When it comes to security, topics like the cloud and networks get wide coverage on Internet blogs and forums. However, other types of technology fly completely under the radar. Virtualization just so happens to fall into this category. And just because people aren’t talking about it doesn’t mean virtualized machines and infrastructure should be left unsecured. If you don’t have the right defense in place, you’re leaving your business vulnerable to hackers and cyber threats. Here are some of the major risks of insufficient virtualization security and a few methods to prevent them.
Security risks of virtualization
Complex infrastructure – much like the topic of virtualization itself, the infrastructure of a virtualization solution can oftentimes be confusing to small businesses. The extra layers of infrastructure complexity added by virtualization can make it more difficult to spot anomalies and unusual events happening in your virtual machines and network.
Dynamic design – the design of a virtualized environment is dynamic by nature and constantly changing. Unlike adding physical equipment, which is a bit of an event as you make room for it in your office and install it, the addition of virtual machines can go almost completely unnoticed as they’re created in a matter of minutes and aren’t visible in your workspace. The danger here is the age old adage, “out of sight out of mind.” And if you add too many, they can easily become difficult to manage and secure, creating security holes in the process.
Quick moving workloads – as your virtualized infrastructure grows, there will come a time when you need to move workloads from one machine to another. While this may sound harmless enough, the real issue is that your virtual machines will likely require different levels of security. And when you’re juggling multiple workloads over multiple virtual machines, you may accidentally move mission critical workloads to a machine with a low level security, creating a security hole in the process.
How to mitigate risks
While these three risks may sound alarming, they can all be mitigated. The key behind effectively securing your virtual machines all comes down to process. Put some thought into your security processes and then implement them. Here are a few areas to cover:
- Organization – decide how and where to separate your test, development and production virtual machines.
- Audit – develop a system to regularly audit your virtual machine security. Whenever possible, use tools to automate your security checks, balances and processes.
- Patches – Perform regular security patch maintenance, and create a schedule to ensure your patches are up-to-date for all virtual machines.
- Overflow management – When you have so many virtual machines they’re hard to track, you need a system in place to monitor them. So be aware of what each virtual machine is used for, and manage it accordingly. While doing this, find ways to consolidate machines whenever possible and get rid of the ones under utilized.
- Responsibility – to ensure the security of your virtual machines doesn’t slip through the cracks, designate one IT technician or manager to be responsible for it.
If you prioritize security of your virtual machines and properly manage them, security can truly be a non-issue. If you’d like additional assistance with your virtu