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Technology catches up with access control in data centres

15 February 2015

Protecting access is all important, and biometrics is one technology that currently is proving most effective.

It is believed that breaches of security at data centres comprise over 40 percent of data loss, sabotage and attack. More than ever before data centre security and physical IT assets are at risk. Whether it is from perceived outside threats or from internal team members, threats to the data and the customers’ critical data continue to grow. A 2011 Gabriel Group Survey states that over 60 percent of today’s malicious security breaches are at the hands of company insiders.

Data centre operators have long understood the need for physical access control on server cabinets. In corporate facilities, where data centres are potentially accessible by a significant number of employees, mission-critical servers must be protected from thumb drive data theft and from theft of a server itself. Those same considerations apply to co-location facilities, which must also reassure customers that their servers are individually secure within a generally secured facility.

Certainly, there are many ways of securing data centres, and many solutions have evolved over time to address the problems of access control at doors and server cabinets.

Physically securing private information in data centres has proven challenging however, as the necessary technology has lagged far behind network security technology. The network security industry is a steady stream of innovative response to high-tech threats, but for most data centres, physical security rests with technology from the last millennium.

In practice, even those enterprises that are highly concerned about addressing risks related to physical access have been unable to elevate alerts and audits to the level possible for network security. This is primarily a matter of deficient technology, as 100 percent accurate alerting and auditing systems for physical access have typically extended no further than a data centre’s front door.

The problem is because those systems evolved separately to address individual access points, rather than addressing the overall needs of the data centre.

Biometric access
One solution to this problem is biometrics - systems designed with an eye toward overall facility needs, and with an ability to serve as a single, networked platform to secure every access point throughout a data centre – right up to the server cabinets themselves.

A partnership between two of the leading manufacturers in the physical data centre security and cabinet market accessory markets has developed a new biometric operated swinghandle that provides finger print recognition technology stored and processed in the cabinet handle with an ‘Indisputable Audit Trail’ to protect valuable data. It is compliant with the various data privacy rules and regulations such as PCI, SOX, SSAE 16 and HIPPA.

This partnership comprises EMKA, a leading manufacturer of locking technology for data cabinets, and Digitus, a leader in physical data centre security, and a provider of proven biometric and card access technology to customers ranging from military installations to large co-location facilities.

The need to protect sensitive data has never been higher, from the perspective of both good business practice and regulatory compliance – and that applies to physical as well as to network access.

Physical security does not guarantee compliance, and compliance does not guarantee physical security. But the availability of a single, networked platform that can deliver biometric access control to every access point within an enterprise, with an indisputable audit trail, is a strong step toward unifying compliance and security programs – right up to the server cabinets themselves.

There are already in excess of 500 of the new EMKA/Digitus biometric cabinet access systems installed to date, none of which have been breached.

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