Data centres: Increased risk calls for intelligent, integrated security

All data centre operators are well-versed in the language of risk. Equipment failures, power outages, cyber-attacks and hostile entities are just some of the threats that these organisations must contend with on a daily basis. In such a complex and fast-moving landscape, risk prioritisation can be extremely challenging.

Against a backdrop of skyrocketing data breaches and complex compliance mandates, many operators have turned their attention to enhancing cybersecurity resilience, concerned that the most futile threats to their organisation lurk in the digital realm. 

While it’s understandable that risk managers would take this stance, the focus on information security has become so pronounced that physical security is falling behind. Despite significant innovations in integrated security systems, many operators rely on outdated tools and siloed solutions to protect their critical assets. 

This is a risky stance to take.

Physical security: is it the chink in your data centres armour?

Recent research from Deloitte predicts that physical security incidents will increase yearly from 2022. Already, 88% of organisations have experienced sharp rises in physical threat activities compared to 2021.  

It would appear that malicious actors have caught onto the fact that the physical perimeter of the data centre might be the proverbial chink in the armour, and they are adjusting their tactics accordingly.

There is an unfortunate irony to this increase in hostile activity. For all data centre operators’ investments in risk analysis and treatment, undervaluing physical threats undermines even the most ambitious risk management programs. 

In essence, too much emphasis on protecting the digital realm of the data centre without physical security innovation is like having guards outside the front of your house but leaving the back door wide open.

Nothing illustrates this more than the case of an Icelandic data centre in 2018. In the most prominent crime spree in the history of the country, eleven individuals managed to steal 600 bitcoin servers during four separate onsite raids. 

The evolution of physical security in the data centre

By 2025, the Irish data centre industry will be worth over $3 billion. Protecting this infrastructure from theft, compromise and data loss is critical to maintaining compliance, reputation and customer trust. With so much at stake, operators cannot underestimate the significance of physical security.

Most data centre operators already have some security solutions in place to mitigate physical risks. However, in many cases, these strategies need to be updated. Organisations must take advantage of technological advancements that simplify and enhance protection. 

It is no longer effective to rely solely on one or two manned security personnel and occasional patrols to maintain security – especially when there are much more efficient, accurate alternatives available. For example, ten years ago, security officers were tasked with the cumbersome process of logging events manually at the end of each day. 

Today, software innovations and advancements in connectivity mean that intelligent CCTV cameras, thermal imaging and other connected devices can feed back live data to a remote operations centre. Staffed by security experts, this centre becomes a single-point-of-truth for the data centre, creating a unified, accurate and comprehensive picture of all potential threats.

Not only does this approach empower security professionals with enhanced insights, but it is also more cost effective, enabling operators to reduce capital expenditures over the long term. 

Intelligent, integrated security: Our defence in depth approach 

Operators must harness the power of this digitised, intelligent security approach, bringing together people, processes and technology for real-time, effective physical risk management.  

To assist data centers with this revolution, Sharp has pioneered intelligent integrated security systems that consolidate security devices, human expertise and big data analytics. The result is 24/7 situational awareness, enabling our experts to identify and remediate threats to data centres proactively and in real time. 

We’ve designed our integrated security solutions with a defence in depth approach, reducing the likelihood of unauthorised access at every possible interval: the perimeter, inside the data centre and, of course, the data centre floor. Our strategy ensures that, no matter what, your mission-critical assets are protected.

Working with one Irish operator with two data centre campus sites, for example, we implemented a new security architecture. We now deliver round-the-clock, responsive security through a combination of man-guarding and hi-tech solutions like virtual monitoring and ANPR vehicle registration systems.

Ultimately, technology innovations have transformed physical security from a reactive mission to a proactive service. As physical security risks increase, data centre operators can take advantage of some exceptionally powerful digital solutions that maximise situational awareness and reduce ever-present physical risks.