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How to build physical security into a data center

Sarah D. Scalet | April 1, 2015
Mantraps, access control systems, bollards and surveillance. Your guide to securing the data center against physical threats and intrusions.

8. Plan for bomb detection. For data centers that are especially sensitive or likely targets, have guards use mirrors to check underneath vehicles for explosives, or provide portable bomb-sniffing devices. You can respond to a raised threat by increasing the number of vehicles you checkperhaps by checking employee vehicles as well as visitors and delivery trucks.

9. Limit entry points. Control access to the building by establishing one main entrance, plus a back one for the loading dock. This keeps costs down too.

10. Make fire doors exit only. For exits required by fire codes, install doors that don't have handles on the outside. When any of these doors is opened, a loud alarm should sound and trigger a response from the security command center.

11. Use plenty of cameras.Surveillance cameras should be installed around the perimeter of the building, at all entrances and exits, and at every access point throughout the building. A combination of motion-detection devices, low-light cameras, pan-tilt-zoom cameras and standard fixed cameras is ideal. Footage should be digitally recorded and stored offsite.

12. Protect the building's machinery. Keep the mechanical area of the building, which houses environmental systems and uninterruptible power supplies, strictly off limits. If generators are outside, use concrete walls to secure the area. For both areas, make sure all contractors and repair crews are accompanied by an employee at all times.

13. Plan for secure air handling. Make sure the heating, ventilating and air-conditioning systems can be set to recirculate air rather than drawing in air from the outside. This could help protect people and equipment if there were some kind of biological or chemical attack or heavy smoke spreading from a nearby fire. For added security, put devices in place to monitor the air for chemical, biological or radiological contaminant.

14. Ensure nothing can hide in the walls and ceilings. In secure areas of the data center, make sure internal walls run from the slab ceiling all the way to subflooring where wiring is typically housed. Also make sure drop-down ceilings don't provide hidden access points.

15. Use two-factor authentication. Biometric identification is becoming standard for access to sensitive areas of data centers, with hand geometry or fingerprint scanners usually considered less invasive than retinal scanning. In other areas, you may be able to get away with less-expensive access cards.

16. Harden the core with security layers. Anyone entering the most secure part of the data center will have been authenticated at least three times, including:

a. At the outer door. Don't forget you'll need a way for visitors to buzz the front desk.

b. At the inner door. Separates visitor area from general employee area.

 

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