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Google crushes, shreds old hard drives to prevent data leakage

Jon Brodkin, Network World | April 25, 2011
Google is shedding some of the secrecy around its data center practices, with a new video that shows extensive security measures and the destruction of old hard drives to prevent leakage of customer data.

Google uploaded the video to YouTube on April 13, before last week's Amazon Elastic Compute Cloud outage, but then released a blog about the video on Friday, the day after the Amazon outage.

Google data centers connect to the Internet with multiple, redundant high-speed fiber optic cables to protect against failure, and have emergency backup generators in case of power outages. Customer data access automatically shifts form one data center to another in the event of fire.

The issue with Amazon was a different one, though. Amazon's outage stemmed from what it called a "networking event" that "triggered a large amount of re-mirroring" of storage volumes, creating a capacity shortage and taking virtual machines offline.

The Google video places much of its emphasis on physical security measures. Access to data center locations is tightly controlled, with no public tours or site visits. Cars are verified upon entry at a checkpoint manned around the clock, while difficult-to-forge badges are used for access inside the buildings. Some data centers even use iris scans to verify employees' identities.

Automated video analytics detect anomalies and alert security staff, and some data centers use "sophisticated thermal imaging cameras" to identify potential intruders by their heat signatures. Google security staff use carts, jeeps and scooters to respond to problems and maintain relationships with local law enforcement in case police backup is needed.

 

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