Data Center Network Security Best Practices

Data is a valuable resource that requires active and secure management. With the rise of cloud computing solutions, data centers have sprung up all over the world. These facilities must be guarded securely and with careful planning.

Network security is vital, but it cannot be removed from overall data center security. Stéphane Nappo, CISO of leading European Bank Société Générale captures it best, “Technology trust is a good thing, but control is a better one.”

This is why network security cannot be divorced from data center security. To get the best overall result, a Zero Trust Model must be put in place. This means that the physical structure of the building, as well as access controls, are as important as virtual security.

Closer Look at Data Center Security Best Practices

With security as the watchword for data centers, it is a given that they should be safe environments. But they are also highly complex and coordinated spaces of physical assets, human resources, and virtual assets. All components should be given due attention to achieve total control:

Vet your people

In the age of multiple sophisticated threats, people are just as vulnerable to threat actors. People are prone to forgetfulness in ways that can open data centers up to attacks. Humans can be socially engineered by threat actors, and their office access credentials stolen for malicious reasons.

Secure your surroundings

Understand where your building is located and what its security situation is. Naturally, security measures in a busy metropolis will differ from the security requirements in a remote and secluded location.

Your security team will be aware of the building’s infrastructure and design and how vulnerable it is to events such as power outages, fires, or storms.

Remote monitoring tools

Data center networks can be managed remotely. Responsible data center owners need to know the three Ms of this practice – remote monitoring, maintenance, and management. Data centers can be efficiently monitored for inefficiencies and threats.

You don’t always have to be on-site, and you can catch threats before they get out of hand. Sam Goh of Activeco, provides Managed IT Services Vancouver captures it well, “Remote monitoring is particularly helpful for detecting issues early on before they are affecting operations, meaning they can be addressed before they become downtime-inducing problems”.

Access points to your facility

You do not want any unauthorized individuals to gain entry to your facility. You will need to address questions such as how easy it is for them to tailgate your staff at the main entrance. What is the level of security in the reception area?

These early lines of defense are as important as actual network security and should not be taken for granted. Can you tell between a visit from your IT Support provider and a genuine threat actor?

Cabinet and racking security

Don’t become bored with the detail about the quality specifications of your physical infrastructure. Racking and cabinets house your expensive IT infrastructure and need to designed well enough to resist physical virus uploads, reckless handling, and power interruptions.

Who controls the space?

White space refers to access areas such as hallways and foyers. Consider who has authorized access to these areas and whether these areas are monitoring by cameras. Gray space refers to the areas within data centers that house backend equipment like generators, switchgear, and transformers. These need to be kept safe to avoid dangerous network interruptions.

Network security

Network-level security is rightly at the top of every security leader’s mind. If all the preliminary defenses are breached, the network will need to be the last line of defense. The number of threats is many, with malware, viruses, leaks, phishing attacks, and other online attacks being a constant risk to data centers.

Some best practices for network security include the use of access control lists (ACLs) that tighten up defenses. Firewalls are a traditional and still highly-effective way of catching threats and blocking unauthorized access. They act as the first line of defense for your network. They separate your network’s secured and unsecured areas.

Other good ideas include the monitoring of IP addresses. This helps make sense of traffic in a way that differentiates between possible threats and normal operations.

Intrusion detection systems are also a very important part of network security, as is multi-factor authentication. It’s also a good idea to have scheduled penetration testing done by an external IT support provider.

Secure all endpoints

With remote working becoming more common, the need to secure endpoints is more pressing. There is also an emerging culture of Bring Your Own Device (BYOD). This makes endpoint protection more difficult and no less important. Every endpoint is a soft spot for malicious attacks.

It’s vital to have an overall, holistic view of your network, no matter how many endpoints you have. It’s a good idea to protect your data center‘s endpoints by installing traps directly at every endpoint. This is a slightly different approach to having firewalls, which protect total network integrity. The use of traps in endpoint protection can catch and quarantine a threat effectively.

Correctly dispose of redundant infrastructure

Redundant infrastructure needs to be handled correctly. Primarily, data erasure needs to be effective and accurate to make sure it does not get into the wrong hands. There are professional services for the proper disposal of outdated and redundant equipment. These need to be used as often as possible to maintain network security.

Conclusion

Enhancing your data center network security can seem daunting with so many factors to consider. The most important thing to remember is that your data is invaluable, and its protection needs have a cradle-to-grave approach.

Always ensure you are putting your data in the safest hands possible. Do not take shortcuts and listen to the experts.

Every data center’s exact needs are different. But you can adapt plans and strategies to fit your requirements. It is critical to take an active part in the security strategy that you select and implement.

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