Carbonite Data Center: Security, Encryption and Redundancy

by Lynnette Nolan | Jun 05, 2008

Several people have asked me to post a description of our infrastructure. As I mentioned in my previous post about HP’s infrastructure difficulties, "HP Upline and the challenge of large scale backup," keeping billions of files safe is no small task.

The first thing you should know about our architecture is that we never handle unencrypted data. Carbonite encrypts all files before they leave your PC. We use 128-bit Blowfish encryption. I’ve been told that Blowfish has never been cracked. It is the strongest commercial encryption on the market.

Carbonite employs the most sophisticated firewalls and intrusion detection systems available. We pay a professional hacker firm to attack the data center constantly, looking for security holes. I think our defenses are as good as most banks. Heise Security recently wrote about how they hacked into many of our competitors’ backup systems but were unable to hack into Carbonite Their so-called “Man-In-The-Middle” test attack is something we designed against from the beginning. Frankly, I was amazed that most of the other vendors were so easily hacked by these guys and backed up files either compromised or deleted.

At our secure data center, your data is stored on arrays of 1-terabyte enterprise-grade drives. Carbonite uses RAID-6 redundant arrays which spread copies of the data across multiple hard drives. Each array has 16 drives. Three of the 16 would have to fail simultaneously and the user’s PC would have to crash at the same time before any data would be lost. These RAID-6 arrays are 36,000,000 times more reliable than the hard drive in your computer. We have redundant power, redundant Internet connections, redundant Web servers and so forth. The data center is guarded 24 hours a day, seven days a week; and admission is controlled by fingerprint ID locks.

As you can imagine, we use a lot of bandwidth. We currently back up over 40 million new files every day and we have over 7 billion already backed up. Given the amount of bandwidth we use, it’s best to be located in a major telecoms center where multiple carriers converge. Therefore, we chose to build our data center in one of those so-called “bomb-proof” buildings with all the major Boston financial institutions and telcos.

CEO, Carbonite