Tips for improving data center security

Data center teams have been under growing pressure to maintain high performance and availability while also securing the network and protecting corporate data from a vast number of endpoints.

Data center teams have been under growing pressure to maintain high performance and availability while also securing the network and protecting corporate data from a vast number of endpoints. However, security can often be pushed to the side in light of competing demands from business units. As CSO magazine contributor Evelyn de Souza recently noted, it’s important to sometimes take a step back and evaluate how IT security processes can be made more effective.

Expedite service delivery

As previously mentioned, business users increasingly expect IT services to be delivered in real time. This often competes with security policies, which demand strong authentication controls and limited access to sensitive data. Furthermore, businesses may be pressured to adopt cloud hosting solutions for the advantage of scalability and to enable business users to provision the IT resources they need. According to de Souza, template-driven processes may be the answer. This approach allows IT security teams to work from established frameworks, which can be adjusted as new problems emerge.

Ensure security does not impact performance

Even when implementing security solutions that end users do not encounter directly, it can be difficult to ensure continued performance. As de Souza noted, implementing cumbersome security tools also diminishes the potential value of investing in more powerful infrastructure. Furthermore, an IDG Network World study of IT decision makers found that 73 percent were not confident in their firewall technology’s ability to meet current performance demands.

“Select a platform that has been architected not only to ensure high throughput, but also maximize availability and ensure optimal traffic flows,” de Souza wrote.”Additionally, clustering and a pay as you go model will ensure that hardware investments are maximized.”

Focus on users and data

One of the core challenges in the IT security arena is that managing technology infrastructure is becoming more complex. For instance, IT security teams do not have control over the network-level safeguards in third-party cloud storage environments, which business units have turned to for collaboration, backup and a wide range of other uses. As a result, de Souza advised focusing on data-centric safeguards such as encryption and ensuring that users are aware of common threats to information security.

Despite some aversion to the cloud, many organizations already leverage the technology and have done so without adding considerable risk. For example, a recent report from InformationWeek found that 28 percent of respondents plan to deliver at least a quarter of their IT services via cloud computing within the next two years. Despite concerns from CISOs, researchers argued that cloud providers often offer more security than on-premises data centers. Furthermore, cloud providers are typically audited more frequently than an individual organization’s facility. This means that vendors that can showcase security certifications offer their customers security that is often put to the test.

“We try and relate cloud security models to traditional security models,” said Dimension Data security portfolio manager Martin Schlatter, who was quoted in the report. “Risk assessment in the cloud is much like risk assessment in an enterprise environment: least privilege, zoning … it’s just another form of outsourcing.”

Brain Brafton loves and lives technology. A big data geek and an information retrieval junkie he consumes, analyses, interprets and process data like he was a machine. On a continual learning iteration his believe life is a journey not a destination. To keep in contact with Brain find him on Google+ or on Twitter