Q&A: Virtualization Security
by Mirko Zorz - Wednesday, 10 September 2008.
What should an administrator take into consideration before deploying server virtualization in the enterprise?

Administrators should follow two practices to help mitigate the security risks associated with server virtualization. First, administrators should ensure that virtualization projects follow at least the same processes and procedures as are in place for traditional servers and PCs. This will ensure that new servers are not commissioned without reason and without the “correct” software and access controls being set. Second, investigate solutions that offer cross-platform virtual security to ensure that a centrally-managed security mechanism stays persistent as virtual and physical machines move across a mixed data center. By following core security procedures and protecting against inter-VM communications with cross-platform virtual security, administrators will be well covered.

A number of vulnerabilities have been discovered in virtualization software yet there have not been serious attacks to date. In your opinion, can we expect real problems in the near future?

Software is software. To say there will never be any real problems is to be naïve. That being said, hypervisors offer very small attack surface areas because they have far fewer lines of code to attack. At some point you’ll probably have vulnerability, but if you put that in context with the real threats out there, with regard to inter-VM communications, you’re far better off to focus on the latter.

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