Your Complete Physical Data Center Security Checklist


Tech Insights for ProfessionalsThe latest thought leadership for IT pros

Thursday, December 15, 2022

Keeping data centers safe is paramount for any business. Here are the best ways to physically protect your facility against threats.

Article 5 Minutes
Your Complete Physical Data Center Security Checklist

For most businesses, the data center is the most important aspect of operations. It supports the majority of core activities, like processing large datasets and housing network infrastructure and, as such, keeping it secure should be at the top of any company’s priority list.

Fortunately, there are plenty of identity and access management (IAM) solutions on offer, allowing businesses to protect sensitive information and ensure access to it is restricted.

However, organizations invest a large amount of money in the physical hardware required by a data center. As such, the security of the site is pertinent to prevent any unauthorized access to information, equipment and data.

To that end, let’s take a look at some of the best ways to secure your data center in our physical security checklist.

Securing your facility for any event

You may think the likelihood of your data center falling victim to extreme weather or a natural disaster is negligible, but when hurricane Sandy traveled through the US in 2012, several data centers suffered flooding which disabled fuel pumps, eventually shutting off the power and bringing each to a standstill.

An Uptime Intelligence survey revealed that 45% of data centers have experienced weather that has threatened operations, while just under 10% have suffered significant disruption as a result. So, to ensure maximum uptime, you need to prepare well.

Additionally, it’s important to remember that physical security doesn’t just include the outside of the building. Data centers should be equipped to continue operating if a particular system fails. Back up your heating, ventilation, security and air conditioning systems to avoid significant disruption in the event of a power failure.

Access control systems

Companies with a cloud-based access control system will be able to combine their tech stack with hardware in the data center. For example, credential storage within readers allows for remote monitoring and management and access control technology can also be integrated with intrusion alarm systems and two-factor authentication.

Your staff should be issued with photo identification which, once approved, will control their access to the facility. Similarly, any visitors to your data center could receive an ID card that restricts their access to specific areas.

All businesses are required to follow strict compliance guidelines for physical data center security. If a breach was to occur, you have to be able to see who was the last person in the room and when. With a strong access control system, you can export this information in a matter of seconds.

The complete physical data center security checklist

The location of your data center is a key determinant of the most appropriate security options, but to achieve optimal protection, these measures should be considered non-negotiable.

Remember, security measures are not solely for the purpose of preventing breaches, but also to reduce the chances of criminals succeeding. Let’s take a look at the best ways you can defend your data center.

1. Physical barriers

For a physical breach to occur at your data center facility, the perpetrators must have found some way to enter the property. Installing a fence with a minimum height of three meters will dissuade intruders and make it much more difficult for those more committed to making their way in. It might also be wise to invest in enclosed server racks that come with additional security measures such as electronic locks.

2. Perimeter wiring

Now that you’ve got a fence surrounding the perimeter of your data center, add an extra layer of protection by wrapping a layer of wire around the top of it. Trembler wire is perfect for the job - an alarm will trip if sensors detect movement or pressure. Additionally, you’ll get a notification of exactly what part of the wire was disrupted, so you can divert your response accordingly.

3. CCTV cameras

It may seem quite self-explanatory, but limiting the number of entry points and combining a variety of video surveillance cameras is a simple way to significantly bolster your physical security. Low-light cameras, motion-detection devices and pan-tilt-zoom cameras will deter intruders and document those who do attempt to breach your facility, digitally storing the evidence off-site.

4. Security officers

Employing guards will keep you one step ahead of any breach. They can man your facility around the clock, with one watching the systems and another following a route around the perimeter, looking for signs of a threat. It’s a preventative method, as it wards off anyone thinking about breaking into your data center.

5. Biometric access

Biometric entry systems significantly improve authentication and identity management in data centers. It’s not dependent on the possession of some physical item, like an access card. Additionally, it’s incredibly difficult to duplicate behavioral and biological characteristics, meaning a very low possibility of being tampered with.

However intricate your security system is, make sure to constantly test it to make sure all components are working as they should be. Moreover, any staff hired for this reason should receive regular training on compliance and processes.

Most, if not all, data is valuable to an unauthorized third party. Data breaches are incredibly detrimental to organizations and come with extreme financial consequences, so make sure your business implements multiple layers of security to reduce your risk.

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