Data Center Security Best Practices In 2021: What You Need To Know

Someone hands you over a pile of freshly-minted gold coins with the task of keeping it protected. What would you do? Would you store it with the other belongings or would you lock it under multiple layers of Data Center Security? Of course, when it comes to safeguarding something so valuable, I bet you won’t take chances. Right?

Agree or not, your data centers-a virtual goldmine of information-are equally precious. An integral component of your digital infrastructure, these data centers house the hardware and software that process, distribute, and store mission-critical information. Assuring its safety and security is, therefore, vital.

So, which security standards do you need to comply with to safeguard your data center facility from external and internal threats? Let’s dive in and discuss.

Growing Importance of Data Center Security

Your data center servers store all your critical business Data Center Security, be it your customer information, financial reports, intellectual property, or even trade secrets. If somehow, this information gets leaked, it can have far-reaching consequences, some of which include:

Financial Loss:

As a data center owner, you may have promised to secure your customer information. Failing to do so can bring financial and legal repercussions.

Reputational Damage:

If the word gets out that you aren’t taking steps to protect your customer data, they won’t have a reason to trust you. A dent in your reputation is a bigger loss than any financial damage.

Non-Compliance:

Every data center has to comply with several industry regulations-PCI DSS, HIPAA, GDPR, and so on. All of these involve security in one way or the other.

So, this goes without saying-you can never take the security of your data center for granted. You’ve to take steps to ensure your premises are adequately guarded, all cyber-security measures are in place, and industry standards have been met.

Let us look at how you can do so.

1) Build Physical Security Infrastructure

Building layers of physical infrastructure is the very first step in ensuring the security of your facility. Try to bring in the latest, most robust security features, including advanced access controls and top-notch surveillance systems.

Location is the Key

I cannot emphasize this enough-choose the right location for your data center facility. Carefully plan out the physical space of your data center. Here are some areas you should avoid building your data center in/around:

  • Low-lying areas
  • Power Plants
  • Airports
  • High-risk seismic zones
  • Chemical Facilities
  • Areas prone to natural disasters (Hurricanes, Wildfires)

When layering security around your data center facility, make sure to consider climatic conditions, seismic activity, geographical terrain, and natural/man-made disasters. Reinforced concrete walls can secure your building from explosives and other external elements.

Alternatively, you can choose to build an underground facility. An underground location is possibly the safest place to build a data center, provided there’s provision for air quality monitoring and cooling.

Limited Entry and Exit Points

Restricting entry (and exit) points to/from the data center minimizes the risk of a physical break-in. ideally, there should be one entrance at the front for clients and employees, and another in the back for loading/unloading stuff.

All buildings are required to have a fire exit, so when you build one, make sure your doors don’t have handles on the outside. It’s good to have an alarm attached to the fire exit. So, if someone tries to sneak in, the alarm gets triggered and your security personnel can respond well in time to avoid any mishap.

Equally important is to monitor all your entry and exit points, be it your main entrance, back entrance, or fire exit. This way you can keep a track of every individual entering/exiting the building. Maintain a record of persons authorized to access your entry/exit points. Also, there should be a procedure for revoking access for individuals who have left your data center business. 

Barriers for Restricting Access

In addition to limited entry points, barriers such as thick concrete walls and fencing can be built to insulate the facility from external threats.

Barriers such as fencing and thick concrete walls are some of the physical security features that data centers can offer. Crash-proof barriers can be created to maintain a buffer zone around the data center site. Avoid windows as far as possible. Even if you are building one, restrict it to the break room or the administrative area. And yes, use premium-quality laminated glass in your windows.

2) Monitor and Limit Physical as well as Virtual Access

You can implement technology-enabled features in your premises to track and restrict physical as well as virtual access to your equipment. Here are a few things can you can implement:

Multi-Factor Authentication

It is good to have multiple checkpoints throughout the Data Center Security facility. Any individual who needs access to your servers should go through the following authentication points:

•          Visitor/Employee ID

•          Fingerprint Scan

•          Facial/Retinal Scan (in addition to fingerprints)

•          Rack/Cage Key

•          Badge Key Card (For private suites)

Every employee doesn’t need access to every part of your facility. For every zone that has been individually secured, more than one form of identification should be required. There should be metal detectors to reduce the incidence of threats.

With so many barriers in place, the chances of unwarranted access are reduced.

Surveillance Systems

Your premises should be equipped with high-resolution security cameras at all strategic locations-entry and exit points, building perimeter, hallways, and rack aisles. In addition, security personnel should be deployed to monitor the entry/exit points as well as the equipment. This way, you can be assured of round-the-clock surveillance and get real-time updates on any suspicious activity inside the premises.

Zero-Trust Architecture

These days, data center facilities are working towards creating a zero-trust architecture. Zero-trust architecture is a security model that treats every transaction, movement, or iteration of data as suspicious. It assumes no actor, system, or services operating from within the security perimeter (of the data center) should be automatically trusted and, therefore, verifies everything trying to connect to its systems and alerts staff and revokes rights if an aberration is detected.

3) Secure your Data and Networks with the Right Tools

In addition to the aforementioned features, you need to have tools to monitor and shield your network from internal as well as external threats. To accomplish this, it’s essential that you properly configure and secure your end-points, networks, and firewalls. Tools for intrusion detection, IP address monitoring, and firewalls need to be in place.

For securing your web servers in India, tools like reverse proxies are immensely helpful. Reverse proxies are similar to a load balancer that sit in front of the web server and access both static and dynamic content, thus preventing the user from accessing the main server for every query.

Furthermore, conduct regular audits of your assets, security processes, and access protocols. Also, use network-level encryption to protect your data in transit and server-level encryption for data at rest.

4) Maintain Data Backups and Redundant Infrastructure

Another aspect of data centers that you need to keep in mind is redundancy. Businesses availing data center services in India demand high uptime, in the absence of which they incur heavy losses. And to keep the downtime to a minimum, data centers need to have a redundant infrastructure in place. This means they should have at least one additional source for utilities like power, cooling, electricity, and network connections.

A major reason for outages is power failure. To keep your facility immune from any such failures, have a provision for UPS or generators to keep your equipment operational during power outages. Another common reason for an outage is equipment failure. By maintaining surplus hardware and network connections, you can ensure the availability of equipment when a disaster strikes. Typically, large organizations choose data centers with a ranking of tier-3 or higher. This is because tier 3 data centers offer a high level of redundancy. So, their business continues to operate normally, even during times of distress.

Typically, large organizations choose data centers with a ranking of tier-3 or higher. This is because tier-3 data centers offer a high level of redundancy. So, their business continues to operate normally, even during times of distress.

5) Maintain your Servers and Systems in Good Condition

Keeping your equipment hard to access is one thing. Maintaining them in good working condition is another and must be done to fortify your infrastructure and keep it operational.

Cooling:

Your data centers run on a variety of hardware that generate a large amount of heat. If you aren’t vigilant enough, high temperature can cause your equipment to break down or, in extreme cases, burn or melt. So, it’s vital for data centers to have robust temperature and humidity control systems.

Power Supply:

You can face power outages for any number of reasons, be it human error or inclement weather. They also happen on account of power fluctuations. Irrespective of the reason behind it, you should have backup power systems that can go operational to keep the equipment and servers running.

Patching and Updating:

Patching and updating your systems from time to time is a great way of filling security gaps that might have been discovered in them later on. By patching regularly and timely, you can fix vulnerabilities that malicious actors can possibly exploit. Updating your servers with the latest software releases avoid major hassles down the line.

The Final Word

With businesses transitioning their critical workloads on hosted servers in India, data centers have become central to the functioning of the industry. Implementing Data Center Security best practices on a timely and regular basis can not only protect your facility from bad actors, but also shield it against financial and reputational losses.

So, how many of these practices have you implemented in your data center? Let us know in the comment section.

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