Data centers are like modern day treasure chests. Companies use them to store valuable pieces of information in a safe, consolidated environment. Ideally, these companies are the only ones with access to the trove of information, which can include names, addresses, passwords, bank accounts, social security numbers and other restricted data. Unfortunately, the precious contents also make data centers a target for individuals looking for a fast reward.

Different data centers are vulnerable for different reasons. Big ones have more to keep track of and more employees, increasing the chances of a breach. Small centers might have more trouble allocating the resources to support themselves and opt to neglect adequate security measures. Most data centers have important information hidden within – especially those for health care and insurance companies and banks – that could prove irresistible for thieves. But all of them share the need for cutting edge security measures like biometric access control.

Biometric technology uses an individual's unique physical characteristics to allow access to sensitive information, thereby making it virtually impossible to breach. For example, a fingerprint reader programmed to accept only specific patterns negates the use of a key or password and can be used from the front door to the server cabinet. No data center should skimp on security and risk compromising their own and their clients' information.

University of Pittsburgh to establish Big Data center
The National Institutes of Health offered the University of Pittsburgh and its partners – Carnegie Mellon University, the Pittsburgh Supercomputing Center and Yale – an $11 million grant to set up a Big Data to Knowledge Center of Excellence, reported the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette. The center will be one of 12 similar establishments nationwide.

National Institutes of Health Director Francis Collins indicated the need for the installations as a means of conducting research, developing drugs, analyzing data and maintaining medical records. By 2020, the network's overall fund – which now sits at $32 million – will expand to $600 million.

"Individual biomedical researchers now have the technology to generate an enormous quantity and diversity of data. Adequately analyzing these data to discover new biomedical knowledge remains a major challenge, however," Dr. Gregory Cooper, professor and vice chairman of the department of biomedical informatics in the Pitt School of Medicine, told the Post-Gazette. "Our goal is to make it much easier for researchers to analyze big data to discover causal relationships in biomedicine."

As the new centers will house data that is not only sensitive, but essential for the development of new cures and drugs, a breach would be devastating. To avoid that problematic scenario, the National Institutes of Health would be wise to adopt a biometric security approach. Such a platform would keep the vital data from becoming compromised, even unintentionally.

Bitcoin and Dell to open colocation center
Data centers holding healthcare records are not the only ones with important information within their servers. Dell and Bitcoin ASIC Hosting opened a data center for Bitcoin creators in Quincy, Washington, according to Data Center Dynamics. Bitcoin creation or "mining" requires a constant, high-level output from servers.

Because Bitcoin data centers are almost always up and running, offering constant access to the virtual currency, security is of the utmost importance. Bitcoins have real value and their transactions are entirely virtual, so they offer a tantalizing bounty for thieves. By incorporating biometric technology, data centers that deal in Bitcoins can secure their server racks much in the same way banks use state-of-the-art locking mechanisms on their safes.

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