I've got an 8U 19-inch server rack cabinet with two locks - one on the front panel, one on the rear panel. The locks are small cam locks, but the cam part is rather thin and flimsy-looking.

Cam Lock

I could easily break them open in a couple of seconds with a crowbar. Even worse, I can use a pair of pliers and a screwdriver to open them, by twisting the centre pin and pushing the inner plate down.

How can I add extra physical security to the rack, without buying a new one? I'm primarily worried about someone stealing my hardware, especially the drives. It's in my house, so I can't do much in the way of physical protection on the room. My primary threat would be a burglar with lock picking experience, or a crowbar.

A few specs on the rack:

  • 8U standard 19" rack
  • Side panels are 1.6mm steel
  • Top and bottom panels are 2mm steel
  • Bottom panel has mounting holes for brackets which allow me to bolt the unit into the floor, to prevent theft of the entire rack.
  • Rear panel is 1.6mm steel with a few holes at the bottom for cabling, and angled slats for airflow. Locked with a cam lock.
  • Front panel is toughened glass, with 1.6mm steel frame. The glass looks like it's actually two panes with a wire grid inside it. Locked with a cam lock.
  • With the front panel locked, they can't get the servers out. Major problem here is that if a burglar smashes the glass, they can reach in and rotate the cam, unlocking the front panel.

I have power tools available, so I can drill holes in the rack for attachments if necessary.

Any ideas?

  • 1
    If a burglar is really after the stuff in your rack at home that bad, I think he would probably just bring a van and haul the whole thing out in one piece. He'll worry about getting into it when he has it back on his turf.
    – Iszi
    Aug 17, 2012 at 16:13
  • It might also be useful to include a link to your rack's product description so we can see specs & pics from the manufacturer.
    – Iszi
    Aug 17, 2012 at 16:18
  • 2
    Burglars, particularly in home theft, don't use lock picks. They use crowbars, bricks, and baseball bats.
    – Scott Pack
    Aug 17, 2012 at 16:28
  • Whoops, I forgot to include a few bits. I can bolt the rack to the floor, and I meant to include crowbars in my "expected attacker" scenario. I'll edit.
    – Polynomial
    Aug 18, 2012 at 9:11
  • @Iszi Sadly, I don't have the manual for it. I don't even know who manufacturered it - there's no markings at all. I got it second hand from a DC that was moving premises. It may well have been a custom job. I had to do all of the thickness measurements myself.
    – Polynomial
    Aug 18, 2012 at 9:15

3 Answers 3


Your server rack should only be a small component of your overall security. Ideally, your supplemental security arrangement (such as the staff at a data center) should handle the heavy-lifting of keeping intruders out of your rack.

Ideally, the physical security on your rack should make intrusion slow, noisy, difficult-to-plan, and embarrassingly public.

To get a little supplemental security on your front door, I'd suggest adding a simple padlock (or two) to the door. You'd have to work with the measurements, but the hardware can be purchased pretty cheaply at a hardware store, and it's a fairly clean addition.

Also, if you're worried about the glass, you may consider replacing the door with a metal one. In general, these components are modular making it simple to replace just a component without replacing the whole rack.

Master Lock

  • I've got a rivet gun and some epoxy, as well as a drill that'll go through the metal. Should be enough to securely attach such brackets. I'll take a look around for an appropriate lock.
    – Polynomial
    Aug 19, 2012 at 19:52
  • 1
    Managed to attach some brackets and fit a nice chunky lock. Nice one.
    – Polynomial
    Sep 10, 2012 at 14:36
  • 1
    This is a good answer but the brand of padlock pictured has an extremely poor reputation. Apr 16, 2018 at 16:42

In a home/small office setting:

One thing you can add is to anchor the rack to the floor. Also use Kensingtons to secure your hardware to the Anchor or the rack frame. Use front panels for your servers (these can be locked picked in under a minute if you are handy though) and consider putting a chain around your rack so the door can't be opened (padlock secured).

While this may seem weaker (considering you have a locked rack with steel panels), it is just a cheap and extra layer to slow a burglar down.

In the end physical security like locks and anchors can only slow down an attacker so much.

You might also consider putting the rack in a locked room and/or install an alarm system.


If you are on a too low budget to afford alarms, you might try to attach disk-brake burglar alarms for motorbikes to the rack, they are cheap (30 euros) but they can make a very very loud noise for a long period of time. They detect vibration (when you open the door when it's armed or when someone is fiddling with it)

  • definitely a +1 for the 'slow the attacker down' concept.This is what safes in banks have - the only decision you need to make is how much you are willing to spend to slow them down. The trade off is down to your risk appetite.
    – Rory Alsop
    Aug 18, 2012 at 9:16

Depending on the level of physical security you're wanting to achieve, you should really go for a layered approach. Something like this:

  • harden the physical security of your house/apartment
  • harden the physical security of your cabinet
  • harden the physical security of individual cases and enclosures

The idea is to slow down the attack, as mentioned by Lucas Kauffman, on this page. Also, the idea of hardening the individual cases and enclosures is slightly different. You should assume a burglar is going to transport these away and attack them at his leisure someplace else. But slowing down that phase of the attack buys you time to detect the burglary of your cabinet, and buys you time to recover from the theft of your data (change account passwords, warn your users, whatever).

Also, you can employ other deterrents, like a cabinet door alarm, also mentioned by by Lucas Kauffman. Another deterrent is a security camera pointing right at the cabinet, or two cameras, with one of them conspicuously pointing at the face of anyone approaching the cabinet. The more conspicuous the camera(s), the more of a front line deterrent it/they can be. Of course, you'll want the images and/or videos immediately transmitted off-site (in case the DVR is stolen), which some security systems can do. If you're on Mac OS X, I can enthusiastically recommend Security Spy software.

  • The cabinet is in a room that makes it difficult to secure, but I do have CCTV on the house. The unit itself is now bolted to the floor, I just need a way to secure the cabinet itself. I'd rather not point CCTV at the cabinet due to which room it's in.
    – Polynomial
    Aug 20, 2012 at 6:00

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