If network security protects data and the software, then physical security protects where the data is housed. Unfortunately, fewer people recognize the importance of keeping servers and computers (the actual machines) safe. Physical access is the easiest way a malicious user steals information, loads malware, or simply wipes data. Nearly all network security measures are rendered useless if someone can access the actual machine.
Even when organizations have a state-of-the-art security software infrastructure, physical security is often a second thought. It’s common to see servers housed in an unlocked office space, only blocked from public access by the on-site IT professional, who may not know that a malicious user isn’t an employee.
Few things are more disastrous than the physical loss of data. A server room with minimal security can be very easily breached. Once a malicious user has physical access to a machine, he or she will have little trouble breaking in. Simple programs uploaded from a USB thumb drive can instantly break through or guess passwords, giving immediate access to the intruder. Some especially nasty programs can wipe all data on an infected machine.
Even if the room and the servers are secured, standard office buildings are generally unable to protect machines from larger threats. A natural disaster, such as a tornado, fire, earthquake, or lightning strike, can do enough damage to a building to damage or destroy the equipment inside a server room.
Physical security is strongest in a dedicated data center. But some business leaders don’t feel they can justify the expense of this solution. If you’re not willing to make the investment, at least consider locked rooms or cages, card reader access, key fobs, dedicated security guards, or even lower-level biometric security as viable options.
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