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A Modern Threat: The Importance of Data and Server Rack Security for Military Bases

Posted by Dan Ryan on Aug 4, 2017 1:00:00 PM

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Today's military and intelligence units have a tough task at hand as they face a sobering reality: traditional methods of protecting a country and its citizens are no longer good enough.

Gone are the days where the latest weaponry and a strong army was all that was needed to keep peace at home and discourage conflict abroad.

The modern age requires those charged with protecting a country's people and interests to be prepared to fight both traditional and cutting-edge threats.

It's ironic, actually: the most visible forms of military security, like fighter jets and tanks, are borderline useless when it comes to protecting the country against one of today's biggest threats: cyberattacks and data theft.

As the world has become more connected through the Internet, smartphones and other forms of modern technology, cyber defenses have become increasingly important.

A half-century ago, "hacking" as a concept didn't really pose a tremendous threat; today, a powerful hacker could potentially take down a country's electric grid, disable air defenses or even force an unauthorized weapons launch, all with some malicious code and a few key strokes.

It's clear: protecting computer infrastructure and data has never been more important.

In this day and age, cybersecurity is national security

Most agencies or military divisions know to take digital steps to protect their files and systems.

Files are encrypted, computers are password protected, networks are guarded by firewalls — all of these steps are second nature to high-security organizations.

However, many organizations focus so much on the digital side of things that the physical security of their data and information systems falls by the wayside.

Unfortunately, this is often where these high-security installations are most vulnerable.

Why is it essential for military or intelligence facilities to guard their servers?

For many military and intelligence facilities, every digital communication is protected by some level of secrecy. All of this communication needs to be kept from prying eyes. Sensitive data stored on servers could include:

  • Personnel files for soldiers, officials or even undercover agents
  • Bid contracts with outside providers
  • Dossiers or investigative documents on sensitive subjects
  • Plans for military aircraft, weapons or other pieces of equipment

If any of the files above were to end up in the wrong hands, the resulting scandal and fallout would be embarrassing at best and life-threatening at worst.

What steps can be taken to guard physical data centers?

While that email system might be locked down tightly, an intruder or inside agent might not have as much trouble jiggling open the door of a server room and gaining unfettered access to the server racks.

There are no more excuses: server security is a must-have item for any military organization or intelligence agency.

The best way to protect this valuable area of your facility is by adding a physical data center security system to your server racks themselves; this kind of system is also known as a server rack security system.

Think of a server rack security system as being like a mini access control system, strictly for your server racks and cabinets.

Just like an access control system monitors and controls access to your offices, hallways and closets, a server rack security system monitors and controls who is able to open up your server racks and access the servers inside.

Server rack security protects servers through the robust features listed below, each of which is perfect for protecting military or intelligence agency data.

The two-man rule

We covered this unique security feature in a blog post a little more than a year ago, but it's worth revisiting.

military server security solutions.jpgTo recap, the two-man rule is a security procedure that requires two different credentials to be used in order for a certain action to be performed.

In data center security, the two-man rule is used as a way to ensure that a single stolen card/key or a rogue actor aren't able to access the servers on their own.

The two-man rule, in this situation, requires two different access cards to be swiped at the server rack in order to open the rack door. There is usually a preset amount of time where the cards are able to be swiped, normally in the 5-10 second range.

The main benefit of this system is that it drastically decreases the likelihood of a single individual having unfettered access to your servers, whether that individual is an intruder or an insider.

Monitor rack actions

While a server rack security system is good at keeping unauthorized users out, it also performs another vital service: monitoring the actions of authorized users.

Organizations don't like to admit it, but inside actors often pose a greater threat to data security than outside actors.  In the case of military or intelligence organizations, the term "inside actors" refers to individuals who are authorized to view and work with classified information, like employees or contractors.

These individuals can use their credentials to access data or server racks without raising suspicion. They can then download or record the data they access to sell it to unauthorized individuals, leak it to the media and more.

With a server rack security system, an organization is able to monitor the "who, when and how long" aspects of their server racks. The software is able to monitor and keep detailed reports on which server rack was opened, which credentials were used to unlock the cabinet, how long the cabinet door was open and more.

This information may seem like overkill on the surface, but it can be used to provide a vital data trail in the event of a breach or a data leak.

Standalone or networked security

Many military bases or intelligence agency facilities are spacious, multi-building campuses. Offices, training centers, cafeterias and more can be spread across an area that spans multiple city blocks.

top secret security clearance security solutions for data control.jpgThese facilities often use their data centers the same way, storing server racks in multiple buildings.

This is done for a variety of reasons, including separating the racks so they're not all destroyed in the event of a fire or accident. However, this comes at the price of security, as server racks spread across multiple sites are harder to monitor.

With a server rack security system, this problem is eliminated thanks to the ability to monitor multiple sites from a central location.

Whether the server rooms are located across the parking lot from each other or across the state, a good server security system will make them so easy to control that it's like they're in the same room.

It's also worth noting that a server security system doesn't have to be networked; it can also be used as a single, standalone system.

Video integration

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While audit trails and spreadsheet reports are great, there's no evidence more powerful than video. 

A good server rack security system is able to integrate with surveillance video providers to allow video feeds to be viewed within the software itself.

Also, these recordings don't need to be limited to monitoring a full feed or fast-forwarding until you find what you're looking for: some server rack security software can be set up to begin recording whenever a server rack door is opened or closed, and can even be used to record keystrokes while a rack is open.


Security for server racks and physical data centers is a complicated topic to tackle, but you don't have to do it alone. If you're looking for a solution that offers all of the features above, there's only one answer: Rack Armor!

Speak to an expert member of our access control team to discuss your security needs, learn about how Rack Armor can help your facility and more — all with no obligation!

You can also learn more about Rack Armor by watching a short product video below.

Watch a video                                     Let's talk server security

Topics: access control, Rack Armor, server security, data security, government access control, data center security

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