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Data Center Security Trends

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Data center security is an ongoing challenge for virtually every modern organization.

Companies of all sizes need to find ways to safeguard data wherever it is stored. An increasingly complex approach to data management and skyrocketing cybercrime activity are fueling organizational urgency to get effective data center security measures in place.

Data center security today

Data center security is an umbrella term that encompasses a wide range of security practices and applications, including firewalls and anti-malware programs, focused on protecting data centers from threats, attacks, and unauthorized access.

Data center security also includes efforts to protect against and recover from damage to physical data center infrastructure, including natural disasters and physical break-ins.

5 trends in data center security

1. Social engineering security is becoming more commonplace for data centers

In addition to digital and physical security categories, a third data center security focus has emerged: social engineering security. This area focuses on user education about good security practices, which can help organizations avoid becoming victims of phishing and spear-phishing campaigns. 

Phishing schemes were the most common cyber crimes in 2020, with incidents nearly doubling in frequency from 2019, according to the FBI. Compared with 2016, the FBI handled 11 times as many phishing complaints in 2020. 

2. Data center security spending is on the rise

Gartner reports that the global data center security market will reach a value of $200 billion by the end of 2021, a 6% year-over-year increase.

While the data center security industry experienced a COVID-19-influenced slowdown in 2020, especially related to infrastructure spending, Gartner expects spending in this area to more than rebound over the next handful of years.

3. Increased automation adoption will improve data center security operations

Automation was on the rise in business operations on the whole before the COVID-19 pandemic, but many organizations have accelerated automation adoption for data center security in its wake. To keep operations safely flowing during unexpected events, organizations must be less reliant on human intervention. 

Autonomous systems are more intelligent than in years past and can handle more precise, involved tasks. Organizations are increasingly using automation and robotics to handle processes, like application delivery, scheduling, and automating workflows. 

In their joint study, “2021 State of the Data Center Industry,” the data center professional membership association AFCOM and Data Center World report that 40% of respondents said they planned to deploy robotics and automation to monitor and maintain their data centers over the next three years.  

4. The nature of data center security threats is changing

Data centers are a prime target for cybercriminals. After all, these facilities store vital proprietary data and, often, personal identifying information (PII) subject to various industry and governmental regulations. Breaching a data center can be a goldmine for a would-be cyber thief. 

Ransomware, in particular, is a growing threat to data center operations, as cybercriminals have specifically targeted data center infrastructure. For example, when South Korean hosting giant Nayana was attacked in 2020, thousands of hosted customer websites were taken offline for several weeks, and the company was unable to recover all affected sites even after paying a USD $1 million ransom. 

Equinix, one of the world’s largest global data centers, experienced a similar attack on its infrastructure in September 2021. In this case, the attackers demanded USD $4.5 million. The situation was especially concerning because Equinix connects directly to AWS, Google Cloud, Microsoft Azure, Oracle, and AT&T.

5. Cloud and edge computing are changing the scope of data center security

IDC estimates that by the end of 2021, 80% of enterprises will set up processes that will facilitate a shift to cloud applications and infrastructure “twice as fast” as before the COVID-19 pandemic. Edge computing — a form of distributed data infrastructure — is also being adopted quickly among enterprises. Analyst firm Omdia predicts that by 2024, the number of servers deployed at the edge will double to 4.7 million. 

Cloud and edge computing present unique challenges for securing data centers. Organizations are making larger investments into specialized software tools that target data stored in these locations. 

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