Archive for June, 2011
Environmental Controls

Dealing with environment controls is the tax audit/turn & cough physical of information system assurance! Itís a necessary evil that is sometimes ignored until catastrophic failure has come and gone.

Environment controls have to do with ensuring the area surrounding the information systems is at an acceptable temperature & humidity. Its all fun and games until your critical information system is down because an air conditioning unit went out over the weekend and caused you to lose a mission essential function. This actually happened to an organization that I worked for.

Our system was operating on a location that had weekly power outages. There was a pretty good generator system designed to automatically turn on after a few seconds of loss of commercial power. Any system that was not plugged into an UPS would of course lose power during the transition. All of our mission essential functions were backed up by UPS systems, but the air conditioning unit was not. The air condition unit was plugged into commercial power so it would be rebooted every power outage.

The problem was that every time it was turned off abruptly it had to be reset to a temperature that was acceptable for the information system components of the mission essential functions. This was tolerable when employees were on duty, but not good when everyone was gone over a long holiday/weekend.

One long holiday/weekend the main power took a hit and the A/C unit was rebooted. The loss of this critical environmental control cause the room to reach over 90 degrees. The ambient temperature of the room rose quickly due to the heat coming from all the machines in such a small room. The temperature was enough to cause more than one system to go down. Luckily, all we last was on hard drive and a testing system.

Here are some other environment related equipment (and tasks) needed for most information systems:


AC Unit (with automatic temperature controls)
Information system have an optimal operating temperature. If certain equipment gets above or or below a certain temperature, they will not be able to perform as they were designed and the result can be loss of availability of data, loss of functionality and/or loss of business/mission essential functions. The way to keep the temperature with a range that is best for the system is some sort of automatic temperature controls unit or HVAC (Heating, Ventilation, and Air Conditioning). The staff and/or facility managers should be capable of operating the temperature control system.


Humidity controls
Too much moisture in the air can cause condensation on equipment which in turn can cause corrosion or electrical faults is eliminated. If humidity is too low, there can be an issue with static electric with can destroy small electronic components. Humidifier, dehumidifiers and hygrometers are tools that can be used to control or measure the humidity of an equipment room.

UPS
Uninterrupted Power Supply (UPS) is designed to give power to systems long enough to allow them to be shutdown gracefully. An abrupt loss of power can destroy the moving parts with information systems (i.e. IDE, SATA and SCSI hard drives) and also cause data corruption (loss of data integrity). UPS systems also protect systems from the occasional voltage spike, surge and brown outs that can adversely affect an information system.


Fire suppress system (automatically alerts fire department)
Regular fire inspections (fire extinguishers)

To minimize the damage and potential loss of life that occur with fires its important to have a modern fire suppression system with an method of automatically alerting the fire department. Any organization that is serious about the safety of its workers should have fire inspections by an actual fire chief (or equivalent) and ensure that fire extinguishers are ready to go.


Water Detection & Flood Detection

For information system in facilities that are in flood zones, below sea level on any sort of area susceptible to any threat of flooding, its important to have some sort of water level sensor (aka water sensor alarm, water level control, liquid level switch, water leak detection). The idea is that a certain level of liquid in an equipment room will be detected and reported before it was able to damage critical equipment.

Emergency Power Off Switch

Most server rooms have a large red button next to the entrance. This button is the emergency power off switch. Its purpose is the immediately shut off all power in the even of an emergency.

Like any information assurance or security controls, evironmental controls are not put in place to stop threats, only mitigate the risks associated with them.

10:48pm

Its going to be a loooooong night.

Open Letter to CLT Airport

You got a million customers and three freakin’ outlets.

News Flash:† It is the year 20XX, get more outlets!

What is with spandex pants in the airport? I am not complaining just wonder what’s the deal with it?

Seizure At the Mall

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16 Jun. 11, 17:45, Colorado Springs, A lady just had a siezure at the Citadel mall.† An employee from Ruby Tuesday and I, assisted her. We just made sure she didn’t bump her head or cause serious injury to herself.

The EMTs arrived and took over.† Hope she is ok.†

What amazes me is how people were just standing around staring.† Sheeple.

N carefree & new center accident

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6 car crash at North Carefree & New Center at about 1pm, 15 Jun.