Mantraps are a common physical security method implemented in facilities and buildings which are trying to restrict foot traffic to sensitive areas.  Data centers are no exception.  While adding a mantrap to a data center does provide benefits, there are also potential drawbacks to consider.  With the growing number of physical security strategies which have become standard, many people are wondering if mantraps should be considered a standard security measure as well.

What Is a Mantrap?

A mantrap is a small room designed specifically to trap anyone who enters it before they enter a secure area of a data center.  The trap allows security to verify the credentials of the person trying to enter.  Upon verification of their credentials, they are allowed access.  If they are deemed to be in an authorized person, some type of alert or alarm will be triggered.  In most cases, a mantrap is little more than a small room with two or more doors and a set of authentication procedures at each door.
Mantrap data center

How Does a Mantrap Provide Security?

The primary purpose of mantraps in data centers is to eliminate piggybacking or tailgating into secure areas.  This gives data centers increased access control and allows them to carefully screen each entrant before allowing or denying access.  While most data centers implement multiple methods of minimizing piggybacking and tailgating, mantraps are consistently the most effective solution.

What Challenges Does a Mantrap Present?

While a mantrap is ineffective physical security tool, it does have some limitations and challenges data centers must consider before utilizing them.  The most notable challenge of a mantrap is guaranteeing that only one person is in it at any given time.  If a security guard is used to check credentials and allow access, this challenge is easy to overcome.  The larger problem is finding an effective way to perform this task automatically.
Mantrap Enhance Data security
Over the years, a variety of different approaches have been taken to perform this task manually.  The technologies utilized range from infrared sensors which count the number of entrants to pressure maps and video analytics.  Unfortunately, all of these approaches are limited in their effectiveness and quickly become an inconvenience.  For example, if someone is bringing in a large item into the mantrap, pressure maps and being brake systems often interpret the additional item as a second individual which triggers an alert.  While more advanced systems have been developed, they are noticeably more expensive to install and maintain.

Safety Concerns of Implementing a Mantrap

There is also one significant safety concern which must be addressed.  In the event of a fire or other disaster which requires evacuation, mantraps must allow individuals to exit quickly without triggering an alarm.

Does Every Data Center Need a Mantrap?

While a mantrap can be an extremely effective physical security tool, it is not designed to be implemented in every data center.  For example, if a data center faces minimal physical threats then implementing a mantrap could be considered overkill and an unnecessary additional expense.  On the other hand, if security is the highest priority then a mantrap is an ideal additional layer of security.

For the last four years Jonathon Fuller has been writing about data storage and security. He believes using colocation such as a Data Center is a wise choice for many businesses. The Austin Data Center he reccommends can be found at