The Virtualization Security Podcast on 11/2 was quite a change from our normal podcast. Instead of featuring a vendor as a guest panelist, Gurusimran S Khalsa (known as GS) joined us. Our topic was getting started with virtualization security with a real world twist.
In the End-to-End Virtualization Security Whitepaper we review various aspects of server security with an eye to determining how the products would work together to create a secure virtual environment. While some of these tools are cross-platform, the vast majority of them are geared specifically to VMware vSphere.
In this post we will look at Server Security, and we will follow-up with another post about Desktop Security? Are these very different? I believe so, desktops have daily, second by second user interactions. For desktops, one of the most important aspects is look and feel such as response time for actions. So things need to be as fast as possible. With Servers however, user interactions are limited and therefore have slightly different performance and security requirements. What may be acceptable for a server may not be acceptable for a desktop. So what do the tools provide for servers?
There are now more players in the virtualization security product space. While at RSA Conference 2010 I walked the show floor in search of these vendors to discover what they were doing. While some vendors do not address virtualization security, the vast majority are either looking to do so or actually have a virtualization security product.
Have you ever wondered how all the virtualization security tools fit together? Wait no longer as we have a new White Paper that will tell you this information. How do products from Altor Networks, Catbird Security, Reflex Systems, HyTrust, Tripwire, and others fit within your virtual environment?
Cloud Computing ...
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Intrusion Protection Systems (IPS) differ quite a bit from Intrusion Detection Systems (IDS). An IPS is designed to modify some form of security setting when an intrusion is detected, thereby preventing the intrusion from being successful. An IDS on the other hand is just the detection component used by an IPS. Like all security tools used within a virtual environment there are four major ways to implement such devices. We will discuss later some best practices for managing a security tool. We will look at what is currently shipping over products hinted at for the future such as the OpenVSwitch, Xen Instropection API.
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The known virtualization security vendors Reflex Systems, Catbird Security, Altor Networks, HyTrust, Symantec, Trend Microsystems, Tripwire, and VMware all showed their wares at VMworld. Even Checkpoint was showing off their firewall integration within the virtualized environment. Are these really competing products or products that have unique uses within the virtual environment with just a bit of overlap?
While at VMworld I was suddenly hit with a blast of heat generated by the 40,000 VMs running within the VMworld Datacenter of 150 Cisco UCS blades or so. This got me thinking about how would VMsafe fit into this environment and therefore about real virtualization security within the massive virtual machine possible within a multi-tenant cloud environment. If you use VMsafe within this environment there would be at least 40,000 VMsafe firewalls. If it was expanded to the full load of virtual NICs possible per VM there could be upwards of 400,000 virtual firewalls possible! At this point my head started to spin! I asked this same question on the Virtualization Security Podcast, which I host, and the panel was equally impressed with the numbers. So what is the solution?
With the advent of existing VMsafe products from Altor Networks, Reflex Systems, and ones on the horizon from Trend Micro and others in the security space, all administrators should have a clear understanding of how they work under the covers. Where does VMsafe appear within the stack? Is VMsafe on the incoming physical NICs, within the vSwitch, portgroups, or before or after the vNIC? Can we expect the other aspects of VMsafe to be the same? While I was discussing VMsafe with the vendors, VMware was also going around and talking to all the VMsafe vendors for VMware TV shots.
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The biggest question I ask myself when I see VMsafe appliances is: will it replace my current virtual firewall setup? Replace my Anti-virus? or Both? I am seeing a trend that gives me pause. That is a VMsafe appliance being more than one thing. For example, Trend Micro is an Anti-Virus company that bought Third Brigade (a firewall company) and are now in the mix of merging the two technologies into one. What has happened to one tool that does one thing and does that one thing very well?