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Data centre security – ensure your site has the right physical protection

Posted: August 3rd, 2016

The data centre sector has always placed cyber security high on its agenda, but while this is indeed a key challenge, ensuring that data centres are also protected from physical attack should be of paramount importance.

Physical security breaches can lead to high value equipment, such as server units, being stolen, interruptions to service and confidential information falling into the wrong hands.

Theft, corporate espionage, vandalism and terrorism can all come into play, and have major implications for data centres and their customers.

A multi-layered approach to physical security should therefore be employed, with typical measures including:

• CCTV cameras
• Perimeter fences
• External barriers
• Alarms
• Security doors
• Security staff
• Integrated access control systems
• Retracting posts at vehicle access points
• Biometric controls, such as fingerprint recognition
• Planting and landscaping to prevent forced entry

Keeping the number of potential entry points (such as windows) to a minimum is also good practice, as is ensuring that staff are aware of their security responsibilities and limiting access to ‘mission critical’ areas to only certain members of staff, via the use of access control systems.

However, these measures may not be enough to prevent a physical security breach in a data centre.

Why? Because more traditional partitioning methods will often be used to form enclosures for server rooms, using materials such as plywood, plasterboard and insulation held within a timber frame. These solutions are not certified by an appropriate security body and offer little or no resistance to an attempted breach by determined criminals using high impact tooling equipment such as sledgehammers, disc grinders, jig saws and high powered cutting devices.

Standard brick or block walls are also vulnerable, with their joints acting as points of weakness.

The solution

Any physical security measures – such as wall panels, ceiling panels and locking systems – used to protect critical areas in a data centre, should be certified by the Loss Prevention Certification Board (the standard is LPS 1175) and/or approved by the Centre for the Protection of National Infrastructure (CPNI) to guarantee both their quality, suitability and level of certification.

Anything less than this and a facility’s ‘inner sanctum’ can be left vulnerable to physical attack – with operators left to pick up the pieces, and customers left with little confidence.

Certified, appropriate security solutions, such as high security modular panel systems manufactured by Securiclad, will protect critical areas in a data centre and safeguard servers, data and other hardware.

Securiclad’s high security panels:

• Are rated to LPS 1175 SR4 and areCPNI approved
• Address security concerns created by co-location premises
• Enable companies to compartmentalise to a higher security level
• Protect critical hardware and data from unauthorised access from elsewhere in a facility
• Minimise the exposure of sensitive hardware to dust
• Can be designed to specification and used as a ‘standalone’ wall or partition as well as a complete modular secure enclosure
• Can be installed in new buildings or retro-fitted to an existing site
• Are pre-finished and so offer cost-savings by avoiding onsite delays and the requirement for wet or hot trades in traditional building methods
• Satisfy insulation and fire rating requirements

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