Physical security in IT and data centre technology

With the world’s reliance on digital technologies growing exponentially, the need for heightened security around IT and data centre infrastructure has probably never been greater. Recent cyber attacks have exposed the vulnerability of networks to groups or individuals with malicious intention. But it isn’t just the networks which are at risk; there is an equal threat to the data centre itself from physical hazards, which also needs to be appreciated.

Rittal’s latest whitepaper on IT security, Physical security in IT and data centre technology, tackles the issues of physical hazards head on. It identifies fire, water, dust and fumes, falling debris, EM radiation and unauthorised access as prime risks and explores what can be put in place to prevent damage when such issues arise.

The paper guides data centre planners and operators through the complexities of securing their sites. It highlights the European Standards and Certification needed to demonstrate effectiveness under test conditions and compliance not just for individual components but also, very importantly, systems. By that, it means systems for climate control, power supply and distribution, network connectivity, access control, and the structural shell – either a conventionally built room or a modular ‘room-in-room’.

The whitepaper takes a considered look at various threats in turn and offers best practice advice. For example, it considers IP (International Protection) categories in relation to protection against dust, water and solid particles, as defined by EN 60529. Meanwhile a wall might need to have a specific fire resistance, for example, F90 or F120 according to DIN 4102 or EI 90 or EI 120 according to the EN 1363.

Physical threats also include deliberate human interference and clearly any space filled with expensive hardware and important data should be secure enough to prevent malevolent or vindictive individuals gaining access. The Resistance Class (RC) defined in DIN V ENV 1627ff states how well this can be done depending on the nature and level of force that is applied.

IT security rooms are another option which are also reviewed. These rooms, if planned and fitted out correctly, will help protect hardware and data from the negative impact of EM radiation, fires and water damage.

For example, Rittal’s high availability room offers the maximum physical security for data centres and IT system locations. The system is certified by the ECB according to the ECB S rules and fulfils the requirements of EN 1047-2 without restriction.

A more compact alternative to security rooms would be IT security safes, which are ideal for smaller data centres that only need to be connected to the appropriate supply lines on site.

Read and download the full whitepaper here.

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