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New Data Center and the newer attacks- are you ready?

With every passing year, IT security is becoming the most significant issue for the industry. While threats to any part of the infrastructure are a big risk, Data security is the biggest fear in enterprise.

The Data Center has grown up from being a multiple server, energy guzzling mammoth to a practically invisible, sleek, virtual storage arena, mostly on the cloud. It has become smarter, faster, more agile and highly scalable, at very little extra cost.

But this development comes at a price. Now, it has the added threats that the cloud faces, or virtualised networks and data face…or worse, the connected technologies face. Mobile networks, cloud based and virtualised accessibility, in other words, has made the Data Centre extremely vulnerable to hacking or cyber attacks. So, evolving with the Data Center, these threats also present a new security paradigm that enterprises need to be ready to meet head on.

Risks unique to virtualisation are now coming to the forefront, as Data Centers adopt the virtualisation technologies. Here are a few known risks:

In a virtualised environment, protected by traditional security apps, there is no visibility to machines on the same host, unless they are routed through outside the host machine, creating critical Communication blind spots. One of the ways to meet this risk is to dedicate security scanning virtual machines that scan the communication connecters between the VMs within the host. But for a cloud host, they will need self defending virtual machines.

The connected nature of virtualised environment makes guest devices a big threat. One compromise means risk for all the devices and machines. You need a firewall and a malicious activity detection system at the VM level. An attack on the hypervisor often means bigger risk since then all the machines are compromised, especially when the API is threatened. Most vendors strive to keep the API s secure, because that is the first line of threat for the data canter and everything else that’s on the platform. The risk goes even higher when critical data is stored on the same host as less critical ones, resulting in Mixed Trust Levels. Then it is difficult to protect only the critical data, and the way out is usually self- defending VM security that can help protect against.

Data Centres on the cloud also face the same threats- since the cloud sits on a virtual environment. In addition, the cloud computing devices, which cover multiple points like roaming mobile devices, stretch the perimeter and make the environment more vulnerable. In addition, on a cloud based data center, data is often moved around for optimal utilization…and this means the owners are often unaware of the location of their data. Also any residual data, which may be critical, needs to be eliminated during this shifting. Multi tenancy clouds are anyway more vulnerable, provided the security is designed so that any one user cannot access any other Data center. Data encryption is most often the security app used, but with evolving usage and constant expansion of the environment, threats will always ensue.

So is there any way of staying secure with your next generation Data Center? Of course- the answer is next-gen security!

The traditional means of Data Center security will definitely not help to secure your modern infrastructure. To keep your virtualised data safe, an answer could be security appliances with numerous points in the data center. Their virtual nature allows them to keep track of all parts of the network, and in some cases, these can be programmed to do a specific security function as well, creating a new layer of security can help fight malware, unauthorized devices and network viruses. In addition, advanced deep scanning engines like data-loss prevention (DLP), intrusion detection/prevention services (IPS/IDS) can help create a security lock. Intelligent network monitoring algorithms can also help control the movement of data in and out of the machines, while access can be prevented for certain type of devices, unless authorised. The smartest move for a keeping a modern Data Center safe is layered security. This can place entire apps behind intelligent engines that continuously scan for anomalies.

Despite all the technology, security threats will always be there. Deploying intelligent applications and barricades for data centers could be your safest bet in a battle that will never end.

As Data Center technologies evolve, so will threats. The best one can do is to have the right teams, armed with the right kind of technologies and applications to counter this threat that modernisation and evolution brings.

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Palanirajamuthukumarasamy
Chief Information Security Officer- Sify Technologies LTD

Palaniraja is the Chief information Security officer in Sify Technologies Ltd, He is heading the Managed Security Services and Information security consulting Services in Sify, Multi certified expert in Enterprise security Strategies, Secure cloud computing, Auditing, Security Consulting, Information Security and Risk management with near two decades of experience and exposure in Information Security and Network Security space; He has Global exposure on large Network Security project executions and Delivery, prior to Sify he worked in HCL Technologies, Tata Communications Limited & Computer Sciences Corporation India.

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