The Virtualization Practice

Tag Archive for SMT

VMware100x30

Many of the virtualization security people I have talked to are waiting patiently for the next drop of leaked VMware hypervisor code. But the real question in many a mind is whether or not this changes the the threat landscape and raises the risk unacceptably. So let’s look at the current hypervisor threat landscape within the virtual environment to determine if this is the case, and where such source code will impact. Are there any steps one can take now before the code drop is complete to better secure your environment?

On 9/22 was held the Virtualization Security Podcast featuring Anil Karmel, Solutions Architect at Los Alamos National Library (LANL), to discuss their implementation of secure multi-tenant Cloud. LANL makes extensive use of the entire VMware product suite from vCloud Director down to the vShield components to implement their SMT cloud. They have also added into their cloud their own intellectual property to improve overall cloud security. It was a very interesting conversation about the state of SMT today.

I just finished reading, yet another Multi-Tenancy Design/Overview that claims to be secure or trusted. While I will agree that this particular design does cover Availability and some GRC (Governance, Regulatory, and Compliance) it is severely lacking in Integrity and Confidentiality. The design even went as far as saying the cloud/virtual administrator requires “COMPLETE VISIBILITY.” I was really taken aback by those words. Why does an administrator need ‘COMPLETE VISIBILITY?’ Which leads me to the question is Integrity and Confidentiality possible within any cloud or virtual environment? Or is it purely based on TRUST?

If so this is an appalling state of virtual and cloud environment security.

Encryption is important, encryption within a VM even more important. But the question is how to do this securely without allowing the encryption keys to be seen by an administrator of the virtual environment and that supports vMotion or LiveMigration. The solution is per VM encrypted memory, but something more robust that makes use of hardware, out of band key exchange, and supports vMotion or LiveMigration.

Can we use some of this Risky Social Behaviors post to aid us in finding an adequate definition for secure multi-tenancy? Perhaps more to the point it can define how we look at multi-tenancy today. On a recent VMware Communities podcast we were told two things that seem contradictory to current security thinking. The first is that going to the cloud reduces your risk, and the second was that the definition of the cloud must include multi-tenancy.

The panel of the Virtualization Security Podcast on 5/27/2010 was joined by an attorney specializing in the Internet space. David Snead spoke at InfoSec and made it clear that there was more to secure multi-tenancy than one would imagine. The first question was “how would you define tenant?” which I believe is core to the discussion of SMT as without definitions we have no method of communicating. Before we get to David’s response, we should realize that nearly every one has their own definition of Tenant for a multi-tenant solution.

Due to what I stated during GestaltIT’s TechFieldDay, I was invited with Bas Raayman and others to discuss Secure Multi-Tenancy (SMT) in more detail with Chuck Hollis at EMC World. In addition, during one of the Keynotes SMT was renamed from Secure Multi-Tenancy to Simple Multi-Tenancy. The current Cisco VMware Netapp solution is plainly not secure. During the TechFieldDay at Cisco, Cisco even claimed “we did not think about security” when designing the initial solution. Cisco is worried about Quality of Service, I.E. Bandwidth through out the system to the disk. Furthermore, their definition of ‘Tenant’ was quite a bit different than my own. So we should first start off by defining Tenant.

The Cisco-VMware-NetApp (CVN) was discussed on the Virtualization Security Podcast as it pertains to Secure Multi-Tenancy (SMT). This is a major concern that was also discussed at RSA Conference 2010 within the Cloud Security Alliance Summit. The question still remains how to achieve this goal however. CVN is a very good start, but as we discussed on the podcast is missing some key elements.