Behind the scenes of Google’s data center security and data protection

The security and data protection measures implemented at Google Data Centers are extensive and impressive, as revealed in an official Google Apps video tour of a South Carolina center. It’s like something out of a sci-fi movie: constant surveillance and security presence, highly restricted access, special lenticular printed badges, biometric identification like iris cameras, hard drive location tracking, files indecipherable to humans, rigorous redundancy, “robust fire detection and suppression capabilities” with data being automatically shifted to another data center in the event of any disruption, “video analytics, that are designed to automatically detect anomalies in the video and alert security staff to investigate further,” and in some cases, “sophisticated thermal imaging cameras that can identify potential intruders… using heat signatures,” allowing staff to monitor data centers under any conditions, with carts, jeeps and scooters for rapid response (with local law enforcement on-call). Then there’s the secrecy, with “additional safeguards… that we do not disclose publicly.” My favorite part, however, is the multi-step destruction process:

For hard drives that have reached the end of their life, Google has a destruction process that is designed to further ensure that none of the data on that drive can ever be accessed. The drives are destroyed in a multi-step process. One device that is used to destroy old hard drives is known as the crusher… A steel piston is pushed through the center of the drive, and the platters are deformed, making them unreadable. Another step in the process is the drive shredder…

Once drives have been sufficiently crushed and shredded, they are recycled. Watch the video for all the wonderful detail. The crushing starts around 3:30, but the whole video is interesting if you want to see how Google manages data behind the scenes.

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