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  




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