In the industrial Canberra suburb of Fyshwick, there is an unmarked building that is the only privately owned facility in Australia trusted by the federal government to hold data marked “top secret”.
It looks like a factory from the outside, but inside Canberra Data Centres runs a temperature-controlled secure facility that houses computer servers on behalf of both government and private sector organisations.
When Business Insider visited Canberra Data Centres’ headquarters for Microsoft’s launch of its cloud into the nation’s capital, a startling admission was heard – government agents regularly try to break into the building.
“Funny things will happen like people will jump over your fence in the middle of the night to see what happens or they will come in here and try to bluff their way in,” CDC chief executive Greg Boorer told Business Insider.
To maintain its certification to hold “top secret” data, the government’s cybersecurity authority Australian Signals Directorate conducts a thorough review of the data centre each year. But in between audits, agents will test the facility’s defences with such unannounced shenanigans.
“It’s really fascinating. But it keeps us on our toes,” said Boorer.
Business Insider experienced first-hand the strict level of security. Even when the chief executive of the data centre took us for a tour, a guard accompanied us at all times to open doors and keep watch.
Although maintaining the top secret eligibility is an onerous process, Boorer is proud of the achievement and knows CDC earns a lot of public sector business because most government agencies hold a mixture of data with different levels of sensitivity.
“We have lots and lots of clients that have lots of unclassified data, a bit of protected or a lot of protected [middle sensitivity data], and a little bit or a lot of secret.
“So what we’ve done is created all our facilities for the highest level and that creates a wonderful halo effect which then enables us to quite comfortably and easily accommodate secret, protected and unclassified.”