As more businesses embrace big data analytics solutions, the amount of information held in databases all around the world is growing at an extremely fast rate. However, while this presents many new opportunities to gain insights, it also creates challenges.

One of the biggest issues is security. These applications present a tempting target for criminals as data volumes rise, offering them personal and financial details that can be used for fraud.

In previous years, internal applications that make use of this data have been regarded as low risk. However, it was noted by Data Center Knowledge that as adoption of web, mobile and cloud-based applications increases, sensitive data becomes accessible via more platforms, some of which are particularly vulnerable to hackers.

"The more data is stored, the more vital it is to ensure its security," stated contributor Aleksandr Panchenko, head of A1QA's complex web QA department. "A lack of data security can lead to great financial losses and reputational damage for a company. As far as big data is concerned, losses due to poor IT security can exceed even the worst expectations."

There are a range of particular challenges when it comes to big data security that were identified by Mr Panchenko. For example, he noted that the pace of change of the sector creates difficulties.

Because tools such as NoSQL databases are constantly evolving, it is very difficult for security solutions to keep up with demand. Most distributed systems' computations also have only a single level of protection, which is not recommended.

The sheer scale of the data involved also poses challenges. For instance, validation processes to ensure incoming data is trustworthy are often not performed, while detailed audits are not routinely performed on big data due to the huge amount of information involved.

Meanwhile, some companies are unwilling or unable to institute access controls to ensure only approved personnel have access to applications. And even among those businesses that do put solutions in place, access control encryption and connections security can quickly become dated and inaccessible to the IT specialists who rely on it.

To overcome these obstacles and ensure that big data analytics applications are as secure as possible, Mr Panchenko offered several recommendations. For starters, he advised companies to focus on applications security as opposed to device security, as well as isolate servers that contain critical data,

Companies should also look to implement real-time security information and event management solutions that can give early warnings of any unusual behaviour that may be an indicator of a data breach. Being able to react quickly to any alerts could make the difference between a successful defence or sensitive data being compromised.

"Malicious attacks on IT systems are becoming more complex and new malware is constantly being developed," Mr Panchenko said. "Unfortunately, companies that work with big data face these issues on a daily basis. Nevertheless, every problem has a solution and finding an effective and suitable answer for your organisation is indeed possible."