Cybersecurity Guidance for Data Centre Power and Cooling Infrastructure System

by Patrick Donovan and Katie Hargraves

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Executive summary

Monitoring data center physical infrastructure systems with management software means connecting power, cooling, environmental and security monitoring devices to IP networks. These networks often extend to remote servers, corporate IT systems, mobile devices, and 3rd party cloud services. These connections offer potential avenues of attack for hackers. Mitigating these cyber security risks requires continuous action from both vendors and those involved in the design, installation, operation, and maintenance of the data center. This paper describes what to expect from vendors and presents user best practices for each phase of the lifecycle of the site. NOTE: This white paper is not a detailed, step-by-step guide for your actual, specific installation. Rather, it is meant to be an overview guide or checklist to assist in developing a detailed strategy.


Network-connected, data centre physical infrastructure equipment1 – i.e., the power, cooling, and environmental/security-monitoring devices found in the IT space – are necessary for ensuring availability and making operation of the data centre efficient. However, these network connections, particularly if poorly designed and implemented, could be used by cyber criminals as an attack surface. A typical installation is composed of widely distributed, network-connected hardware devices communicating to network gateways, firewalls, and on-premise or remote infrastructure management (DCIM) servers. These connections may extend to mobile devices, corporate IT and facility management systems, and 3rd party cloud services. Figure 1 shows a simplified block diagram of an example data centre to highlight the many potential cyber-attack vectors on power and cooling infrastructure that is network connected to potentially a wide variety of devices, users, and monitoring systems. The arrows represent data flow and network connectedness.

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