Securing data - the importance of physical security for servers

London, UK

Assa Abloy’s Aperio KS100 Server Cabinet Lock adds real-time access control and monitoring to server racks and cabinets.

Securing sensitive data needs the involvement of every member in an organisation, from top to bottom. But, according to Assa Abloy, physically protecting servers and data stores is the heart of the security and IT manager’s role.

Businesses, large and small, create data which needs protecting, whether in an onsite server room or co-located at a data centre. Although we might imagine differently, only around a half of breaches involve hacking, according to one recent report from Verizon. Gaps in the physical security of data mean that your servers are equally important targets.

In the absence of appropriate physical server security, the mundane can be dangerous — and expensive. Recent research for IBM by the Ponemon Institute estimates the average total cost of a data breach at $3.86 million (€3.57 million). According to the same benchmark report, this average is rising, by 6.4% in the last year alone. Some of the highest breach costs are borne by companies in Europe, including Germany, France, Italy and the UK.

The most relevant framework for those operating in the EMEA region is the European Union’s General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR). This wide-ranging data privacy rulebook has been enforced since May 2018. 

Three levels

To ensure maximum security of your servers, in its recent white paper Assa Abloy recommends three levels of security working together within an integrated access system. At the top level, perimeter security ensures only authorised personnel enter a data storage building. Here, door and gate electronic locks with credential readers can work alongside the likes of CCTV and monitored fencing. It’s your first line of physical breach defence.

Level 2 — server room access — can be monitored and controlled with a range of access control door devices with inbuilt credential readers, including Aperio battery-powered escutcheons or complete security locks. Either device integrates seamlessly with access and security management systems from over 100 different manufacturers. At room level, physical security must also include water- and dustproofing, electromagnetic security and protection against other physical threats to servers and data.

The third, final level of physical data security is your server rack or cabinet. Server rooms have a steady flow of authorised traffic: cleaners, maintenance staff, repair technicians and others. Employee screening cannot be perfect — and accidents happen. Rack or cabinet locking with RFID readers is the last line of defence against a malicious or accidental physical data breach.

Responsive, real-time rack protection

Assa Abloy’s Aperio KS100 Server Cabinet Lock adds real-time access control and monitoring to server racks and cabinets. The lock works with an existing or new access control system; compatible credentials employ all standard RFID protocols. Under the EU’s GDPR, you must inform anyone affected by a breach “without undue delay”. With the Aperio KS100, you would know right away if unauthorised access had even been attempted.

Once installed, KS100 locks integrate with your access control system and communicate wirelessly via an Aperio Communications Hub, even if your racks are co-located in a distant data centre. Once online integration with your security admin system is complete, lock access decisions are communicated from and recorded by your software wirelessly.

“When Aperio replaces mechanical locking at all three levels of server access control, lost keys no longer compromise data security. Lost credentials are simply de-authorised and a valid replacement reissued. The current status of any lock, at any level, is revealed with the click of a mouse. Generating detailed audit trails is straightforward, making the KS100 and other Aperio wireless locks invaluable for incident investigation”, explains Johan Olsén, Aperio Product Manager at Assa Abloy Opening Solutions EMEA.


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