(Click here to view article in digital issue)In terms of physical security, data centres within corporate buildings typically feature multiple access control solutions designed to keep most employees out. Private data centres often resemble military installations, with security guards and extensive surveillance in addition to access control at multiple points of passage.The access control methods used to secure these facilities usually include a mixture of unrelated devices, from palm readers to proximity card readers to mechanical keyed or combination locks. Palm readers, which are too large for server cabinet applications, are commonly found only on doors; server cabinets are most often accessed with keys or key cards.The use of mixed access control devices that are meant to protect actually creates significant security issues and challenges:• Complexity of security administration. The use of proximity readers and keyed or combination locks requires careful management of key cards, keys, and combinations. Tracking which users have which access enablers, and reassigning/retrieving them when access needs or personnel change, is a sizable task in large facilities.• Increased opportunities for breaches. The existence of multiple keys and key cards makes a facility less secure by increasing the number of access enablers that can become separated from their intended carriers, representing an opportunity for access by unauthorised personnel. • Lack of reliable audit trails. The use of mixed access control devices can make it very difficult, if not impossible, to identify the culprit when a breach occurs, as there is no comprehensive audit trail covering all access points. While palm readers can produce audit trails for doors, the use of keys or combination locks on cabinets and elsewhere means some access points have no audit trail at all.This article describes a cost-effective platform and methodology that can greatly simplify security administration, eliminate opportunities for physical security breaches, and provide an indisputable audit trail of access throughout an entire facility, or even multiple facilities, to physically secure business assets and ensure regulatory compliance. The solution involves uniform, networked biometric access control at every critical access point within a data centre, from front door to interior doors to server cabinets.Why take uniform security all the way to the server cabinet?Data centre operators have long understood the need for physical access control on server cabinets. In corporate facilities, where data centres are potentially exposed to a significant number of employees, mission-critical servers must be protected from thumb drive data theft and from theft of a server itself. Those same considerations apply to colocation facilities, which must also reassure customers that their servers are individually secure within a generally secured facility.Yet these server cabinets are rarely protected with the same level of security as facility doors. The most common method of physical access control at the server is to enclose it with a cage or cabinet featuring a mechanical keyed lock. Less common are enclosures that feature proximity readers. Both create significant risks.Keys and key cards can be forgotten, lost, or stolen, and any key or key card separated from an authorised user represents a potential, undetected security breach. The only thing that’s known for sure in cabinet access is that an authorised person’s key or key card, but not necessarily the authorised person, opened the cabinet.While proximity readers offer an advantage over mechanical keyed locks in that they can produce audit trails, those audit trails are not indisputable. Again, they show only which card opened the lock – but not whose hand held it.U.S. Air Force drove need for better access control at server cabinetIn 2010, the U.S. Air Force, which has long used Digitus Biometrics’ db Nexus access control units to secure the doors of multiple key facilities and their communications closets, asked Digitus to extend its biometric approach to server cabinets in multiple installations.The key features of db Nexus units that were to be retained in the server solution included:• Two-part architecture, with the scanner outside the door connected only to the lock control inside the door, eliminating the possibility of clipping external wires and electrically spoofing the lock.• Network interface, which enables remote control from a centralized location.• Real-time monitoring and alerts to computers and phones in the event of an attempted breach.• 100% accurate audit (log) reports showing exactly who gains access through each unit, and when.The server cabinet solution Digitus created, db ServerRack, appears to the Digitus Access Software that controls the system as simply another biometric access point on the network. db ServerRack is the functional equivalent of db Nexus; the difference is that rather than mounting on a door, db ServerRack mounts on the server cabinet.Advantages specific to data centresIn addition to providing extremely accurate identification for access control, db ServerRack offers several key advantages relative to the rack itself and, when paired with db Nexus, to the task of securing the entire data centre:• Simplified security administration. With biometric access control, administration is greatly simplified compared to the mixed-solution environment found in most data centres. There are no keys or key cards to assign, track, retrieve, and reassign. Removing all access privileges is a matter of a few keystrokes within the Digitus Access Software, as is reassigning access to specific areas facility wide, or even among multiple geographies.• Reduced opportunities for breaches. As biometrics eliminates the user of access enablers that can become separated from their authorised users, there are far fewer opportunities for security breaches. The authorised user absolutely must be present for access to be granted at any biometrically controlled checkpoint.• Indisputable audit trail. Especially of interest in demonstrating compliance with government regulations concerning data storage, biometric access control produces an indisputable audit trail. db ServerRack extends that indisputable audit trail to the server cabinet. When paired with db Nexus, that audit trail can cover the entire enterprise, recording and reporting each instance of each individual’s access from door to door to cabinet, and the exact time of each access – indisputably.Secure your entire data centre with a single, unified access-control platformCertainly, there are many ways of securing data centres, and many solutions have evolved over time to address access control at doors and server cabinets. The problem is that those solutions evolved separately to address individual access points, rather than addressing the overall needs of the data centre. In contrast, db ServerRack and db Nexus were designed with an eye toward overall facility needs, and today are unique in their ability to serve as a single, networked platform to completely secure every access point throughout a data centre – from the front door to the server cabinets.
Print this page | E-mail this page
Download a copy of our digital magazine