The lack of a clear strategy for securing businesses' most sensitive information could be one of the major barriers that prevent companies from fully exploiting big data analytics, a new survey has warned.

Research conducted by Dataguise revealed that almost three-quarters of enterprises (73 per cent) report that their big data initiatives have been delayed or even abandoned altogether as a result of security concerns.

Even when companies have put in place multiple layers of defences, there is still a lack of confidence that data will be safe. Less than half of respondents (47 per cent) had faith in their security solutions.

One common issue is that too many people will have access to data. While four out of five companies (80 per cent) indicated their IT teams were able to access the business' most sensitive information, 40 per cent also said test and development teams also had access. More worryingly, nearly a third of firms (29 per cent) indicated that end-users throughout the enterprise maintained the ability to view sensitive information.

When it comes to testing the security measures of their big data initiatives, although 62 per cent stated their solutions had passed audits, 11 per cent reported a failure, while 20 per cent did not know whether or not their systems had passed.

JT Sison, vice-president of marketing and business development for Dataguise, said: "As we have experienced, many companies are throwing everything they have at IT security challenges. The problem is that even multiple point solutions still leave gaps that put these organisations at risk."

This is likely to become an even more widespread problem as companies continue their transition to big data frameworks. The study found that 28 per cent of respondents reported more than a year's experience with these platforms, while a further 38 per cent are in various stages of adoption.

One key step that will be essential of security challenges are to be overcome is to make it clear who has responsibility for this. The research found that 88 per cent of companies stated their IT security team – including the CISO and CIO – would face scrutiny if they encountered a breach, while 47 per cent added that the CEO and board of directors would also shoulder some responsibility.

Dataguise noted that this illustrates how IT teams are at greatest risk if there is a security incident, and so must take the lead in strengthening big data infrastructure to reduce the risk of unauthorised access.

However, it also makes clear how the C-suite also needs to be focusing on this area. Big data analytics initiatives are unlikely to be successful without support from the board level, and this needs to extend to ensuring the security of frameworks.