Does Social Media Visualization Serve as a Primer for 5G Data Visualization?

October 28, 2019
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3 min read

The deployment of 5G data technology in our daily lives will be revolutionary, but this blast of speed and data will burden cybersecurity management teams and create an entirely new set of risks to handle around issues such as mobile security and integration with smart cities.

One major challenge will be figuring out how to best scrutinize the wave of new data generated by 5G tech. To make it more feasible to manage security operations issues in a 5G world, analysts will need the ability to view visual representations of evolving data in real time. Those who manage a security operations center (SOC) already know the value of data visualization: With better data-representation capabilities in place, analysts can shift their focus from IP addresses, data packets and binary code to looking for associations and irregularities in data flows, bringing a whole new life to log and data point analysis.

Where can we look for a model of how managing data points and data traffic flows might evolve? Social media data visualization tools might be a good place to start, as they are built on points and connections, and the ways in which they make associations could provide significant value in managing cybersecurity incidents.

The Big Picture

Let’s look at this problem through a different lens: Instead of having a security issue to handle, imagine you have a marketing opportunity worth researching.

First, you would want to gain as much information as you could on your prospective customers from as many sources as possible. This data would need to be classified, weighted, sorted and aggregated.

There’s a bit of extra emphasis on the importance of weighting, especially for marketing firms — and metrics can make a huge difference here. If you get your metrics right, the effects can be far-reaching. Everything from your ROI, quality of product, innovation investments, growth strategies, and following and satisfaction rates could stand to see improvement. That’s why so many marketers chase down all the little pebbles of data from social media. Users are, in fact, giving this data away, and there are actors out there who are happy to use it to get to your money or nudge your voting habits.

However, more valuable than any point of data is establishing a connection. If you make the right connection, your message can spread like wildfire.

Now apply this principle to the situation of security: If the right connection is made, a whole network could be knocked down. If any one point is compromised, it could be a nuisance for your system, but a key connection could mean far more serious problems.

What Matters More: The Endpoint or the Connection?

What do social media data visualization tools offer their users? They help highlight data associations in a way that pops out. Think about all the ways these data points could be represented: They could be displayed according to temporal, hierarchical, network-based, multi-dimensional or geospatial considerations.

Everyone has seen at least one data visualization graphic or model and thought, “Wow! That’s cool!” In fact, you can see these representations being used to analyze security threats, as Checkpoint did when it mapped out connections inside an advanced persistent threat (APT) ecosystem.

This is where 5G comes in. By all reasonable accounts, managing 5G data will be a bit of an endpoint nightmare simply because there are so many endpoints. From a resource-management perspective, it may be most effective to focus on the connections rather than trying to track down every rogue device that has been hijacked. If you protect the associations, the unit as a whole receives added protection.

This is the philosophy to adopt as you go about protecting an entire cluster of devices all at once. Of course, the flip side of this coin is that if the cluster is not protected, a malicious actor can go right for any association. A connection-based approach has the potential to be more efficient and cost-effective, and if connections are not properly secured, the associations are more fragile.

Goals Versus Systems

Most IT spaces have probably seen a Dilbert cartoon. Its creator, Scott Adams, probably gives one of the best descriptions of the differences between goals and systems. If you’re going to be protecting your 5G data networks, you’re probably going to want to adhere to what he calls a systems approach as you address network issues. Otherwise, you may feel like you’re chasing yourself in circles.

NIST’s Special Publication 800-160 Vol. 1 is all about taking a systems approach to security needs, but as you work to secure your network (especially with the 5G explosion on the way), you will also want to have a visual representation of your endpoints and traffic flows. If you are a marketer, determining which social interactions and customers need extra attention is key, and marketers have figured out that social media data visualization can be an extremely valuable asset in this regard.

By following suit and adopting a visual, system-based approach to 5G data analysis, you can determine which associations you should focus on and which endpoints may need extra attention. After all, pathways to innovation can arise from any direction with the coming of 5G.

George Platsis

George Platsis works with the private, public and nonprofit sectors to address their strategic, operational and training needs, focusing on projects related ...
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