The Ultimate Colocation Security Guide for Businesses

August 2, 2023

The Ultimate Colocation Security Guide for Businesses

If you decide to migrate your assets and data to a colocation facility, one of the first questions you'll ask is how this facility meets your industry's regulatory compliance standards. Secure colocation is a must, as you need to know that your facility can protect your assets. Knowing what to look for in colocation security can give you a sense of whether a particular center is right for your organization.

The worldwide colocation data center market is estimated to be $51.25 billion, so data centers must protect their client's digital assets and the underlying infrastructure that powers their services.

Understanding Colocation Security

Colocation centers store massive amounts of hardware and sensitive information. To secure the facility, they must have comprehensive policies, technologies and on-site practices. Physical and digital security are both important aspects of colocation.

Colocation physical security is enforced by restricting and managing access to the facility through stringent access rules and physical infrastructure such as surveillance systems, biometric authentication and 24/7 security personnel. However, potential threats are digital and physical, so a two-pronged approach is essential.

Colocation data centers must have robust cyber security protocols, including network protection, firewalls and encryption. A lack of security in either aspect can result in unauthorized access and network vulnerabilities.

Colocation Security Standards

Data centers must ensure regulatory compliance and observe robust security best practices. Data centers housing customer data must maintain control and visibility over their assets and commit to meeting colocation security compliance standards. Reputable colocation centers form part of your compliance and make their reports available to you.

If your data center is compliant, you can relay that information to your stakeholders, enhancing your reputation and giving them peace of mind. Work with a data center with the relevant certifications to meet your specific industry requirements so you can rest assured that they can handle your ever-changing needs.

Physical Colocation Security

Data centers should be secure by design and employ a minimum of five rings of physical security to cover their infrastructure. Some components of the five rings of physical security include the following:

Facility Access Controls

Controlling access to the data center facility is the first line of physical defense. Your data center should employ the following measures:

  • Biometric authentication: Biometrics is one of the safest forms of authentication. Iris and fingerprint scanners prevent unauthorized individuals from entering the facility.
  • Video surveillance: A secure data center has internal and external camera coverage at all access points and 24/7 monitoring.

Security Personnel

Physical security often includes visitor login, intrusion alarms and motion detectors. Data centers rely on dependable security personnel to monitor access and behavior in the following ways:

  • On-site guards: Security personnel can confirm authentication and respond immediately to motion detectors or alarm disturbances.
  • Remote monitoring: A secure data center offers 24/7 monitoring and alarms for HVAC, temperature changes, power outages, and water and humidity detection so personnel can respond, preventing downtime or damaged equipment.

Disaster Prevention and Recovery

In a disaster such as a fire, data centers should be able to limit the damages using fire suppression systems, early smoke detection and a backup power supply. Early smoke detection enables data center personnel to identify and respond before the fire can spread. Fire suppression systems using gas or sprinklers are the most common to contain fire outbreaks without damaging the equipment.

In a disaster or inclement weather, an uninterruptible power supply (UPS) and backup generators should keep your business online, reducing expensive downtime.

Digital Colocation Security

Many threats to your data don't require physical access to the building. Alongside robust physical security, data centers should have equally powerful digital security to protect your assets. There are many approaches to digital security, the most common of which include the following:

Digital Colocation Security

Network Protection

Many data centers offer network security solutions, including firewalls and intrusion detection, which alert the security team of suspicious or unauthorized activity and block unwanted data traffic.

Distributed denial-of-service (DDoS) is a typical cyber attack characterized by a malicious attempt to block your server's regular traffic by overwhelming it with unwanted internet traffic. Secure data centers mitigate DDoS, detecting and responding to the threat by absorbing and rerouting the malicious traffic.

Data Encryption

Your data is stored in your servers and transmitted across the internet. Data center security should ensure your data is encrypted, whether it's stored or transmitted, using the following:

  • Encryption at rest: Encryption is applied to stored data, often implemented at the source where data is generated and stored.
  • Encryption in transit: Encryption is applied to data traveling across a network, which is unencrypted at the source and the destination.

Vulnerability Management

Every security system has vulnerabilities that require careful management. Your data center should conduct regular security audits to evaluate the effectiveness and efficiency of its risk control measures. You should have access to the results to understand how they plan to mitigate any risks.

Colocation centers also include vulnerability and patch management programs to identify, score and remediate security vulnerabilities efficiently. Many work with third-party threat intelligence services to ensure they take a proactive approach to prioritizing patching and vulnerability management.

Colocation Security Compliance

If you're looking for a reliable colocation center to secure your data, inquire about the following certifications:

  • ISO 27001: ISO 27001 is the security standard that summarizes the recommended systems for building, monitoring and improving an information security management system (ISMS) and comprises a set of policies for handling an organization's sensitive information.
  • SSAE 18 and SOC 2: The statement on standards for attestation engagements (SSAE) regulates how organizations conduct business and define how to report on compliance control through SOC 1, 2 and 3 reports. SOC 2 is critical for all colocation providers, as it documents that the center has the required security controls and that they work.

Colocation centers must also comply with data protection regulations. While regulations vary depending on the industry, some standard regulations include the following:

  • General data protection regulation (GDPR): Data centers must have policies and procedures to protect their data, provide adequate physical security and comply with the standards and certifications above.
  • Health insurance portability and accountability act (HIPAA): Any data center storing protected health information must meet all HIPAA standards. Independent auditors measure HIPAA, and colocation centers must follow all policies and procedures before offering HIPAA-compliant solutions.

How to Evaluate a Colocation Provider's Security

Partnering with a colocation provider means you must be able to trust them to protect your assets. Thoroughly research to ensure the center can meet your business needs. These steps can help you verify their security protocols effectively:

  • Assess physical and digital security measures: Learn what security measures the center employs and evaluate its strengths and weaknesses. Ask to see their on-site security and access management.
  • Review their compliance and certifications: A certification is one thing, but meeting the requirements is another. Your colocation center should be willing to show you its audits and certifications to foster a transparent and trusting relationship and put your mind at ease. Pay specific attention to compliance awarded by independent auditors.
  • Analyze their security policies and procedures: Part of maintaining compliance is to have comprehensive security policies and ensure everyone adheres to them. Ask your potential provider to take you through their policies and procedures to maintain security in the colocation center and mitigate damage in case of a breach, fire or other disasters.

Trust Your Colocation Security With US Signal

Trust Your Colocation Security With US Signal

Security is always a primary concern, and your colocation center should put your mind at ease with robust physical and digital security solutions. At US Signal, we take a Fort Knox approach to protecting your assets. Our IT infrastructure meets various compliance demands, and we're happy to provide our independent audit documentation.

Please feel free to connect with us and start your colocation with robust and reliable security today!

Additional Colocation Resources

To learn more about data management, check out these articles below from our blog or visit our resource center for whitepapers, e-books and more!