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Data Center Security Design

Instructor: Kaitlin Oglesby

Kaitlin has a BA in political science and experience teaching.

As a given data center can hold billions of dollars worth of data, it is important to keep them secure. This lesson focuses on the business of data center security, starting with the exterior and ending with the servers themselves.

Why Secure a Data Center?

During the Great Depression, when masked gunmen would rob banks at will, it wasn't just the cash that was the big loss for the bank. In each vault were the documents that proved that the bank owned the debt owned from loans, liens, and mortgages. In short, the bank's vault was a data center.

Today, few banks just keep paper records. Instead, they keep electronic records in data centers, alongside payment information to retailers, health records from hospitals and health insurance companies, and plenty of other data. In short, there are plenty of reasons for unsavory individuals to target data centers. Most often, they present an opportunity to increase the chances that someone's identity is stolen by people who hack data centers. In this lesson, we'll take a look at how data centers are secured.

Outside the Building

When you approach a data center, you likely won't know what it is unless you know what you're looking for. Data centers are designed to look incredibly non-descript, so it just looks any other warehouse. However, not every warehouse has fences with razor wire and surveillance cameras monitoring every approach. Again, if you look close, there are some major differences. A warehouse may have multiple entrances and exits, while a data center will have only one point of access. In fact, sometimes data centers use ditches, armed guards, and tire puncture equipment to further secure the perimeter.

Inside the Building

Once you are inside a data center, do not expect to just walk to the data. Instead, there are plenty of mechanisms in place to limit where you go. Only individuals with reason to access data are allowed to do so. In fact, many data centers use man traps to limit access by using two-factor authentication. A fingerprint or badge scan may let you step in to the first door of the server room, but a second door won't open without a retina scan or voice identification. Meanwhile, if improper access was gained, the first door won't open, effectively trapping the individual until the authorities arrive.

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