The Virtualization Practice

Virtualization Security

Virtualization Security focuses upon end-to-end security, integrity, auditability, and regulatory compliance for virtualization and clouds. Virtualization Security starts where the cloud and virtual environments begin: the end user computing device. ...
We follow the user through the virtual and cloud stacks until they reach the application the user wishes to use to retrieve the data that is important to them. Virtualization and cloud security is implemented where there is an intersection between user, data, and application while maintain strict control of management interfaces. As such virtualization security looks into all aspects of security devices, tools, controls, and guides that impact or can be used to secure virtual and cloud environments.

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The 5/17 Virtualization Security Podcast was an open forum on the Cloud Security Alliance initiatives, specifically the Security, Trust, & Assurance Registry (STAR). Which is “a free, publicly accessible registry that documents the security controls provided by various cloud computing offerings.” The CSA has grown from a grass roots organization to a major player and producer or guidance for security and compliance for clouds.

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The 5/3 Virtualization Security Podcast had a very special guest, a teenager. This surprise guest told us about how she and her friends use their smartphones and cloud services such as FaceBook, Twitter, SMS, etc. For the panelist, it gave us a new look at our existing problems; expanding our viewpoint for end-user computing security, cloud security, and expectations of privacy.

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Some of us have multiple cloud endpoints in the form of mobile devices all trying to access our personal and corporate data to do our daily jobs. These incredibly useful devices (smartphones, tablets, etc.) are now a part of our organizations life. So how do we protect our data from them. IBM recently took a draconian measure of banning Siri from their employees iPhones. Yet, how can they enforce such a measure?

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Symantec and others are providing more products that fill the gaps in current End-to-End Hybrid Cloud Security. These solutions range to improved log analysis through multi-layer security for critical systems. If these solutions are rolled out would we finally have secure environments? Would we be approaching the dream of secure multi-tenancy? But first what are the products that have come to light?

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There seems to be a myriad of definitions of who is a tenant when it comes to secure multi-tenancy. This debate has occurred not only within The Virtualization Practice as well as at recent Interop and Symantec Vision conferences I attended. So who really is the tenant within a multi-tenant environment? It appears multiple definitions exist and if we cannot define Tenant, then how do you build secure applications that claim to be multi-tenant?

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There are many SaaS and Security SaaS cloud services out there, but they all lack one thing: full visibility. Why do these cloud offerings limit the ability to perform compliance auditing, forensics, and basic auditing against an organizations data retention, protection, and other necessary policies? Why not just grant the “right to audit”, or better yet, build a way for each tenant to perform their own audit down to the hardware? Why limit this by leaving it out of contracts as well as the technology? It is all feasible.

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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?

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While at InfoSec World 2012’s summit on Cloud and Virtualization Security, the first talk was on Securing your data. The second was on penetration testing to ensure that data was secure. In essence it has always been about the data but there is a huge difference between what a tenant can do and what the cloud or virtual environment provider can do with respect to data protection and security. This gap is apparently becoming wider instead of smaller as we try to understand tenant vs cloud provider security scopes. There is a lack of transparency with respect to security, but at the same time there are movements to gain that transparency. But secret sauces, scopes, legislation, and lack of knowledge seem to be getting in the way.

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VMware’s Project Octopus and others like ownCloud and Oxygen Cloud have stirred some interesting ideas about Application Security. Those applications that make use of SSL, nearly every web application, can make use of secure data storage for certificate verification means. What makes SSL MiTM attacks possible, is mostly related to poor certificate management. If there was a way to alleviate the need for the user to be involved in this security decision, then SSL MiTM attacks would be significantly reduced.