Networking, in particular the internet, has opened up vast opportunities for businesses, organizations, and consumers. Unfortunately, it has also opened up vast opportunities for cybercriminals. This means that it is vital for data centers to implement effective network security. With that in mind, here is a quick guide to what you need to know.
Modern data centers don’t just hold data, they hold big data. In other words, they hold vast quantities of data. What’s more, some of that data may be highly sensitive and/or business-critical. This makes data centers highly desirable targets for many cybercriminals.
Additionally, the fact that data centers are often vital to the effective operation of businesses and organizations can itself make data centers a target for certain types of cybercriminals.
This means that running a data center is essentially a balancing act between accessibility and protection. On the one hand, users expect fast access to everything they need. This is likely to be a combination of raw data and data that has been processed in some way. They may understand that security protocols are necessary but they will not appreciate them getting in the way of what they see as proper work.
On the other hand, data center managers have a duty to protect the data in their care. That duty is likely to be legal as well as ethical. Furthermore, they must ensure that data is protected in all circumstances, even when disasters are in progress.
At a high level, the potential risks in data center network security are much the same as they have always been. There are environmental threats and human threats. The latter can be divided into external threats and internal threats.
At a micro level, the potential risks in data center network security are, however, continually evolving. For example, DoS attacks became DDoS attacks. DDoS attacks then transformed from attacks run directly by humans to botnets launching automated attacks that leveraged known vulnerabilities in server protocols.
Furthermore, the development of cryptocurrency has significantly benefited cybercriminals. It means that they can demand payment directly from victims knowing that the payment is difficult, if not impossible, to trace. This directly enables certain types of cybercrime such as ransomware attacks.
Here are the 10 key preventative measures for data center network security that all data center managers need to implement.
Implement robust physical security: Always remember that networks can be compromised from the inside as well as from the outside. This compromise might be accidental rather than malicious but it is still a compromise.
Firewalls and intrusion detection systems (IDS): Firewalls filter incoming and outgoing traffic, allowing only authorized data to pass through. IDS monitors network traffic for suspicious activities and potential threats, triggering alerts or taking preventive actions when anomalies are detected.
Encryption and secure protocols: Employing encryption ensures that even if unauthorized access occurs, the intercepted data remains unreadable and unusable. Secure communication protocols like HTTPS and SSH protect data during transmission, while encryption mechanisms like AES safeguard data stored within the data center.
Access controls and authentication: Multi-factor authentication (MFA) adds an extra layer of security by requiring users to provide multiple forms of verification. Role-based access control (RBAC) ensures that users have the minimum necessary privileges to perform their tasks, reducing the risk of insider threats.
Patch management: Regularly applying security patches and updates helps close potential entry points for cyberattacks.
Network segmentation: Dividing the network into segments or zones with different security levels restricts lateral movement for attackers. This limits the potential damage if a breach occurs in one segment.
Security audits and penetration testing: Conducting security audits and penetration testing is essential to proactively identify weaknesses in the network. These assessments help organizations uncover vulnerabilities and address them before malicious actors can exploit them.
Incident response plan: Establishing an incident response plan helps organizations respond promptly and effectively when a breach occurs, minimizing potential damage.
Third-party security services: Consider leveraging third-party security services and solutions that specialize in data center network security. These services often provide advanced threat detection, monitoring, and mitigation capabilities.
Regular auditing and compliance checks: Regular assessments ensure that data center network security remains aligned with evolving security requirements and guidelines.
Human error is a common factor in security breaches. Comprehensive training programs and awareness campaigns can educate employees about best security practices, such as recognizing phishing attempts and avoiding risky online behavior.
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