Data Center Security Strategies

Information security has always been a baffling area for security experts as they attempt to protect the infrastructure and systems from hackers and accidental users. In the increasing threat landscape it becomes vital to protect information assets but information security is unable to cope with the speed of business and IT deployments. In such scenarios traditional security measures are no longer effective while trying to address threats aimed at the insides of dynamic computing environments such as data centers.

The increasing demands of outsourced IT services such as virtualization, cloud models, storage, etc., availed from data centers is fuelling the need for comprehensive security strategies to protect critical data and systems. IT experts raise concerns that information security is unable to cope with the speed of business and IT deployments. Traditional security approaches focus on anti-virus software, firewalls, ports, subnets and network parameters and focus on preventing rogue packets at the periphery of the network. If case of a breach, the attacker has complete access to all systems and data in the network. Further perimeter defense fails to prevent internal threats.

The changing threat landscape with new types of malware, Trojans and worms is driving the need for more robust strategies to protect data and information assets in data centers. SANS Institute in October 2015 did an analyst survey named SANS Dynamic Data Center Survey involving 430 IT security professionals. The survey findings indicate that 37% of respondents have experienced attacks on workloads in their data center or cloud environment. On the whole, 44% of respondents have lost critical data and 55% respondents are unhappy with existing attack prevention and recovery times. These data suggest that security strategies should be aimed at protecting all the components in an enterprise IT environment to effectively manage and minimize weaknesses and vulnerabilities that expose organizations to risk.

There is a need for in-depth defense for the network, servers and end-points and applications along with additional layers of security operations for infrastructure protection. Such robust and comprehensive attack prevention schemes can ensure IT security to protect data assets and systems in dynamic computing environments. Some of the security strategies to consider in an ever increasing demand for IT services are given below.

  • Strategy for Data Center Deployments: Data centers due to their less complexity, flexibility and scalability offer on demand services to meet business needs. The recent increased demand for hybrid data center deployments proves that IT plays the strategic role of business enabler in India (Express Computer, March 2015). In such scenarios, the security strategies that offer trust boundaries must be replaced with trust zones, across physical, logical, virtual and cloud environments. The best approach would be to eliminate inconsistent policies in the data center and provide a single focal point for managing security policies across all physical and virtual instances. At the tactical level, the security policies must be applied to be aware of the context, identity and applications. All data at rest and in motion must be secured between the data center and the enterprise organization.
  • Security is ramped up at the Architectural level: In this strategy, datacenters in order to have highest availability and integrity must implement security controls as part of data center architecture. The security control must be optimized for each component or module – servers, network, storage and data and so on. Security is a continuous process and therefore, enterprise wide risk assessment with real-time visibility is very crucial in prioritizing enterprise security and protection. Real time protection is the key to identify assets that are risky and critical across all components in the data center. Workloads must be secure to detect system level changes across remote locations to assure data migration between workloads is safe. It is important to secure virtual desktop infrastructure along with VM traffic and also the server resource utilization.
  • Security is ubiquitous: Security policies must be ubiquitously managed to ensure efficient risk and compliance management. Datacenter operations will be efficient only when workloads, servers, storage, networks and applications are secure in physical, virtual and cloud infrastructures. Security deployments must comply with standards such as HIPAA, PCI, etc., and must provide real-time insight across data, applications, servers, networks and endpoints. Security strategies must be able to deliver end-to-end assurance, from the perimeter to the core of the data center.

While developing and implementing comprehensive security measures, in-depth security implementations in data centers are the key to optimize business critical services and availability. Corresponding SLAs must be ensured for maximizing resiliency and minimizing downtime. As data centers are becoming dynamic to provide hybrid services that are ubiquitous, risk and compliance requirements are highly important.