McAfee today released a new report, "Needle in a Datastack," which warns that companies worldwide are failing to leverage big data for security purposes, and are rendered vulnerable to security breaches by their inability to properly analyze or store such data.

According to the results of a survey of 500 senior decision makers, commissioned by McAfee and conducted in January 2013 by Vanson Bourne, just 35 percent of respondents said they have the ability to detect data breaches within minutes -- 22 percent said it would take them a day, and 5 percent said it would take up to a week.

On average, organizations said it takes 10 hours to detect a security breach.

Of the 58 percent of respondents that had suffered a security breach in the last year, only 24 percent had detected it within minutes -- and in 46 percent of cases, the data was taken from those organizations within seconds or minutes.

"If you're in a fight, you need to know that while it's happening, not after the fact," McAfee executive vice president and CTO Mike Fey said in a statement. "This study has shown what we've long suspected -- that far too few organizations have real-time access to the simple question 'am I being breached?' Only by knowing this can you stop it from happening."

The report states that on average, organizations are storing approximately 11 to 15 terabytes of security data a week, but 58 percent of companies admit to only holding on to it for less than three months.

"To achieve real-time threat intelligence in an age where the volume, velocity and variety of information have pushed legacy systems to their limit, businesses must embrace the analysis, storage and management of big security data," the company said in a statement. "These ever-growing volumes of events, as well as asset, threat, user and other relevant data have created a big data challenge for security teams. ... Beyond just finding a 'needle in a datastack,' organizations should move to a longer time horizon with risk-based context to find the right needle, so they can proactively deal with today’s threats."