“If any organisation is not able to locate their own servers in a CoLo data center or cloud data center, how can they be sure, that it is secure? With servers geographically located across countries, there is no promise of servers being secured at these data centers” Sanjay Motwani, Regional Director, Raritan APAC, Raritan Asia Pacific.
In an interview with ETCIO.com, Sanjay Motwani discusses about how increasing number of the connected devices are making the data centers vulnerable to cyber attack. Further he talks about the Incidents of data center security breaches caused by internal employees. which is 20 to 25%.
Q. Describe the security gaps in a data center and how to bridge these gaps?
There are two aspects that are affecting the data centers with regards to security. The first is IoT and its contribution to the world in terms of economic growth which is dependent on connectivity. However, the growth through connectivity comes with its own price as more connectivity leads to vulnerability.
The challenge is that when we are looking at multiple devices which are connected to a network, each device that is being connected poses as a security threat.
The changing nature and volume of the connected device makes the job difficult for the security management team. Traditional data centers excluding the IoT network, are very secure on its own because it has firewalls, encryption and authentication and intrusion detection systems. Whereas most of these connected devices are communication devices that cannot support firewalls and intrusion detectors. Therefore, for the IoT network, only encryption and authentication can apply as security protocols.
A lot of the data centers are being outsourced to CoLos and cloud service providers. Second, large organisations offering these CoLo and cloud services are spread across different geographies and time zones. This is creating a challenge for these service providers to trace the server location in their data center.
Q. In this growing cybercrime scene, how do CIOs deploy robust security mechanism at the data center and ensure seamless monitoring?
CIO’s need to buy the necessary tools like firewalls, protocols, application and network monitoring tools and deploy them for both the actual and virtual networks to gain an upper hand on security watch. Everything from servers to applications, communications and networks (both actual and virtual) can be managed by these tools.
Currently the CIO’s are only focusing on secured access to actual networks and servers through secured network authentication verification and password authentication whereas they should also be focusing on 100 percent visibility of all networks including virtual servers, virtual networks and servers located at a third party data center.
Besides, , there is not much focus on IoT and the security protocols that should be followed while accessing the servers in a third party location or on the cloud and educating employees. Security needs to be looked from an end to end perspective as little carelessness from an employee could be a threat to the data center. Incidents of data center security breaches caused by internal employees come as close to 20 to 25 % in most cases, which is quite high.
Q. What solutions do you suggest that can help CIO’s better monitor their data center environments?
CIOs need to understand that by deploying three to four tools that takes care of the security issues is not the solution. With new technologies and softwares coming into play every three months, CIO’s need to constantly upgrade. Even mobile devices come with different operating systems and hence the tools to ensure security will have to evolve. Carrying out regular security audits at least once a quarter and learning to keep up with new technologies, new devices that are being connected can help them handle the situation. This should not be seen as a once in a year investment or activity but a constant effort by the CIO’s.
Q. Do you think that the incident response of the CIO’s could be an effective skill that can help tackle security breaches at the data center?
During such incidences, the CIO’s need to follow a very stringent and thought after plan of action about what needs to be done in different scenarios and the same needs to be put into place immediately. This skill is more required when the security breaches take place at a data center which is hosted in some other country/region that does not have high levels of skill sets available at the time of crisis. When these incidents occur, it is the skill set of the people that is available on site that will help the CIO’s manage the entire situation. The local people entering the data center should be well trained in following all the security protocols. Alternatively, the CIO’s governing the situation from a different location should have the necessary tools and systems to locate the servers and gain a complete and holistic view of site on their systems to manage the situation effectively.
Q. How do you see the cyber security trends evolving against data centers?
Cyber security is a rising trend. With more points of connectivity we are becoming more vulnerable. Therefore, due to connected devices and ever increasing data there are two kinds of trends that can be observed in the cyber security space. Firstly, hackers will always try to explicitly use their power to prove to the hacker community that they are good at it and with no other reason than that will continuously pose a threat to the organizations. Secondly, if we will leave our doors open, the hackers will see it as a temptation or an invite sent by us and will consciously do the harm.
Hence, the threat is real and constant and the world being connected through devices and data, security will always be a major concern to data centers.