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VISA's top-secret data fortress

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posted on Mar, 26 2012 @ 02:42 PM
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Information is bigger business than ever, and the line between information and money is blurring. Ways of protecting and stealing/corrupting information are both growing more sophisticated, but the VISA data center seems to take the game to a whole new level.



Prisons are easier to enter than Visa’s top-secret Operations Center East, its biggest, newest and most advanced U.S. data center.

The 8-acre facility looks like any other industrial park in a sleepy suburb. But the serene setting masks hundreds of cameras and a crack team of former military personnel. Hydraulic bollards beneath the road leading to the OCE can be quickly raised to stop an intruding car going 50 mph. Any speed faster, and the car can’t navigate a hairpin turn, sending it into a drainage pond that functions as a modern-day moat.

The data center resembles a fortress, with dogged attention to detail. It can withstand earthquakes and hurricane-force winds of up to 170 mph. A 1.5-million-gallon storage tank cools the system. Diesel generators onsite have enough power, in the event of an outage, to keep the center running for nine days. They generate enough electricity for 25,000 households.

Once you get clearance from a guard station, get an OK from a roving security guy in a golf cart, and surrender a photo and fingerprint inside, the adventure begins.

There are plenty of reasons for the airtight security. Billions, in fact.

In an era when mobile purchases on smartphones and tablets are expected to grow 73% to $11.6 billion in the U.S. this year, security is a necessary obsession at OCE — and an acknowledgment of the perils posed by profit-minded hackers.

Mobile payments are just a trickle of the more than 200 million daily transactions processed here and at one other Visa data center in North America.

“We’re at the forefront of data centers,” says Rick Knight, head of global systems operations and engineering. “Now everyone has to do it.”

Source: USA Today

The thing even has a moat. A moat!

This is maybe the most impressive information security setup I've ever read about, and it highlights the complex intersection of security, power/money, information, survalience, and paranoia that is increasingly defining society today.




posted on Mar, 26 2012 @ 02:51 PM
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Anyone know the Latitude and Longitude for this VISA site? I wanna see the moat

edit on 3/26/1212 by Hawkeyes because: (no reason given)



posted on Mar, 26 2012 @ 02:54 PM
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reply to post by Hawkeyes
 



39° 2'56.55"N 77°26'43.96"W


45005 Russell Branch Pkwy Ashburn, VA 20147

Not so top secret anymore


There is no "moat" encircling the site. Just a drainage pond. Apparently they can raise the entrance road and force you into a dead end. The dead end leads to the drainage pond.
edit on 26-3-2012 by METACOMET because: pp



posted on Mar, 26 2012 @ 03:02 PM
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Originally posted by Hawkeyes
Anyone know the Latitude and Longitude for this VISA site? I wanna see the moat

edit on 3/26/1212 by Hawkeyes because: (no reason given)



Originally posted by METACOMET
reply to post by Hawkeyes
 
39° 2'56.55"N 77°26'43.96"W
45005 Russell Branch Pkwy Ashburn, VA 20147


And here we are:




Originally posted by METACOMET
There is no "moat" encircling the site. Just a drainage pond. Apparently they can raise the entrance road and force you into a dead end. The dead end leads to the drainage pond.
edit on 26-3-2012 by METACOMET because: pp


Well, the article calls it "a drainage pond that functions as a modern-day moat." Perhaps a bit of journalistic liberty, but it seems like the data center thinks of it as a moat, anyway.
edit on 3/26/2012 by silent thunder because: (no reason given)



posted on Mar, 26 2012 @ 05:38 PM
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reply to post by silent thunder
 


OK. Question: Does anyone understand the 4-monitor workstation design seen here? I can understand dual-monitor workstations for something like web design where you have the web page on one and the program you are using to program the site, such as Dreamweaver, on the other. But 4????


edit on 3/26/2012 by schuyler because: (no reason given)



posted on Mar, 26 2012 @ 05:40 PM
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Originally posted by schuyler
reply to post by silent thunder
 


OK. Question: Does anyone understand the 4-monitor workstation design seen here? I can understand dual-minitor workstations for something like web design where you have the web page on one and the program you are using to program the site, such as Dreamweaver, on the other. But 4????



I use a four-monitor setup, actually, but its because I spend a lot of time on the markets. Pretty much I have forex and market stuff going 24-7 on the two big screens and I have two smaller screens, one for random intertoobs stuff (including ATS) and the other for research. If you are multitasking a lot or involved in trading/finance its really very very helpful.

If you are doing anything involving long lists, charts, or graphs, where you have to swich repeatedly back and forth between tasks, it saves a lot of time and beats the heck out of tabbed browsing.

edit on 3/26/2012 by silent thunder because: (no reason given)



posted on Mar, 26 2012 @ 07:25 PM
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reply to post by silent thunder
 


Looks like a castle with a flag sticking out of it....like in the First Super Mario Bros. game for NES.

Am I the only one who sees this ?

And the picture of the room they show looks like something out of a movie like Independence day or a spy film or something.

Imagine Lan gaming there..lol



posted on Mar, 26 2012 @ 07:43 PM
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Interesting. The big screens appear to be USA w/ time zone and transactions, and to the right, maybe Service Watch and band width meters.



posted on Mar, 26 2012 @ 07:46 PM
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if the SHTF in our life times, these kinds of places are going to be the setting of future stories no doubt.



posted on Mar, 26 2012 @ 08:10 PM
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reply to post by silent thunder
 


Just looking at the picture one has to laugh. That's a lot of crap to monitor funny money that never existed. All would be wasted with one X-10 Solar flare or one EMP over the area.

I still know the U.S. Federal Reserve clowns still have one of these hidden in a bunker, monitoring every transaction in the U.S. and I am sure the world when it comes down to it. That one would be hardened from an EMP , Natural or not.

At&t still has a secure hardened communications system below ground all over the U.S. thankfully. Some older sites have been retired but that is just do to new systems. A friend of mine lives just down the street from one. Retired bunker but they still have guards roaming around.



posted on Mar, 26 2012 @ 09:06 PM
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All the hackers on here will know what I mean when I say "The bigger the piece of cheese, the more holes that are in it.". They are connected to the internet, they are just as vulnerable as any other group of servers.



posted on Mar, 26 2012 @ 09:30 PM
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Originally posted by Captain Beyond
All the hackers on here will know what I mean when I say "The bigger the piece of cheese, the more holes that are in it.". They are connected to the internet, they are just as vulnerable as any other group of servers.


That's not Swiss cheese my friend, it's rock solid American cheese.

Good luck finding the holes in that system. Their processing center doesn't get "hacked" in the way you are thinking, it's not a website, and I guarantee you that nobody allowed to work in that office has any kind of outbound internet access.

~Namaste



posted on Mar, 26 2012 @ 09:45 PM
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No ladies?

Boring place to work then


Seriously, I see no women there, nor any accoutrements that go with em lol



I enjoyed the above comment about the whole thing being dedicated to funny money. It all seems such a waste of resources. How much money do they spend on a place like that, that could be put to awesome use making the world a better place?



posted on Mar, 26 2012 @ 09:46 PM
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Originally posted by SonOfTheLawOfOne

Originally posted by Captain Beyond
All the hackers on here will know what I mean when I say "The bigger the piece of cheese, the more holes that are in it.". They are connected to the internet, they are just as vulnerable as any other group of servers.


That's not Swiss cheese my friend, it's rock solid American cheese.

Good luck finding the holes in that system. Their processing center doesn't get "hacked" in the way you are thinking, it's not a website, and I guarantee you that nobody allowed to work in that office has any kind of outbound internet access.

~Namaste


If it's a closed LAN, then you would be correct sir. But if there is a "gateway" to the internet, they are vulnerable!
I have worked on LAN systems with pressurized conduit to detect intrusions, this type of LAN cannot be compromised from the outside. There were absolutely no connections to any external sources, or gateways. The only secure LAN.
edit on 26-3-2012 by Captain Beyond because: (no reason given)



posted on Mar, 26 2012 @ 10:09 PM
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A couple Months ago we had a customer close their doors. He went to visa and filed non-authorization claims against all venders he had received orders from for the previous month. we submitted all the necessary documents showing that the customer placed the orders online, tracking that he received and signed for the orders. Even his IP address which he had used on his previous eight months of orders. Also all transactions were processed with Authorizations from him online.

We found out this week that VISA has a policy that if the card is not on site the charges can be considered fraudulent. I've yet to see the contract for myself but it's supposed to be on page 80.. 80 pages of terms of service....

I was told today by our bank that we could require all our customers to join a VISA program that covers us from this happening. Of course this program cost more money.



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