There is no denying that virtualization brings serious benefits to the enterprise environment by increasing IT systems agility, flexibility, and scalability, and creating significant cost savings. Unfortunately, while most organisations have addressed business efficiency through virtualization, the topic of security in a virtualized environment is not gaining the same proper attention.
Virtualised applications and networks are not immune to cyber attacks, malware, and other such threats. A 2015 survey by Kaspersky Labs showed that recovery from cyber-attacks on a virtualized infrastructure is twice more costly than attacks on a physical environment. The size and structure of the enterprise didn’t make a difference.
Furthermore, the survey revealed that only 27% companies deployed a security solution specifically catered for virtual environments, despite half the respondents being aware of security risks. Kaspersky’s research also revealed that overlooking security matters may result in IT expenses exceeding the benefits offered by virtualization.
How can virtualized environments become less vulnerable to increasingly sophisticated cyber attacks? Consider the following points:
Additional Security Protocols
The more dynamic the virtualization process, the more complex the security. As virtualization adds technology layers, additional security controls must be established. Consider, for example, that sharing information in the enterprise environment is made easier with the convenience of virtual systems, but it can also provide a way for cyber threats to infiltrate the network.
Automated Security Tools
Securing a multi-layered virtual network is a grueling undertaking. Virtualization providers should be able to reinforce security through automated processes and applications within the virtual environment. A centralized management tool should be capable of reviewing security levels in the cloud at any time.
Protect your VM network against cyber attacks by deploying virtual firewalls that can secure and manage the communication among virtual machines, and shield any unauthorized correspondence or unwanted access. Virtual firewalls are known to be faster and cheaper in comparison to physical firewalls, which benefits enterprise network infrastructures.
Hypervisors or virtual machine monitors (VMM) create and run virtual machines (VMs). The physical computer where the VMM runs is called the host system. Each of the VMs in the system is a guest machine. There are specific hypervisors threats you should consider in your virtual infrastructure, from configuration errors to rogue VMs feeding on host resources. Your virtualization technology provider should take these into account.
Malware developers have created new threats that can spread across the entire virtual network beyond the breakdown of individual VMs, which causes damage to any other replacement virtual machine affected by the virus.
However, enterprises should not forget that network virtualization is among the safest alternatives for increased network security and allows for easier configuration and distribution of virtual firewalls. VM malware risks can be quickly mitigated by destroying infected virtual networks and creating new, clean networks.
It remains that virtual environments are to be trusted more than their physical counterparts, although enforced security against cyber attacks should be deployed.
Your virtualization technology provider should be able to understand any vulnerabilities in the virtual system and provide comprehensive security solutions: anti-malware, connectivity and network access controls, API access, anomaly detection and intrusion prevention.