Friday, 25 September 2015

Mitigating hostile vehicle attack at data centres

Data Centres are critical in today’s society with almost every aspect of our activities being in some way reliant upon the internet and transfer and storage of electronic data.  Governments, Utilities, Banks, businesses & the general public rely on Data Centres for their Information and Communications Technology (ICT). 

Cyber defence & security is increasingly taking a higher priority to traditional forms of military defence.  A data breach or disruption can cripple or damage an organisation within minutes, cyber security budgets are continuing to be increased to keep up with the changing and often unknown threat.

However, the physical structures of the data centre can also be considered a major target and cannot be overlooked.  Data Centres exist in a variety of locations which represent specific challenges in terms of their physical protection.  A physical attack on a building’s infrastructure could have similar devastating effects to that of a cyber-attack; physical security is therefore a vital component of the overall security strategy that security managers need to consider.  Clients that process or store data need to have the assurance that the sites are not vulnerable and that their data is safe.

The starting point with the protection of any site involves a practical site assessment which would consider the security needs along with the business needs and any potential engineering constraints.  Once this information is gathered and a clear picture has been established, manufactures work with the designers and end-users to develop a solution which provided not only the correct level of physical protection but also ensures that the control methodology meets the required levels.

Many aspects should be considered when physically protecting a site such as a data centre, these would include: -

·       ·     A clear understanding of the area being protected and the specific and vulnerable areas within that site

·        How the enforceable perimeter might affect the surrounding buildings in terms of collateral damage in the event of an attack and also the location of exiting services which may be affected

·        Vehicle access points and emergency access points

·        Types of vehicle, frequency of use and their potential speed of approach (Vehicle Dynamic Assessment)

·        Vetting and identification of drivers

·        Operating procedures for the control measures – any system is only as good as its operator

If the location is remote or has a large perimeter it often provides the opportunity to incorporate landscaping to mitigate the ability for a vehicle to gain entry and/or reduce the potential speed of approach for a vehicle.  Measures such as landscaping can alleviate the need to employ large scale and heavy duty HVM measures whilst providing critical vehicle ‘stand-off’ from the building/asset.

A perimeter of a site can be additionally protected with a high security fencing incorporating intruder detection and CCTV.  Limiting vehicle access to the site is essential and therefore serious consideration should be given to the number of access points provided.  These considerations should also take into consideration the needs of emergency vehicle and vehicle reject lanes.  Any access point needs to be protected and controlled effectively by using products that meet both the physical/operational requirements along with the aesthetical and engineering constraints that the site might pose.

Where a building is in a city centre or urban area and space around the building is at a minimum, other measures can help protect and increase vehicle ‘stand-off’ these might including: planters, street furniture or static bollards.

Equipment used to control access to data centres, whilst still offering a high level of protection against hostile attack using a vehicle includes: -

·        ·        Road blocker systems with a variety of options (deep/shallow and surface)

·        Automatic and static bollards

·        Sliding and hinged gates

·        Rising arm barriers 

·        Manual gates and barriers

·        Plus – a large range of non-rated products to complement and enhance site control

Guest blog written by Neale Ward, Sales Manager, Avon Barrier

Telephone: +44 (0) 117 953 5252  

Thursday, 24 September 2015

Businesses Told to Invest More to Stay Safe Online

As the threat of cyber-attacks continues to increase unabated, the government has been telling British businesses that it is in their own and, by extension, the British public’s, best interests to increase spending on online security.  This comes on the back of a recent survey that discovered an astonishing ninety per cent of big business and seventy-four per cent of small businesses have suffered some form of security breach within the last twelve months.

Making the UK the Safest Country in the World to do Online Business

Ed Vaizey, who is the current Minister for the Digital Economy, has backed the call for businesses countywide to sign up for a government scheme known as Cyber Essentials, which is part of the National Cyber Security Programme. The primary aim of this programme is to educate and, hence, help protect business from cyber threats.

“Good cyber-security underpins the entire digital economy – we need it to keep our businesses, citizens and public services safe,” Vaizey said. He also went on to say that, while the UK is a world leader when it comes to digital technologies and our use of these technologies, we must strive to become a global leader in cyber security, as well.

He concluded, “Trust and confidence in UK online security are crucial for consumers, businesses, and investors. We want to make the UK the safest place in the world to do business online and Cyber Essentials is a great and simple way firms can protect themselves.”

At the time of this writing, over a thousand businesses from across the UK have signed up for the Cyber Essentials scheme. These businesses currently have access to advice and information on the current state of protection from cyber security threats. The government scheme is also looking to promote awareness via a whole range of advertising campaigns.

Helping to Protect the Future with Funding

Business is not the only entity benefitting from current government initiatives when it comes to tackling cyber security threats. Vaizey also recently announced a fund - to the tune of half a million pounds – which is earmarked for universities and colleges in an effort to help raise the awareness of cyber threats through innovative teaching methods.

All third-level education institutions can apply for a grant of up to £80,000 however there are caveats. The institutions will need to match the funding provided and must produce ‘real-world impact across the discipline’.

The goal of the fund is to make sure that all students of higher-level education are afforded the chance to receive the type of high quality and advanced instruction that will ultimately give them the technical skills required to eventually help protect British business and government entities from cyber threats and cyber-attacks.

In the end, it is our hope that both the Cyber Essentials scheme and the third level education grant are ultimately successful in what they are trying to achieve. As we in the data centre industry are all too aware, cyber threats are very real and can cause untold damage if not kept in check.

Thursday, 3 September 2015

Building New Data Centres: Russian Construction Heating Up

Russia is by no means a dominant force in the worldwide data centre industry. Its entire market share, globally speaking, is less than 0.5%. However, things are changing in that part of the world. Russian construction of new data centres has been picking up over the last five years. Furthermore, the commercial sector has been growing at about 25% since 2010.

Russia's IT industry is readily embracing cloud and colocation services as a primary revenue driver for the future. At the end of last year, the commercial market was estimated at some £109 million, representing a 20% increase over the year before. Experts believe that growth will continue for the next 3 to 5 years at minimum, and perhaps longer. They expect the business to government market to do very well also.

2 Factors Driving Construction

Until just a few years ago, Russian businesses and consumers were content to utilise international data centres for their data hosting needs however that seems to no longer be the case. According to some research conducted in Russia, there are two primary factors driving new data centre construction:

  • Natural Environment – As a whole, the natural environment in Russia is rather cool. The region is not known for blistering hot temperatures and extremely high humidity over long periods. Therefore, the power and cooling needs of the typical data centre are lower in Russia than they are in other parts of Europe and Asia. Russian companies are finding it more profitable to build domestically rather than going internationally. Companies outside of Russia are also finding the environment attractive.
  • Data Security Laws – Russia's laws regarding data security have been updated, including a recent regulation that requires all personal data belonging to Russian citizens be stored on servers located in domestic data centres. Like Canada and a number of countries in Europe, requiring data to be stored domestically allows security experts to better protect it. The new law has led to an instant increase in demand for data centre services.
We should note that Russian companies are more willing to embrace cloud computing now that they know it works in other parts of the world. This is yet another factor driving data centre construction.

Data Centres Equals Jobs

Russian officials are understandably excited about the fact that data centre construction is picking up in their country. Not only does new construction increase Russia's market share, but it also contributes to the recovery of Russia's struggling economy. Where there are new data centres, there are also new data centre jobs to be filled. Russia is very optimistic about the emerging IT sector it hopes will be able to compete on a global scale within the next 5 to 10 years.

All eyes will be on the Russian IT industry to see how it does from both a competitive and environmental standpoint. If the country can compete economically without sacrificing environmental responsibility, it should do very well.