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The creation, analysis and organization of high-quality data is crucial to the success of modern businesses. As many as 97% use collected data to power business opportunities, with 76% utilizing organizational data to form business strategies.

With vast quantities of data being collected by businesses on a daily basis, leaders must find ways to safely store vital information for later analysis. Key datasets must be well-protected from common cyber threats while remaining easily accessible to professionals when needed.

To achieve both of these goals, organizations typically store collected information in secure data centers, with considered technologies and protocols in place to reduce the risk of data breaches. This article acts as the ultimate guide to data center security solutions, helping professionals develop and oversee the operation of effective data center security systems.

What is data center security?

Data center security describes the technologies and operational policies businesses employ to protect all assets stored in commercial data centers. Security for data centers will include physical technologies like CCTV and access control systems deployed to protect assets from unauthorized access, and cybersecurity tools to defend against digital attacks.

Security in data centers must be designed to protect all aspects of the installation from both internal and external threats. This includes protocols and policies to secure networks, power systems, servers, physical security systems and stored data itself from unauthorized access.

Data center security teams must be trained to identify potential vulnerabilities and implement reliable solutions to limit access to valuable resources. This includes monitoring access logs, configuring automated responses and overseeing overarching policies to limit asset access.

Why is data center security important?

Stringent data center security solutions are critical to all commercial environments for a number of important reasons:

  • Protection of valuable assets: Data and intellectual property are valuable assets, making them a target for malicious actors and hackers.

  • Disaster recovery: If an unforeseen event leads to important company data being lost or destroyed, data centers ensure teams have up-to-date backups.

  • Business continuity: Storing and organizing business-critical information in secure data centers ensures reliable access to all data required for day-to-day operations.

  • Regulatory compliance: Data privacy regulations like HIPAA, GDPR and the CCPA govern how organizations are permitted to handle sensitive data, solid data center security architecture ensures requirements are met and client data remains secure.

Secure data centers effectively act as a safety net for businesses that rely on collected data to perform essential functions. By understanding unique security requirements, and following data center security best practices, organizations can protect valuable assets from exposure.

Is your data center secure?

Use our free guide to physical security and learn best practices for securing your data center. You’ll receive:

  • Explore top physical security threats 

  • Discover the best physical security tactics 

  • Learn how to uncover risks at your site 

  • Unlock physical security best practices 

Key components of data center security

Data centers face many types of threats, including internal and external physical breaches, as well as cyber attacks that could lead to instances of fraud or identity theft. To counter such threats, security systems must meet the following data center security requirements as outlined by the Open Compute Project:

  • Deter: Discourage attacks from initially occurring.

  • Detect: Identify potential threats in real-time. 

  • Delay: Create barriers between attack vectors and assets. 

  • Respond: Enable security staff to address threats promptly.

Data center security solutions must incorporate multiple levels of security to provide appropriate protection. This includes bespoke physical, cyber and network security services designed to be integrated together to form unified installations.

Below are the key elements of a holistic solution for data center security. 

Physical security

  • Lighting and cameras: Perimeter lighting, visible data center security cameras, physical barriers and in-person patrols are positioned to deter criminals from attempting to access high-risk locations.

  • Access control: Data center access control systems featuring multiple traceable credential types to both deter unauthorized access and help security staff investigate suspicious activity.

  • Sensors and alarms: Intrusion sensors and real-time alarms to warn security teams of unfolding incidents. 

  • Security cameras: IP CCTV cameras capture footage of suspicious activity and aid data center security teams in monitoring high-risk locations remotely.

  • Data analytics: Software to help staff analyze past incidents and identify vulnerabilities that need to be addressed.

Cyber security

  • Password policies: Strong password policies requiring users to authenticate themselves frequently to limit the risk of unauthorized access to key systems.

  • Multi-factor authentication: Requiring two or more credentials to be presented before access to high-risk systems is granted.

  • Anti-virus software: Frequently updated anti-virus and anti-ransomware tools to reduce risks associated with novel cyber threats.

Network security

  • Firewalls: Tools deployed to monitor network traffic traveling in and out of the data center.

  • Encryption: This ensures data in transit remains unreadable to unverified sources. 

  • Virtual private networks (VPN): To further encrypt and mask data from cybercriminals. 

Strategies for data center protection

To ensure the above data center security software and hardware components are effectively deployed to prevent security breaches, systems must be configured in line with wider security strategies. Below are three data center security strategies to consider.

1. Enhance visibility through continuous monitoring

To maintain the highest level of situational awareness and effectively respond to suspicious activity, security teams need full visibility of all events that could impact data center security.

Continuous observation is an essential part of effective deter, detect and response strategies. To help security teams achieve this, the following operational factors should be monitored:

  • Data access: All access events should be recorded and monitored, authorized users must be issued unique credentials containing permissions associated with their roles. For example, only IT admins and leaders can access digital file storage systems.

  • Physical access: Access control systems should be used to limit physical access to high-risk locations based on the user’s role in the organization, data center CCTV systems should also be used to verify the identity of users making access requests.

  • Device access: Digital systems can only be accessed from vetted devices that have been reviewed and fitted with up-to-date cybersecurity software. Unsecured personal devices can be easily hacked, so they must never be used to access sensitive data.

  • Network access: Network activity must be continually monitored, and any changes to network attachments must be immediately investigated. If a new device is to be connected to the data center’s network, it must first be reviewed and analyzed by security staff.

2. Limit potential damage through segmentation 

Segmentation is an important aspect of data center security management and a key element of delay strategies. Segmentation uses firewalls and other software solutions to prevent attacks from moving through the entire data center. Traffic is checked at multiple points to support granular access to key data center resources and limit the spread of cyber attacks. 

When key systems are segmented, an attack on one area can be contained and addressed without fear of the entire data center being breached. Each system and data storage solution must be secured behind different levels of clearance and access credentials, meaning even if one credential is compromised, attackers will be prevented from accessing wider systems.

Segmentation provides significant advantages, such as ensuring granular access to sensitive systems, helping teams observe network traffic and simplifying the auditing process. 

3. Strengthen security using advanced technologies

Smart security technologies designed to provide real-time threat detection and response capabilities will help improve data center security measures. Consider the following:

  • Two-factor authentication: Layered security to deter unauthorized access attempts.

  • Biometric access controls: Biometric entry system credentials like facial recognition, fingerprint or retina scans are far harder to fabricate than most token-based credentials.

  • Remote security management: Cloud data center security management systems enable staff to monitor active systems remotely from secure smart devices, allowing teams to review potential incidents and enact appropriate responses 24/7.

  • Automated surveillance tools: Data center CCTV cameras, access readers and alarms can be configured to trigger wider systems in response to potential threats.

  • AI-powered analytics software: AI analytics software can be deployed to monitor live security feeds in search of stimuli associated with security threats, for example, AI video analytics tools can instantly warn staff of suspicious activity in secure areas.

Best practices for ensuring data center security

1. Zero-trust

Minimize risk by adopting zero-trust policies. Users must continually verify themselves when accessing any business-owned systems, with credentials required for access to be granted. Permissions for each user must be based solely on their requirements, with employees only granted access to the systems and locations required for them to perform expected duties. 

2. Maintenance and testing 

Regular maintenance and testing are essential to ensure that data center security solutions continue to maximize protection. That means implementing hardware and software updates with stringent patching schedules. Security personnel should conduct frequent penetration testing and auditing physical security performance metrics to maintain data center security standards. 

3. Integrated solutions 

While many different data center security services are available, it’s important that they are implemented as end-to-end, integrated solutions. Integrating security systems, such as access control, sensors, CCTV, and cyber security tools enhances data center protection, limiting exploitable security gaps.

4. Training and awareness

Frequent training and awareness programs must be made available to ensure all staff can identify and respond to common threats. Teams must be trained to maintain security systems, spot suspicious activity, avoid social engineering tactics and report potential risks.

Future developments in data center security

As threats evolve and criminals develop increasingly sophisticated attacks, data center security must keep pace. Artificial intelligence will play a critical role by improving the analysis of real-time and historical threat data, helping security professionals take a proactive approach to prevention and response techniques.

New threats are already emerging, so it’s essential that businesses take measures to enhance their data center security and take advantage of AI-driven developments. By automating threat responses with support from AI-powered tools, teams can make more efficient use of limited resources and ensure all potential threats are identified promptly.


Data is one of the most important resources for modern organizations, meaning efforts to protect it from common threats must be prioritized. Storing and organizing data in secure data centers ensures information is protected from unauthorized access, and available to professionals when required, but unique data center security measures must be developed.

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