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Why is access control important in data centres?

Gaurav Bali
Gaurav Bali

24th February 2023


Security and protection against unauthorised access to systems by staff or outsiders is a crucial component of IT security. The data centre should, in fact, only be accessible to a limited number of personnel in order to minimise the risk of accidental harm and to avoid intentional manipulation or data leaks. It is crucial to keep data centres safe, but it is not always simple for corporations to do so. The number of devices that can access the data centre and its location are frequently determining factors. Access restrictions can enhance security in and around data centres, but businesses must also understand which level of access permissions are required.

Business continuity planning stipulates that the organisation’s IT and operational procedures must continue to operate in any emergency situations. The data centre should be capable of protecting your systems and data round the clock in this regard. Your carefully thought-out plans will have been in vain if the data centre fails simultaneously with potentially unfortunate happenings. It doesn’t matter if you want to establish your own data centre or hire a third-party supplier to handle it; data centre security standards are ultimately crucial. On that note, let’s talk about why access control is crucial in data centres to minimise risk and vulnerability.

Data Centre – Explained!

The physical facility where organisations store their essential software and data is called a data centre. A data centre’s architecture is based on a network of computing and storage resources that enables the delivery of shared applications and data. Any business that relies on a data centre for all or a portion of its activities should put in place a number of physical and network security measures to protect the data centre’s data against theft, loss, and unauthorised data alterations. Today, almost no business can operate without using some sort of technology. The majority of businesses have switched from paper to digital, and the majority of their data is now kept on computers rather than filing cabinets. As a result, every company requires a system to guarantee the security and safety of the data in its data centres.

Data Centre Security

As already said, a data centre is a location where data is kept, usually on servers. It may be situated nearby, at a different location, or be run by a different vendor. However, security procedures need to be in place to avoid breaches regardless of where the data centre is situated. Data centres are frequently the target of hackers since they house all of the company’s essential information. Controls that restrict access to the data centre are employed to prevent cybersecurity breaches. These rules restrict access to all devices as well as the actual location of the data centre.

Best practices for data centre security cover everything a company does to control access to everything from physical assets to the controls that oversee them. However, a risk assessment should be carried out before a corporation begins limiting access to data centres and putting in place the necessary safeguards. A risk assessment is a useful tool that aids companies in adhering to cybersecurity laws. Additionally, it will assist businesses in identifying current and potential risks to the data centre. Risks that frequently target data centres include,

  • Attacks involving Denial of Service (DoS)
  • A breach of protected or confidential information
  • Identity fraud
  • Data theft or manipulation
  • Unauthorised use of network resources and access

A risk assessment will find holes that hackers might exploit in addition to threats. The following are some frequently occurring data centre security flaws:

  • Unauthorised Accesses
  • Poorly implemented software and/or security procedures
  • Inaccurate data system configuration
  • Unsecure cybersecurity architecture 
  • Insufficient physical or environmental access controls
  • Critical systems’ lack of redundancy

It will be simpler to determine which controls and restrictions are required if you are aware of these shortcomings. To reduce cybersecurity threats, companies can use a range of access control procedures, which brings us to our next topic of discussion: Access Control System.

Access Control System

In any business, an access control system controls employee admission and exit, visitor management, as well as ensures the security of resources that they can see or use. An access control system makes sure that a person’s identity matches the records and that they have the right access to the organisation’s data by using authorization and identification. In general, access control systems give companies protection and control by granting them access to particular parts of the facility at specific times and dates.

Elements of Access Control System

One of the best essential security mechanisms, such as physical security, information security, data security, etc., comprises the access control system. Entry control is used in a variety of settings, from closely guarded government buildings to controlling access at private residences. Consequently, it’s important to comprehend the foundational ideas of security. The following are the three essential components of access control systems:

Identification: Access control plays a crucial function in the accurate identification of a person in order to guarantee the security of any form. Image capture, thumbprinting, video surveillance, facial detection, identity cards, and other methods of identification are all possible. To grant access to a user, the access control system compares data entered with data kept in memory.

Authentication: It’s crucial to confirm the data gathered before granting someone access. The person who accesses the information must be authorised to do so. A login and password that are linked together must be verified, as must matching fingerprints, face details, smartcards, etc.

Authorization: Authorization occurs when the access control system compares the entered information to the stored information. If the data does not match, quick action is done with the aid of an alarm system or by sending a notification to the security unit. The authority is given to an individual to access the facility or any information.

Furthermore, the physical keys’ restrictions can be removed by an access control system, giving an organisation more control. Additionally, an electronic access system will enable you to authorise certain people to enter particular regions of your institution. It mostly aids in managing the following significant security aspects:

  • Who has the appropriate access? The access control system can control the building’s or information’s access. For instance, you might want some private documents in a room to be accessible exclusively to senior managers.
  • What ports are they able to access? For some individuals, there can be some limitations on where they can go. As a result, the access control system only enables certain people to enter particular doors or rooms. For instance, you may want only specific lab staff to have access to chemicals stored in a cabinet.
  • What hours are they permitted access? Some locations’ accessibility can be adjusted based on the time. The access control system can assist in controlling when individual employees are granted entry to a particular location. You might, for instance, only permit young staff access during their scheduled shifts, while senior employees are free to enter the building whenever they like.
  • How and when are they permitted access? Access to a certain region may be restricted based on predetermined criteria. For instance, a visiting technician is only permitted if they can produce their credentials.

Best Practices For Implementing Access Controls in Data Centres

Prior to adopting access controls, businesses must take the data centre tier into account; there are totally four tiers of ranking. Based on how much information a corporation handles, it is categorised in this way. Businesses in Tier 1 and 2 data centres are generally smaller and less complex whereas Tiers 3 and 4 are bigger and more complicated. Their infrastructure is more redundant than that of smaller businesses. This indicates that more advanced cybersecurity measures are needed for managing and safeguarding the data of higher-tier enterprises. There are basic access restrictions that are applicable to all enterprises regardless of their size, even though the level of cybersecurity required will vary based on the size of the data centre.

Multiple Levels of Cybersecurity

It is crucial that each component of data centre security communicates well with others and with other components. This will offer a layered security system that is more challenging for hackers to penetrate. Layered security implies that before hackers can access any data, they must get past a number of barriers. Even if one layer fails to deter a hacker, there are still likely to be others that can stop the possible breach.

Access and Permission Lists 

Everybody who is permitted to handle data should be automatically added to an access list. This holds true for all companies, including those that utilise external data centres. Not everyone at a third-party location needs access to the data in order to do their work. Every company should adhere to the “zero trust” cybersecurity ethics. Its name is exactly what it means: “zero trust.” Anything involving Non-Public Protected Information (NPPI) needs to be treated with suspicion. This covers all data transfers and operations. The access lists ought to be updated often. Employee turnover is common—companies can avoid breaches and errors caused by staff members who aren’t allowed to handle NPPI by maintaining these lists.

Video Surveillance

The importance of video monitoring is being recognised by more businesses. The ability to continuously monitor the data centre will help to both identify and stop certain illegal access. All exterior and internal access points should be guarded by closed-circuit television cameras (CCTVs). The cameras ought to have zoom, tilt, and pan capabilities. The video should be digitally saved and backed up.

Secure Access Points 

Implementing strong access controls is crucial in maintaining the security of data centres. One of the best practices for achieving this goal is the use of secure access points. Secure access points refer to the physical and logical entry points into the data centre where access control measures are put in place to ensure that only authorised personnel are granted entry. This could involve the use of biometric authentication systems, smart cards, key fobs, or a combination of these technologies. By controlling who has access to the data centre, organisations can reduce the risk of data breaches and unauthorised access to sensitive information. In addition, by logging and auditing access attempts, organisations can detect and respond to any suspicious activities.

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Nowadays, businesses are growing increasingly aware of the possibility that their data centres could turn into simple targets for hackers. Security breaches can be avoided by using access controls, especially at higher network levels where NPPI is frequently monitored. The type of access controls a firm needs will depend on its size and a number of other considerations. Access control systems are a crucial component of any company's or organisation's overall data centre security structure. They offer reliable access control as well as defence against insecurity, theft, threats, and destruction. The main advantage of an access control system can be especially reaped by a company or organisation that has high foot traffic. For the security, safety, and welfare of those who work or visit a facility, it is absolutely vital that admission to the building may be controlled at any time. On that note, Know Your Building™ offers an RFID and/or mobile app-based access control system that provides a convenient and secure way to control access to a restricted area, making it a popular choice for businesses and organisations looking to secure their premises. Contact Know Your Building™ to schedule a consultation with the security experts and learn more about implementing access control in your premises.

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