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Five Ways to Ensure Data Center Physical Security

Updated on March 8, 2022
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With a large amount of valuable data, data centers are continuously exposed to security threats. Many organizations focus more on cybersecurity threats when planning data center security strategy, glossing over physical security issues. Actually, One of the top responsibility areas for data centers falls into physical security that should not be an afterthought. With the high complexity of modern data centers and the increasing attacks on data centers, protection strategies should be upgraded. Here are five effective ways to ensure the physical security of data centers.

Secure Location

Ensuring data center facilities are protected from high-risk natural and man-made disaster areas is critical to maintaining information security and reliability. Therefore, data centers should be built away from high-risk areas where hurricanes, earthquakes, tsunamis, and floods are frequent. Considering man-made issues, the areas your data center should avoid also include airports, power plants, and chemical facilities.

In addition, data centers should preferably be away from major roads to build buffer zones made up of landscaping and crash-proof barriers.

Robust Infrastructure & Protection System

Aside from the location, data centers should also enhance the reliability of their infrastructure and protection system to avoid damage caused by internal natural hazards like fire. For example, reinforced concrete walls and structures can be used to protect the facility from external attacks. And data centers should be deployed with the following protection system.

  • Environmental control system to monitor and regulate temperature and humidity

  • Uninterruptible power supply (UPS)

  • A fire alarm system, an aspirating smoke detection system, and fire protection systems with a zoned dry-pipe sprinkler

  • Rodent repellent system to prevent rats from destroying servers and wires.

Multi-layered Access Control

The optimal and strategic way to ensure data center security is to manage it by layers. Multiple layers provide a structured physical protection model, thus making it easy to analyze faults and take appropriate effective protection measures for each layer.

For example, there are fences and barriers outside the data center to isolate and protect the building. Secure manned checkpoints are set up at the entrances, where initial entry requires registration and verification by security personnel. Staff can rely on access cards to enter the data center gates. For more important layers, more complex identification such as fingerprinting or biometrics is required to further prevent unauthorized access.

Multi-layered Access Control

Video Surveillance

Video surveillance is an extremely valuable and cost-effective tool to reduce security threats. With security surveillance, staff in the monitoring room can detect intrusion or accidents in time and respond appropriately. Video recordings can also be used as evidence to demand compensation from attackers. Because of their advantages of securing data centers at all times, cameras should be installed throughout the building at every entrance and exit.

Security Control Tests

The above measures are often taken at the outset. As people become familiar with the whole protection system, various strategies or technologies that can evade or undermine these preparations arise insidiously. Therefore, regular testing of physical security controls is essential for the long-term protection of data centers. There are many areas requiring tests, such as validating access control systems, CCTV cameras, and various detection systems are functioning and are being maintained. It is also important to check employee system access and operation rights after any job role changes. Besides, employee engagement and security awareness are also critical. Employees can be trained on the security measures to be followed and the consequences of violating procedures, which can effectively prevent them from attacking data centers for personal interest.

Conclusion

Overall, data centers play a critical role in an organization’s operations and productivity. They house expensive equipment and sensitive data, making them vulnerable to various threats. Most organizations focus on data centers' software security. However, a breach in physical security could cause the theft of data and damage to devices, for which virtual security measures are useless. It is important to implement appropriate physical security controls to ensure a secure data center. Hopefully, the above five ways can be helpful.

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