Can Big Data Solve the DoD’s Big Data Problem?


Federal Computer Week recently ran a story on how the US Department of Defense is creating more supply chain related security vulnerabilities through the continued expansion of suppliers. But at an Intelligence and National Security Alliance event, government officials and providers suggested that Big Data can do much to manage the growing security risk created by the department’s ever-expanding portfolio of suppliers. This includes not just the DoD’s 5,000 suppliers, but the many more providers that supply hardware, software and more to those suppliers.

“Think about all of the potential points of entry,” said a Northrop Grumman compliance director. One DoD deputy director said they generally try tackling the problem through intelligence centers that identify and compile supply chain threats in a report to suppliers—a process that can take weeks and months.

Sound familiar?

For what is this threat information but data that must be discovered, managed, and acted upon?—a growing problem for businesses and government organizations alike. The DoD needs to get the right data into the right hands—and in this case, in a real time and compliant manner—to ensure the growing security vulnerabilities are identified, communicated in a governed way, and addressed by the appropriate parties.

The DoD, simply put, has a Big Data problem—but one the department and its industry counterparts is arguing can be solved by Big Data. With the level of control and visibility the DoD used to have over their suppliers and other dependencies (e.g., transportation, power and Internet service providers) receding, many seem to agree that Big Data-driven innovations could help fill any security holes that exist between suppliers or within the suppliers themselves.

I agree with these assessments. It’s an opportunity not just for Big Data to flex its military muscle but for smart data cataloging as well. For what does smart data cataloging accomplish after all? In a nutshell, it automatically discovers and delivers data where it’s needed. Instead of “weeks and months,” the data is put to use, doing its job in a matter of days. The value of certain data is often attached to how quickly it can be moved from collection to application, but for an organization that must contend with all sorts of military threats—cyber and otherwise—the speed in which it’s able to collect and apply intelligence could mean the difference between identifying a threat and experiencing an actual breach.

Can Big Data help solve the DoD’s Big Data problem? I have no doubt.