Five Ways To (Physically) Hack A Data Center

Many data centers contain easy-to-exploit physical vulnerabilities that don't require hacking into the network
But like any undercover work, social engineering can tax the professional social engineer's conscience. Jones says the toughest job he had was for an energy firm, where he had to get inside the utility for five days and grab as much data and gain as much access as possible. "So I tailgated in talking on my phone ... and no one ever questioned me," he says. He found an empty desk in a cubicle and plugged his laptop into the network jack.

"An older lady in the cube next to me asked, 'Is there something I can help you with?' and I said I was trying to get my laptop on the network, and that I was here for training."

The woman got IT support to come and connect Jones to the company's network. "She was a really sweet lady," he says, and they would chat regularly. "She knew I was leaving that Friday, so she brought me a plateful of homemade cookies and said she hoped I'd had a great time at the company. I felt so bad -- I had spent a week lying to 'my Grandma.'"

Jones says doors and windows installed with their hinges on the outside of the data center also are a common mistake; it takes a couple of seconds to pop a door or window off of its hinges if it's installed this way. "This is a construction problem. When people have these things built, they don't think about it," Jones says. "It shouldn't cost any extra money for the contractor to fix it. Or you can call your lesser" if the data center is in a leased space, he says.

Jones discussed some of these physical weaknesses in data centers at the Thotcon conference last month in Chicago. A copy of his slides from that presentation are available here (PDF).

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