Study: Virtual Boxes Aren't Locked Up Tight Enough

Virtualization has come to be the hot pick for consolidating and cutting hardware costs. All those machines within machines raise questions about the safety of what's inside, though, and according to a recent study, some are seriously lacking in good answers.

The analysts at Gartner have been pondering virtualization lately, with particular emphasis on how migration affects security. According to their research, that effect is considerable: They estimate that some sixty percent of virtual servers are less secure than the original boxes.

How could such a situation arise? Several ways, it turns out.

Topping the list is poor planning, though not necessarily the way one would think. Many teams, they say, fall victim to the assumption that "nothing has changed" — the new virtualize machine does exactly what the old one did. However, a well-thought-out security strategy that worked on the old machine doesn't necessarily take into account all the elements introduced by the virtualization environment.

Compounding the lack of pre-planning are the actual vulnerabilities themselves. According to Gartner, the virtualization layer should be treated "as the most critical x86 platform in the enterprise data center," keeping it "as thin as possible, while hardening the configuration to unauthorized changes." They go on to note that "Above all, organizations should not rely on host-based security controls to detect a compromise or protect anything running below it."

Gartner also pointed to issues between separate machines running on the same host as key vulnerabilities, particularly where multiple permission layers are involved. Though the company believes only forty percent of machines are currently secure, they estimate that percentage will reach seventy by 2015.

Image courtesy of John Seb Barber.

______________________

Justin Ryan is a Contributing Editor for Linux Journal.

White Paper
Linux Management with Red Hat Satellite: Measuring Business Impact and ROI

Linux has become a key foundation for supporting today's rapidly growing IT environments. Linux is being used to deploy business applications and databases, trading on its reputation as a low-cost operating environment. For many IT organizations, Linux is a mainstay for deploying Web servers and has evolved from handling basic file, print, and utility workloads to running mission-critical applications and databases, physically, virtually, and in the cloud. As Linux grows in importance in terms of value to the business, managing Linux environments to high standards of service quality — availability, security, and performance — becomes an essential requirement for business success.

Learn More

Sponsored by Red Hat

White Paper
Private PaaS for the Agile Enterprise

If you already use virtualized infrastructure, you are well on your way to leveraging the power of the cloud. Virtualization offers the promise of limitless resources, but how do you manage that scalability when your DevOps team doesn’t scale? In today’s hypercompetitive markets, fast results can make a difference between leading the pack vs. obsolescence. Organizations need more benefits from cloud computing than just raw resources. They need agility, flexibility, convenience, ROI, and control.

Stackato private Platform-as-a-Service technology from ActiveState extends your private cloud infrastructure by creating a private PaaS to provide on-demand availability, flexibility, control, and ultimately, faster time-to-market for your enterprise.

Learn More

Sponsored by ActiveState