USA National Security Agency (NSA) is keeping an eye on the internet and telephonic activity of its populace from its world’s largest UTAH data center since 2013. Well, technically speaking the spying activity in the name of national security was taking place after 9/11 attacks in 2001. But it was revealed to the world in July 2013 when a former contractor Edward Snowden (now tainted) of NSA spilled the beans to the media.
Moving on further, when we speak about a data center and the level at which data is being stored on its platform; the very first thought which comes to our mind is its security. No matter who owns the data center, how much data it hosts, how costly the equipment is and where in the world it is; the very first trait it has to have is utmost security at physical and virtual level.
Security in server farms is very much vital as it adds value to the entire objective of having a data center. Now imagine, what if a data center hosting around a Yottabytes (1 trillion terabytes) of data gets hacked?
Yes, you heard it right! US NSA data center located in UTAH is the only data center in the world which hosts around 1.2 Yottabytes of data stored in its database. Spread in a 100,000 square feet , the said data center which is 1.5 billion worth is having water treatment facilities, visitor control centers, chiller plants, electric substation, fire pump house, warehouse, vehicle inspection facility and sixty diesel fueled emergency standby generators and fuel facility which can backup the entire data center for 3 days with 100% power backup capabilities.
According to a press release from Utah Data Center, the facility is massively powered by two parallel Cray XC30 super computers which are capable of scaling high performance computing workloads of more than 100 Petaflops or 100,000 trillion calculations per second. Code-named “Cascade”, the two behemoths were developed in conjunction with the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA) to meet the demanding needs of the Intelligence Community.
Now, coming to this article’s heading related news, according to NSA director Admiral Michael S Rogers’s media interaction on August 30th, 2015, it is almost impossible to break into the data center of UTAH digitally. It is due to the fact that the data center’s data access is highly protected with advanced 256-bit encryption standard called cryptanalysis targeting which was specifically developed for UTAH data center based on the commercially available 256-bit AES algorithm.
Computer experts have estimated that it would take longer than the age of the universe for the hackers to break the code using a trial-and-error brute force attack with today’s computing technology.
Note- Utah data center of NSA collects data such as websites visits, internet searches, phones calls, Skype calls, emails, text messages, credit card info, financial info, legal documents, travel documents and health records and sends the data accordingly to applications like data warehouse, surveillance and monitoring, suspicious activity reporting, and terrorist screening center alert. The data is accessed by these applications on daily or weekly note and is later stored and archived for a couple of years.