Businesses have been reminded of the importance of having strong security measures in place to protect sensitive information, as the number of companies looking to gather data for use in large-scale analytics programmes grows.

This is according to a new survey by SANS, which revealed more than half of organisations (55 per cent) are currently deploying a big data solution, while a further 28 per cent plan to implement such projects within the next two years.

As the amount of data collected by businesses for analysis grows, many companies are therefore likely to become more attractive targets for cyber criminals. The survey revealed that almost three-quarters of respondents (73 per cent) store personally identifiable information within their big data applications, while 72 per cent store corporate information and intelligence.

John Pescatore, SANS director of emerging technologies and advisor on the survey, said: "Building security into and around big data storage and analytics systems will be key to avoiding expensive, large scale breaches of sensitive business and customer data."

This is an issue that is being increasingly recognised by businesses, however. SANS analyst and author of the survey Barbara Filkins said that in the coming years, companies will be focusing more on data-oriented controls such as encryption to ensure that security measures are able to travel within the information, rather than occurring solely at the application layer.

"Those interests echo the need for comprehensive security controls that maintain the benefits of big data without compromising security," she said.

Over the next year, respondents are set to focus their big data security efforts on access control, data classification and policy-aware infrastructure solutions.

"Respondents say their organisations are also focusing on data de-identification and monitoring their session and service controls in support of use business analysis cases," Ms Filkins added.