The virtualization trend is still going strong, offering businesses streamlined resource management and massive cost-saving potential, but just like every technology, it has its fair share of security risks. In fact, a virtualization solution is only as secure as the hypervisors that support it.
What is a hypervisor and what are its risks?
For those who don’t know, the hypervisor is a software application that distributes computing resources (e.g., processing power, RAM, storage) into virtual machines (VMs), which can then be delivered to other computers in the network. This gives people the resources they need to run resource-intensive applications without having to rely on powerful and expensive desktop computers.
System administrators can also use the hypervisor to monitor and manage VMs. This means if hackers manage to compromise hypervisor software, they’ll have unfettered access to every VM and the data stored on them.
While hypervisors are generally well-protected and robust, security experts say that hackers will eventually find a bug in the software. So far, there have been limited reports of hypervisor hacks; but in theory, cybercriminals could run a program that can break out of a VM and interact directly with the hypervisor. From there, they can control everything, from access privileges to computing resources.
Another point of vulnerability is the network. Since hypervisors distribute VMs via the company network, they can be susceptible to remove intrusions and denial-of-service attacks if you don’t have the right protections in place.
If those attack methods aren’t possible, hackers can always break into server rooms and compromise the hypervisor directly. So what can you do to protect against these threats?
Create separate VM and management networks
Keeping your VM network away from your management network is a great way to keep your virtualized environment secure. If your VMs are compromised by malware, it won’t be able to affect your hypervisor.
Set access privileges
Ideally, only you, your system administrator, or virtualization provider should have access to your hypervisor console. This means you need to set strict access restrictions on the software to prevent unauthorized users from messing with VM settings and viewing your most sensitive data.
Disable unnecessary services
Off-the-shelf operating systems will have many unnecessary services and apps that increase the attack surface of your VMs. If you can’t tell which ones to disable, consult with a virtualization specialist.
Pay attention to physical security
Breaking in to a server room is the easiest way to compromise hypervisors, so make sure your physical servers are behind locked doors and watched over by staff at all times.
Install top-notch network security tools
Due to network intrusions affecting hypervisor security, installing cutting-edge firewalls and intrusion prevention systems is highly recommended. These security tools monitor network traffic for abnormal behavior to protect you from the newest exploits.
Stay on top of hypervisor updates
Hypervisors must be patched to defend against the latest threats. But if you’d rather spend your time on more important projects, you can always entrust the security of your hypervisors to a highly experienced and certified managed services provider, like us.
Contact us today to see how we can protect your virtualized environment.