The Virtualization Practice

Author Archive for Edward Haletky

Edward Haletky
Edward HaletkyEdward L. Haletky, aka Texiwill, is the author of VMware vSphere(TM) and Virtual Infrastructure Security: Securing the Virtual Environment as well as VMware ESX and ESXi in the Enterprise: Planning Deployment of Virtualization Servers, 2nd Edition. Edward owns AstroArch Consulting, Inc., providing virtualization, security, network consulting and development and The Virtualization Practice where he is also an Analyst. Edward is the Moderator and Host of the Virtualization Security Podcast as well as a guru and moderator for the VMware Communities Forums, providing answers to security and configuration questions. Edward is working on new books on Virtualization. [All Papers/Publications...]

Whether you use replication as a means of disaster avoidance or disaster recovery, replication of your virtual environment between hot sites has always been a win. With current technology it is even possible to replicate to a replication receiver cloud which could provide a measure of business continuity as well. So who are the players and who provides what service, and how do they do it?

“The latest challenge on the security front isn’t necessarily an exotic new threat vector: it’s the attackers themselves. They’re organized, well-resourced and patient. And there’s no silver technology bullet to effectively combat them.”

This is a very important point, and one that I have seen at other security conferences for the last 5 years or so. However, attacks are possible because there is a lack of confidentiality and integrity of the data held within the systems under attack. So the system becomes the week point.

Agent and Agent-less Backup in the Virtual Environment

There is some debate amongst backup vendors on what defines an agent, some consider any amount of scripting to be an agent, while others imply it is what does the data transfer plus any amount of scripting necessary. Is there a need for both Agent and Agent-less within a virtual environment? This also begs the question, who is responsible for properly handling the application whose data you are backing up?

The week before VMworld on 8/25 was the Virtualization Security Podcast featuring Greg Ferro (@etherealmind), CCIE to discuss Cisco VM-FEX and its impact on virtualization and cloud security. VM-FEX is a method by which the fabric of a UCS top of rack switch is extended to the VM, but only if the VM is using VMDirectPath. So does this impact Virtualization and Cloud Security in any way?

If there was one thing I saw and heard about at VMworld, was the number of third party collaborations that were taking place. While not explicitly stated by VMware at VMworld, the show floor had many different collaborations that were taking place. This level of collaboration shows a level of maturity within the virtualization and cloud vendor ecosystems. A maturity, that shows that the vendors understand the benefits of leveraging other companies to lower their overall costs while producing better and more attractive products. Some of the collaborations I saw where purely the resale of products, while others were integrations between products.

VMware announced a loosely coupled group of vCloud providers that will use vCloud Connector to loosely couple their clouds, so that VMs can move from vCloud to vCloud without requiring you to renegotiate pricing, capability, and functionality with multiple cloud vendors, just your local one. This announcement is intriguing in that it is a move to push the cloud into the global space, but also fraught with peril if not done correctly.

More and more is coming out about the attack from a MacDonald’s that left an organization crippled for a bit of time. The final tally was that the recently fired employee was able to delete 15 VMs before either being caught or he gave up. On twitter, it was commented that the administrator must not have been a powershell programmer because in the time it takes to delete 15 VMs by hand, a powershell script could have removed 100s. Or perhaps the ‘Bad Actor’ was trying to not be discovered. In either case, this has prompted discussions across the twitter-sphere, blog-sphere, and within organizations about how to secure from such attacks.

Last week there was a bit of a surprise when someone announced Catbird Security made an agreement to purchase vShield App and only App from VMware. This left quite a few of us scratching our heads wondering why VMware would let this particular security software go. This announcement was incorrectly relayed and quite far from the truth. Catbird Security has written an agreement with VMware to OEM vShield App. This OEM agreement provides Catbird with a missing piece to the security puzzle as well as proving out VMware’s concept of virtualization security, that they should be the low level bits providing an API for higher level tools to use.

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