to help people with how they can extract the most value from their data, how they can use it to find a cheaper energy tariff, or help them get a mortgage, or share their Fitbit data with their doctor to get better medical advice.But before we actually get to that point, we’ve all got to recognize how we as individuals are currently conditioned to think about data.”

To put things on simpler scale, data vulnerability can be taken care of multiple ways; from securing the data and keeping the apparatus up to date, to actually following an ethical line of disclosure for customer data, and using it for real value ought to address the current problem.