Cabling experts suggest FAA fire is the tip of the sabotage iceberg

A six-month-old blog post and a recent conference presentation discussed the perils of unchecked access to critical infrastructure.

Would you trust these men to protect your data center or telecom room from saboteurs looking to harm your cabling or other IT assets? More importantly, would you trust these men to work inside those spaces?
Would you trust these men to protect your data center or telecom room from saboteurs looking to harm your cabling or other IT assets? More importantly, would you trust these men to work inside those spaces?

The September 26 fire at the Federal Aviation Administration’s (FAA) Aurora, IL facility—a sabotage event that wreaked havoc on air travel for days—probably is just the proverbial “tip of the iceberg” as far as the damage that can be done, and is being done, by individuals with access to an organization’s vital and vulnerable IT equipment.

At the BICSI Fall Conference, Jerry L. Bowman—a member of the board of directors of the InfraGard National Members Alliance (INMA)—made reference to the FAA fire in his presentation titled “Security and the Data Center: 4 Trends that Could Change Everything.” Bowman was appointed to the INMA’s board of directors earlier this year. Likely based on some of the insight he has gained from that position, he made the comment during his presentation that it’s reasonable to believe two incidents similar to the FAA sabotage happen each week in the United States. Not every incident gains the publicity of the FAA fire because most such manmade disasters affect private companies and fewer people.

The professionals at Concert Technologies might have seen this incident—or at least something like it—coming for some time. Concert, the D.C.-area-based technology rollout company, launched the RiserSafe program to help organizations defend against the potentially disastrous effects of unsecured access to cabling, networking and other IT equipment.

In March 2014 Concert posted an item to its blog, titled “Destroyed in 60 Seconds: Riser Closets Offer Easy Target for Disgruntled Building Tenants to do Damage.” The post asks: “How quickly can a disgruntled building tenant cause major damage to a building’s infrastructure?” It then answers: “The ease with which building sabotage can occur is astounding and only takes seconds. In years past the ability for such catastrophic destruction was fairly limited, but today’s technology offers soft targets, and one of those targets consists of a building’s riser closet and the IT infrastructure within. These assaults result in thousands of dollars of damage and limitless harm to building leadership’s reputation, not to mention the loss of tenant’s vital IT services … It only takes one of your angry tenants or disgruntled employees with access to a riser closet to wipe out service, business, and privacy. Managing access to riser closets is key to preventing a quick cut to operations and building functions.”

You can read Concert Technologies’ full blog post here.

You can view and download a copy of Jerry Bowman’s presentation from the BICSI Fall Conference 2014 here.

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