How Federal Agencies Can Bolster Cyber and Physical Security at Edge Computing and Data Center Sites
Security is becoming more important at the edge, and often times supporting infrastructure like power and cooling devices are overlooked. This article will discuss the importance of including these devices in your security strategy.
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On the heels of the SolarWinds and Colonial Pipeline hacks, President Joe Biden issued an Executive Order instructing the federal government to “improve its efforts to identify, deter, protect against, detect, and respond to” to cyber threats and adversaries.
Among other measures, the order requires federal agencies to adopt security best practices, take steps to secure cloud services, implement Zero Trust policies and adopt the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) Framework. Within 60 days of the order’s issuance on May 12, agency chiefs must update their security plans to incorporate these measures.
The order puts the onus on federal agencies to review what upgrades they need to protect the data centers, edge sites and cloud infrastructures that support their mission. While the executive order focuses on cybersecurity, it’s important to recognize that a holistic approach to edge and data center security involves three types of protection:
- Cybersecurity tools and practices to detect, respond to and remediate cyber threats to hardware, storage, software, firmware and networking equipment.
- Physical security through video surveillance and physical access controls such as biometric door locks.
- Remote monitoring of the power and cooling infrastructure.
While not always recognized as such, backup power systems play an essential role in protecting edge and data center infrastructure. When the main grid fails, backup power can prevent downtime and equipment damage. Increasingly, power distribution units (PDUs) and uninterruptible power supplies (UPSs) have connectivity capabilities to enable data capture and remote monitoring and management. Agencies need to put plans in place to upgrade older-generation devices lacking modern connectivity capabilities.
Smart PDUs and UPSs connect to remote monitoring platforms that issue alerts when a problem occurs so it can be fixed swiftly. Platforms also collect and log data to detect anomalies and over time reveal patterns that, when understood, help improve performance and strengthen cyber defenses.
The cooling infrastructure also needs to be monitored. Much like backup power, cooling systems protect equipment at edge computing sites and data centers by preventing overheating. If cooling systems malfunction or get hacked, it could cause damage to servers, storage and networking equipment resulting in unplanned service outages.
Lastly, a comprehensive security strategy includes physical security. It is common for data centers and edge centers to have biometrics, virtual fence, and video surveillance systems that can detect unauthorized access and suspicious behavior. Increasingly, these systems are monitored remotely and have artificial intelligence (AI) that analyze video in real time and issue alerts on threats and intrusions.
Expert help for protection
Protecting edge computing sites and data center environments is a tall order for many federal agencies. Making sure all the equipment and software is protected and functioning properly requires skills that aren’t always available in house. So it makes sense to work with an IT solution provider to pull the components together and, where appropriate, deliver monitoring and management services.
WWT is one such provider which partners with other industry leaders, such as Dell Technologies and Schneider Electric, to deliver complete solutions to protect edge and data center environments.
Dell Technologies has a broad and robust IT portfolio, including client and server compute solutions, storage and networking, as well as converged and hyper-converged infrastructure. Schneider Electric provides the supporting physical infrastructure, including APC Uninterruptable Power Supplies, APC NetshelterTM Racks, cooling and reference designs.
WWT pulls everything together while providing testing and validation in our Advanced Technology Center, where customers can test solutions before deployment.
Learn more about how WWT works in tandem with Dell and Schneider Electric to provide solutions that help federal agencies comply with President Biden’s cybersecurity order and protect them from the ever-present dangers of cyber threats. For additional information, follow our Facilities Infrastructure focus area and request a workshop or assessment with our experts.