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What to know about hybrid data center security strategies

Cybersecurity is critical to protect data and systems. Admins of hybrid data centers must understand the risks of a hybrid model and how specific cyberattacks can be prevented.

Cybersecurity is a challenge to mobile applications as they move across environments from on-premises data centers to private and public clouds. It is vital for data center providers and cloud vendors to secure apps and data in these environments.

Cloud providers typically have their own security protocols and measures. Data center owners, however, must offer security that's appropriate for their architectures and customers. They must also protect data and systems as they integrate with cloud architectures for hybrid cloud setups.

What is a hybrid data center model?

A hybrid data center is a type of cloud computing architecture that combines on-premises, public cloud and private cloud resources, such as virtualization, containerization and cloud- and software-defined networking. It combines these technologies to deliver workloads across physical data centers and multi-cloud environments.

A hybrid data center enables businesses and organizations to mix cloud and traditional IT environments to suit their needs. This mix of on-premises and cloud environments makes it a challenge to protect and secure information. Hybrid customers, cloud providers and data center facility owners need reliable methods to detect and combat cyberthreats.

Security threats to hybrid data center models

Hybrid data centers and related architectures help businesses achieve operational efficiency but also increase security risks. Distributed networks reduce the visibility of attack surfaces and introduce new blind spots across the network, its applications and the data it stores and transmits. Disruptions could pose a significant operational, financial and reputational impact to the businesses that use the data centers and the facilities.

Two main threats to the availability and security of hybrid data centers are threats to the underlying infrastructure, and cyber threats to the data and applications hosted on it.

Infrastructure and physical attacks

Admins must protect against exploits of their data center infrastructure -- compute, storage and network functionality. Proper protection makes it difficult for attackers to disrupt the applications hosted on the infrastructure and guard against natural or physical attacks that can disrupt services.

To protect against physical attacks, facility owners must use access control systems, like biometric scanners, keycards and PIN codes to restrict entry to only authorized personnel. Surveillance systems, like CCTV cameras and motion sensors, can identify suspicious activity and deter unauthorized access.

Environmental controls and monitors protect the data center against fire, temperature changes and other natural disasters. Monitoring devices include advanced fire detection and suppression systems, HVAC systems to maintain optimal operating conditions, and power supplies with backup generators and uninterruptible power supplies to guarantee continuous operation.

Cyberattacks on hosted services

Data centers host business-critical and customer-facing applications. Threat actors can target and exploit these apps in various ways, including DDoS attacks, DNS attacks, credential compromises and web application attacks. Facility owners who employ remote access tools to monitor and access applications and physical hardware must be aware of the risks associated with these tools and how to guard against them.

Third-party applications deployed within the infrastructure also create unintended or unknown security vulnerabilities because they rely on the security of the third-party providers and tools. Facility administrators should take appropriate security measures to protect their facilities, customers and data.

Hybrid data center security tools

Hybrid data centers offer combined physical security of the traditional data center with cloud-based security tools. For example, use zero-trust architecture to limit access and permissions to the minimum required for business needs and network segmentation to prevent lateral movement across machines and applications.

While hybrid data centers rely on cloud providers to protect their environments, they should use the following precautions:

  • Provide continuous monitoring across and within their perimeters.
  • Be capable of detecting anomalous behavior.
  • Offer advanced visibility across the entire network as necessary.
  • Integrate with cloud security platforms to ensure complete customer network coverage.

Hybrid data center security software

Data centers can use these security products to protect their infrastructure and environments. The data center security tools have been placed in alphabetical order and were chosen by the author based on their capabilities to protect against hybrid model cyberattacks.

  • IBM Security QRadar uses enterprise-grade AI and automation to increase detection, productivity and mitigation for enterprise clients. It's built on an open platform and a wide partner ecosystem. It has more than 900 prebuilt integrations to connect data centers and cloud partners.
  • Securonix's platform unifies hybrid environment security monitoring across environments and architectures, including AWS, Google Cloud and Microsoft Azure. It helps administrators uncover blind spots in hybrid architectures so admins can fully view the data center and cloud networks, along with connectors and integrations.
  • Splunk's security software offers unified threat detection, investigation and response suite. Combine Splunk Enterprise Security, SOAR, User Behavior Analytics and Attack Analyzer in the Splunk Platform to quickly detect, investigate and respond to threats.

Julia Borgini is a freelance technical copywriter and content marketing strategist who helps B2B technology companies publish valuable content.

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