C&W ups already stringent security standards

Don’t let the nondescript appearance fool you: The gray, three-story Flow building on the corner of Eastern Avenue and Shedden Road is a crucial cog in Cayman’s economic engine.

As the endpoint for the island’s two subsea fiber cables, that building serves as the nexus for nearly the entire territory’s communications infrastructure. Moreover, the structure’s second floor is home to millions of dollars of equipment that stores untold amounts of information of some of Cayman’s largest trust companies, law firms, and other financial institutions – along with Flow’s own data.

With all that information to protect, Flow’s parent company, Cable & Wireless, constantly beefs up its security, with the latest upgrade coming last month when C&W announced its compliance with “ISO 27001” – a set of information security standards set by the Switzerland-based International Organization for Standardization.

While some may think of IT security as firewalls and other guards against cyberattacks, the ISO 27001 standards focus more on protecting the physical infrastructure that stores information, according to C&W Information and Communications Technology specialist Jeff Hart.

The new controls added to the facilities include upgraded CCTV technology, new cameras in certain areas, cages to protect the company’s cloud servers, and training for C&W employees on how to handle confidential information, he said.

These controls took about a year to fully implement, he said, and they add to what are already stringent security measures.

For starters, visitors are encountered by a security guard when they enter the building, which was specifically designed with data protection in mind – the information storage facilities were purposefully located on the second floor because the first floor posed the risk of flood damage and the third floor would yield problems if something happened to the building’s roof.

Those who want to visit the storage facilities have to sign in and be accompanied by a security guard. That would only happen if maintenance work needs done or if the company is providing a tour, as the floor is otherwise kept empty.

Once up there, visitors encounter bundles of wires and rows of metal cages protecting millions of dollars’ worth of equipment, all kept at a constant temperature and humidity level by dual air conditioning units, backed by generators in the case of a power failure.

If the fire alarm sounds on that floor, people are in danger from more than just flames: C&W regional architect Peter Spratt explained that rather than using sprinklers, the facility’s fire-suppression system drains the floor of oxygen to starve any potential blazes.

These protections and others are why C&W is in the tech research and advisory company Gartner Inc.’s “Magic Quadrant” with industry giants like Microsoft, IBM, and Cisco, said Mr. Hart.

For a territory that prides itself on keeping information secure and confidential, meeting such standards is a must, according to the ICT specialist.

“In a market like Cayman, where it’s heavily dense on financial services, organizations are looking for these certifications from a competitive point of view as well,” he said.

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