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Data Center, Server & Storage Solutions

Fire alarm downs server

Hard drives respond sensitively to external influences. Noise can also destroy them, as revealed recently by an incident at Swedish data center Digiplex. There a loud fire alarm downed servers, compromising banks and even the Nasdaq stock exchange.

09 May. 2018 David Schahinian
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As first reported by bleepingcomputer.com , a gas-based fire alarm system frequently used in data centers went off at Digiplex in the early morning of April 19, 2018. The loud whistle that accompanied the release of the gas caused around a third of the servers to shut down. According to the report, the shutdown affected Finnish banks and Nasdaq Nordic, which operates its own devices at the data center. That morning the company was unable to begin trading in parts of northern Europe and was forced to import new servers, due to a lack of them in Sweden.

A similar incident took place in 2016: Back then, heise.de reported a server failure at a data center at the Romanian subsidiary of ING Bank. While testing the fire alarm system, a loud bang from the gas cartridges caused the damage, which took ten hours to repair. "Hard disks respond badly to vibrations," reports Oliver Nickel at golem.de . The fire alarm in Sweden likely caused the magnetic disks to vibrate so strongly that they were destroyed. Any movement could damage the highly compact technology – even movement generated by sound waves. Late last year, Winfuture.de issued a warning based on a US study that attackers could take advantage of this.

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