6 Security Risks with Collocated Servers and How to Mitigate Them

Businesses today must find ways to optimize their IT infrastructure in a competitive digital landscape, and one popular method is colocation hosting, where servers belonging to an organization are housed within a third-party data center owned by another provider. Colocation hosting offers many advantages such as cost savings and increased reliability. However, it also introduces security risks which should be carefully evaluated.

In this article, we’ll address six significant security risks associated with collocated servers and explore effective strategies to counteract them.

Network Security Challenges

Collocated servers are inextricably linked to the data center’s network infrastructure, making them vulnerable to various network-based threats such as distributed denial of service (DDoS) attacks, intrusion attempts, and data interception.

Protecting your servers from network-based threats requires taking a multi-pronged approach. First, employ firewalls and intrusion detection systems (IDS) to monitor incoming and outgoing traffic. Use encrypted virtual private networks (VPNs) or Secure Sockets Layer/Transport Layer Security (SSL/TLS) connections to protect data transmission between them. Ensure regular updates or patch management on operating systems or applications to stay resilient against emerging threats. Also, update their software regularly or patch management to remain resilient against evolving threats.

Adopting colocation services is an intelligent solution when faced with network security challenges, as they rely on the expertise of data centers dedicated to safeguarding their client infrastructure. These centers invest in cutting-edge security measures like physical security, firewalls, and intrusion detection systems, providing a powerful defense against network-based threats. Furthermore, colocation services offer redundancy and disaster recovery options that ensure business continuity even during unexpected security incidents.

Physical Access Vulnerabilities

When you opt for collocated servers, you surrender direct physical control over your hardware. This relinquishment of control can potentially expose your servers to unauthorized access, theft, or tampering by malicious actors.

To address this risk, it’s crucial to start by selecting a reputable data center with robust access controls, surveillance systems, and on-site security personnel. Additionally, you can enhance security by housing your servers within lockable racks or cages within the data center, limiting physical access to authorized personnel only. Biometric authentication systems and regular audits can further bolster your physical security measures.

Data Breach Vulnerabilities

Data breaches cost businesses an average of $4.35 million in 2022. Data breaches can stem from a myriad of factors, including inadequate security measures, misconfigurations, or vulnerabilities within your server software. Such breaches can lead to the unauthorized exposure of sensitive data, posing severe consequences for your organization.

Shielding your collocated servers against data breaches demands a comprehensive approach. Start by employing strong authentication methods such as two-factor authentication (2FA), to block unauthorized access. Conduct regular security audits and vulnerability assessments to quickly identify misconfigurations or weak points in your server setup that need rectifying immediately, before installing intrusion prevention systems that actively detect and prevent malicious activity before it happens. Encrypt data both while it travels over networks as well as when stored permanently to lower risk in case of breaches.

Power and Connectivity Failures

Collocated servers rely on a stable power supply and network connectivity. Any interruptions or failures in these critical resources can result in downtime and disrupt your business operations.

Mitigating the risks associated with power and connectivity failures necessitates redundancy. 

Invest in uninterruptible power supplies (UPS) and backup generators to maintain a continuous power supply. Implement failover network connections to ensure uninterrupted network connectivity. Regularly test these backup systems to verify their functionality and reliability.

Disaster Recovery and Data Backup

Natural disasters, hardware failures, or even human errors can lead to data loss in a collocated server environment. Without adequate disaster recovery and backup solutions, your organization may face significant data recovery challenges.

Protecting your data from loss requires a comprehensive disaster recovery plan and reliable backup solutions. Regularly back up your data to off-site locations or cloud services, ensuring that critical information is readily retrievable in the event of a disaster. Test your disaster recovery procedures regularly to ensure a swift and effective response in case of emergencies.

Compliance and Legal Considerations

Your industry could impose various regulatory and legal obligations regarding data security and privacy that you must meet, such as breach of contract regulations. Failure to abide by these can result in severe fines.

Staying current on industry regulations is essential to meeting compliance and legal considerations, so staying abreast of their specifics is vitally important. Consult with legal experts and compliance professionals to ensure that your collocated server setup aligns with these requirements. Implement robust security policies and practices that are in line with industry standards and best practices to demonstrate your commitment to data security and compliance.

Final Thoughts

While collocating servers in a data center offers many benefits, it also introduces security risks that require proactive mitigation. By carefully considering and addressing these six common security risks, you can ensure that your collocated servers remain secure and reliable, allowing your organization to reap the benefits of this hosting solution with confidence. Remember that security is an ongoing process, and staying vigilant is key to safeguarding your digital assets in a collocated server environment.

6 Security Risks with Collocated Servers and How to Mitigate Them was last updated September 15th, 2023 by Nathan Skalbeck