Best Practices for Protecting Your Data Center Against Physical Threats and Intrusions

Posted by Instor on Jan 31, 2018 9:00:00 AM

Modern data centers are becoming the central nodes that control today’s wealth and information. These facilities guard critical and sensitive data. As a result, over the last five years, more than $45 billion of investment capital has flowed into the industry.



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Increasingly, Security is An Area to Take Seriously

Expensive equipment and invaluable data make data centers a lucrative target for both old-school robbery and new-age hacking. Data center managers have to physically protect the infrastructure such as federal buildings and financial institutions. Any relaxation of security will be exploited. Data center designers and managers have to take into account every aspect of the facility to ensure the safety of their infrastructure.

Here are the key areas of physical security that every data center should consider:


Use a Low-Key Location

In many cases, data centers need to be far away from their headquarters. It ensures that rogue employees or visitors have less opportunity to exploit access. Also, there should be enough distance from busy main roads. Even if your data center is in a populated area, avoid using any signage to draw attention to the facility. The location should make it harder for criminals to scout around for weak points.


Consider Blast Resistant Walls

Use thick concrete walls that can withstand explosives. Make sure the architect follows well-established guidelines for protecting the building against explosive blasts. FEMA provides build design guidelines that can be applied to data centers to prevent large-scale attacks.


Avoid Windows

Windows are vulnerable points in any data center. Avoid windows that expose data center to the outside world. All windows should use shatter-resistant laminated glass.


Limit Entry Points

Every access point increases the probability of a breach. Most data centers opt for a single entry point and a single loading dock. This gives security managers more control to monitor regular employees and guests. Loading bay access should have proper procedures to verify deliveries. Make sure emergency fire doors are exit only. Monitor the doors using alarms.


Anti-Pass and Mantraps

Unauthorized people can tailgate authorized users into restricted areas. Use mantraps to allow a single person to enter through any entry-point. On the flip side, design your entry-point using anti-pass philosophy so anyone who slips into a restrictive area gets trapped.


Avoid Hinges on the Outside

Outward facing hinges are vulnerabilities on doors and windows. Instead of attacking the lock, intruders can take apart the hinges and dismantle the doors and windows.


Use Plenty of Cameras

CCTV can help data centers monitor all exits and facility floors. Use good-quality cameras to capture images. Make sure the footage is backed in real-time at an off-site facility. If intruders steal the onsite footage or damage the equipment, you should still be able to retrieve the necessary information.


Use Automated Door Controls

Access key cards can make it easier to keep track of employees and visitors. This creates an auditable log or record. Security-concerned facilities are moving toward biometrics for more secure access. Also, automated door controls allow you to create priority levels. It gives you more granularity and control over employees and visitors.


Trained and Permanent Security Personnel

Using contract security staff can be a high-risk endeavor. They might lack proper training or not understand the importance of all the process and procedures. It’s harder to infiltrate the security team when the team members are acquainted with each other.


Regular Internal Testing and Auditing

Data center managers should set up regular testing and auditing schedules to ensure all components are working properly. Without a disciplined approach, it’s easy for a broken CCTV or a tampered door to go unnoticed. Also, modern facility management software tools can be used to monitor employee and visitor access logs to notice any behavioral anomalies.

Data centers are large facilities with lots of moving components. It’s not possible to shut down every access-point. But best practices can help data center managers mitigate the risks.