Data center protection: Five fundamental steps

Rodrigo Guedes

Companies all over the globe rely more and more on data to improve their performance and revenue. This has made data centers crucial infrastructures, but also mouth-watering targets for cybercriminals.

The increasing value of information has made data centers a prime target for nefarious intentions, from criminals stealing data for profit, to individuals wishing to disrupt business operations. So how can you best protect a data center? In our opinion, there are five aspects which you cannot, for any reason, disregard.

1. A top-notch access control system

Often data centers are built in isolated locations to protect them from natural disasters or invasions. However, this means it’s hard to patrol the premises and detect an issue.

Luckily, IP cameras can offer a solution. For example, when your cameras are connected to the network, you can set them to send a message to your smartphone if there’s a potential breach, such as someone approaching. Once the alert has been received, the threat can be assessed and acted upon as needed.  For example, in case of an intruder, you can set speakers to play a warning message as soon as the camera detects them; often that’s enough to discourage criminal activities.

Regarding the people who actually have access to the data center, it’s very useful to monitor who is entering. This should be done together with a time recording as well as tracking how much time they remained there, and which areas were accessed. This way, you can detect if someone is entering an area that’s restricted for them, or if they have been in a room for a suspicious amount of time – they could be up to no good or have fallen ill – both scenarios that require attention and possible action.

2. Put protocols in place

Most data centers require the compliance of protocols to function correctly, for example limiting the number of people who are allowed to enter at the same time, either in the center or in a specific area.

An intelligent video surveillance system can detect the exact number of people currently in the area, it monitors and immediately sends out an alert if the allowed quota is exceeded. Besides the amount of people, the analytics embedded in the camera can also report the average period of occupancy and sends an alert if it goes over the pre-determined threshold.

These and other occurrences, like an abandoned object on the floor of a corridor, can trigger warning sounds using the IP loudspeakers, dissuading malicious persons as well as cautioning against employees’ carelessness.

3. Store your security footage smartly

Data centers have invested in optimizing energy consumption, using smart strategies for refrigeration, efficient software for energy management and using fewer servers to process the same amount of data, including the footage collected by the security system. To do so efficiently, you must consider two factors: the amount of information that you manage from cameras up to the servers, and the required storage for its preservation for a certain period.

Apart from the compression with specific software – which prevents quality reduction – there are other ways to reduce the data flow from video surveillance systems. One is to adjust the image format, so it fits the observed area, for example recording a corridor with a vertical, instead of horizontal video, so bandwidth isn’t being wasted on “empty space”. Another well-known concept is edge storage, which means that a camera installed at the door of a rack, or in the ceiling of the data center, can be equipped with a memory card optimized for video surveillance, easing the burned of data processing for the whole system.

4. Keep your network healthy and updated

Legacy systems can be vulnerable to attacks. In 2015, CompTIA flagged in a report, called “Trends in Information Security”, that found that 85% of the successful data breaches targeted the top ten known vulnerabilities. Even though the necessary software has been available for update, these weak spots have never been patched.

As you can see, it’s essential to monitor the health of systems in a data center. Companies and government organizations that manage their own data centers can take a better control of their installations using device managing software, which constantly analyzes the status of all devices connected to the network and sends alerts when updates are needed.

5. Unified management

It’s easy to see that these technologies point in the same direction: integration. The most advanced data centers around the world already benefit from the new possibilities of integration among different devices that are connected to a network; it’s becoming evident that a centralized management of systems is extremely efficient to share information precisely and quickly. Exactly what you need to keep your security standards high.

Would you like to know more about the protection of data centers? Download our whitepaper:

5 technologies for a safer data center