Deep Note: Can Acoustic Interference Damage the Availability of Hard Disk Storage in Underwater Data Centers?


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The growing worldwide attention toward large-scale subsea data centers has garnered substantial interest from commercial entities which have built and deployed underwater prototypes since 2015. These data centers utilize hard disk drives (HDDs) as a cost-effective method of data storage. However, researchers have demonstrated that acoustic waves can affect the availability and integrity of HDDs and applications that rely on them. These studies are all conducted in air on commercial laptops, hence their applicability and implications in submerged environments remain unexplored. In this position paper, we investigate potential vulnerabilities of storage devices deployed in underwater data centers and subsea storage platforms against targeted acoustic attacks. Based on our initial investigation of a simplified scenario, a victim HDD deployed in an enclosed submerged container is especially vulnerable to those acoustic attacks, which at frequencies ranging from 300 Hz 1300 Hz can result in up to 100% throughput loss and application crashes. Based on these findings, we argue that further study is necessary to assess underwater storage system security and develop effective defenses against overlooked acoustic attacks.
Hardware attacks, Storage security, Underwater data center
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