Disk Encryption: Thieves In Gloucester (UK) Steal £220,000 Worth Of Servers.

Police have released video footage of three burglars stealing computer equipment from a company at the Barnwood Business Centre in Gloucester, UK (not MA).  A very good reminder that, when not done correctly, physical security is more than easily defeated with less than $50 worth of equipment.  It clearly illustrates the need for better methods of protection…if it’s available.  AlertBoot’s data encryption software is such a tool when it comes to safeguarding data.

Sledgehammer vs. Door: Sledgehammer Wins

If you take a look at the video footage, it’s pretty obvious that the trio is composed of two men and one woman.  Between the three, they’ve got a sledgehammer and crowbar.  Now, these appear to come in handy, but at least in one instance, one of the burglars just forcefully pushes on a door to gain access.  No tools necessary.  I guess that’s why they’ve lost £220,000 worth of servers.

I don’t know what kind of establishment this business center happens to be, but I can’t imagine it’s a data center, even if I do see from the footage what appears to be the CAT5 festoonery and cages of some sort.  But then, a rack does not a data center make.  Plus, there appears to be no guards present.  And, what’s with the doors that are opened so easily?  A little push or pull and, voila!, they’re in.

Let me describe to you the data centers I’m used to:

  • Armed security guards, 24/7

  • Video surveillance, with feeds being stored in a geographically removed location

  • Steel doors

  • Magnetized locks

  • Individually locked cages for equipment

Not easily penetrated by three bumbling guys, eh?

Even then, I used to take a look at our cage and try to figure out how things could go wrong.  In a shared space, it quickly becomes evident that your neighbors could use a long stick to wreak havoc on your servers: for walls, the cages use what is essentially chicken wire.  This allows the cold air in the room to efficiently disperse, cooling your equipment.  It also allows long, thin objects to enter your private space.

You could also hire little people to crawl around in the space below elevated-floors and get into cages that way.  That’s right; I spend nights thinking about this stuff.

That’s why we take a look at our data and use encryption software on whatever is deemed sensitive enough that it needs protection.  Even with all the physical security in place, it’s quite obvious that there can be ways in which the security can be overcome (this data breach in Chicago comes to mind).

Data Encryption Even More Important for Mobile Devices

It goes without saying that if you’re dealing with the protection of devices that are not fixed to the floor (such as racks of servers) and were designed to be portable, you really ought to be using disk encryption software.

First and foremost, encryption ensures that your data remains protected, no matter what happens to the device.

Second, the use of full disk encryption ensures the least hassle when it comes to data protection: 100% of your data on the disk is protected.  This is unlike file encryption, where you’re continuously wondering if certain files were encrypted or not.

Certainly, there is a “performance hit” if you use full disk encryption; however, this hit is minimal and you wouldn’t notice it if you’re using a laptop computer.  Generally, using a laptop means you’re not really doing anything that’s considered “data intensive.”  In other words, you’ll never notice it.  You know, just like you don’t know whether your car is a V8 or a V6 when stuck in traffic and you’re crawling at 15 mph.

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