Let’s Get Physical; part 2

Server Room Placement
An often-overlooked aspect of server room placement is the existence of an
outside wall. If someone really wants your data that badly, and you have made it
sufficiently difficult to get at it through the inside, another method of
getting at your server and valuable data is to come through the wall. Sound a
bit extreme? Well it is, but it does happen. Its less of a problem in downtown
districts, but in technology parks and warehouse type environments the veil of
darkness, lack of people, and modern construction methods make it possible to
push a hole in the side of a building using a heavy truck or construction
equipment, run in, grab the equipment and be off before someone has thought
about what the noise was. If you think this method is a little far fetched, ask
one of the organizations that’s fallen foul of this kind of attack, which is
known as a ‘ram raid’ for obvious reasons.

While unauthorized access may
be easy to manage by careful server room placement and adequate security
measures, authorized access brings with it’s own challenges, such as when
visiting contractors need access to the server room. In a utopian environment,
it would be nice to think that the server room contained nothing but computer
equipment, but the reality is there is likely to be telephone systems, wiring
closets, air-conditioners, fire detection systems and a host of other units,
many of which will require outside contractors to maintain. The ideal scenario
is that when visitors are in the server room they are escorted and monitored by
a member of the IT staff, but in many cases there simply isn’t the time or
manpower available to have someone standing in the server room chatting it up
with an air condition maintenance guy. One approach that provides a cheap and
relatively effective method of server room monitoring is the use of video
surveillance cameras. Beware, though, there are many restrictions governing the
use of closed circuit video cameras, and at the very least anyone entering the
server room should be made aware of their existence.

Another approach, which is a security dream and a server administrator’s worst nightmare, is a
server room with glass walls. The upside is that personnel working in the serve
room can be observed by anyone walking past. The downside is that the person
being observed could be you. It’s just the kind of extra pressure you need when
attempting a tricky repair on a mission critical server. Imagine looking up from
the server to see a selection of your workmates motioning encouragement, or
something else, from the other side of the glass!

Whether or not you have
the necessary measures and considerations taken care of, physical security must
always be high on the server and network administrators priority list. Physical
security is all about prevention rather than cure, and you know what they say
about that.

Drew Bird (MCT, MCNI) is a freelance instructor and technical writer. He has been working in the IT industry for 12 years and currently lives in Kelowna, BC., Canada..

Latest Articles

Follow Us On Social Media

Explore More