Is a drone allowed to fly near a data center?

No, said Adam Ringle–a security and emergency services expert, delivering keynote at Data Center World Global conference held in Las Vegas on Monday this week. Most of the audiences who attended the conference were in support of his viewpoint and added that Drones are acting as privacy invaders these days and so their usage should be restricted on private and public entities.

Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) has seen its airspace regulation duties expand greatly after the explosion of drone usage. Ringle, who runs a security and emergency services consulting and training practices, said at the conference that data center operators need to educate themselves about the potential security threats Unmanned Aerial Systems (UAS) can pose to facilities they operate.

Explaining it with an instance, Ringer said that a $10,000 thermal camera attached to a drone can easily map what’s inside the server farm facility from the air using thermal imaging technology. According to him, the known and common drone threats are corporate espionage, contraband delivery, weaponized systems, delivery of hazardous materials or explosives, facility infiltration, hacking and spying, theft of data by snooping, privacy issues, airspace conflicts, accidents and mechanical failures.

“Like every technology has its own pros and cons, drone operations near data centers can also prove lethal. If data center managers are operating drones for security purposes, then they help in keeping the premises secure from intruders. But if an outsider flies a drone on the facility, then there is a high probability that he/she might have bad intentions in doing so,” said Mo Tahmasebi, CEO and President of DNF Defense, a Silicon Valley based company offering data storage solutions for Military and Defense sector.

Mo added that currently, the federal laws meant for drone operations are still shaping up. Some of the guidelines for consumer, commercial, and government operators of UAVs have been devised. There are also different rules for different types and sizes of drones. Data center operators can get familiar with the present rules and create policies accordingly for dealing with the unwelcoming flying visitors.

According to a new law formulated last year, any drone flying without a pilot on a data center is violating FAA rules. If you see the pilot, they are obligated to show the data center manager their FAA documentation on demand.

Few data centers like the one operated by NSA at UTAH have security programs in place to deal with unwanted drones. They have drones which can bring down an unwanted UAV by dropping a net onto it with weights, which disable the rotors.

Data centers are also allowed to take up NoFlyZone initiatives, where they can display boards showing the sign that the area is restricted for drones.

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