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WAF

What Is Virtualization Security? Explanation from Wallarm

What Is Virtualization Security? Explanation from Wallarm

Virtualization technology is on the scale, and there will be no downfall in the future. In the present IT domain, the majority of the workloads are deployed on virtualized infrastructures like containers and hypervisors. Deploying Virtualization-related technologies allow enterprises to save huge overheads and provide the best possible access management provisions for their infrastructure/network.

However, virtualized technologies have grave online dangers and threats that should be quickly addressed. This is where the need for securing such an ecosystem arises.

Learning Objectives
Definition

What Is Virtualized Security?

This methodology utilizes a blend of tools, technologies, and processes to secure workloads and resources deployed in the virtualized ecosystem that generally involves VMs that could be containers, firewalls, routers, and many more.

Virtualized security involves using security practices that will keep all these VMs vulnerable and threat-free. It’s a flexible approach as its implementation and monitoring are possible remotely. It’s a cloud-based approach and allows enterprises to move the virtual security as workloads move or scale.

How Does It Work?

At the functional level, virtualization based security does everything that hardware-based security solutions like firewalls, VPNs, or antiviruses does. The only difference is that this concept replaces hardware-based deployment with cloud-based deployment and delivery the facilities of all these security tools via software

Based on the business requirements, virtualized security can handle –

  • Encryption application
  • Micro-segmentation of applications so that the attack surface is trimmed drastically
  • Early finding of threats and vulnerabilities

The practice is generally applied at application using the bare metal hypervisor. However, it’s often applied as a hosted service on VMs. No matter how it’s implemented, virtualization-specific security is optimized according to the need of the hour. It’s so flexible that it automatically deployed where it’s most productive and result-driven.

architecture

The Benefits of Virtualized Security

  • Huge cost savings as there is no need to invest heavily in hardware-based solutions. Also, the cloud-based deployment of security solutions keeps end-users free from the hassles of maintenance and upgrades.  
  • Easy scalability is possible because security features can easily scale up with the need of the hour. As the workload increases or scales, cybersecurity arrangements will be optimized quickly.
  • Security is highly flexible and is not at all location specific. No matter where workloads are deployed, this strategy ensures that it’s protected as long as it exists in a virtualized environment.
  • Wide security coverage as it’s possible to cover datacenters and workloads in the cloud, multi-cloud, and hybrid clouds.
  • Easy deployment as there is no hardware to install. Cloud-based solutions are plug-and-play solutions, and end-users can use them instantly.

The Categorization - Types of Virtualized Security

As cybersecurity requirements differ with one’s purpose and the entity using the arrangements, multiple varieties of virtualization-specific security also exist. For instance:

  • Segmentation involves using resources for certain users/apps. Majorly, it involves controlling tiers/segments of a particular network.
  • Micro-segmentation includes enabling particular cybersecurity practices for the workload by generating granular zones that are safe in cyber terms. With this, it limits the attacker’s reach to the network. Its emphasis is on dividing the datacenter into multiple segments so that the IT team will have better command over digital security in every segment.  
  • Isolation focuses on separating/disconnecting the apps and workloads belonging to the 1 network. Mainly, it works on a multi-tenant public cloud ecosystem.

The Risks & Challenges

Even if virtualization-based security is very viable and brings a lot to the table, it’s not a risk-free process. Certain challenges and risks are always involved. For instance:

  • It’s a complex approach to follow as a virtual ecosystem features a wide range of apps and workloads. Their management becomes too complex over time.
  • VLAN vulnerabilities can still penetrate and can give birth to network latency.
  • Occurrence of VM sprawl as many unused and unaccounted VMs are present. This happens because IT teams often deploy too many VMs.
  • Hypervisor attacks can still happen. And if successful, all the linked VMs will be compromised.
  • The chances of DDoS attacks are still there because VMs often share the same servers; if one VM is infected, the others will also get infected.

Virtualized Vs. Physical Security

Even though both practices are here to enhance the device & IT infra’s security, they differ significantly.

For instance, physical security uses switches to protect the network. Switches operate firewalls that flow network security packets. In the virtualization-related scenario, firewalls are deployed in the form of software that can handle the virtual networks even when not associated with the physical network.

Virtualized cybersecurity can handle the root-level reach relating to containers, but this is not achievable with physical security. After all, its scope is very limited and is related to physical storage and devices alone. At best, you get to enjoy applying encryption to the disk or controlling the access at the file system level.  

However, storage security is highly diverse with virtualization-based arrangements, as you can apply security practices at a granular level.

If the virtualization-specific approach can be called flexible, physical security is rigid because it’s hardware-specific. Moving on-premise hardware is not easy. Hence, the latter is static and doesn’t change with changes in workloads or security requirements.  

Virtualization-based security works for the Cloud and, thus, is highly dynamic. As workloads scale, it scales along them. It’s also not location-limited. You can secure remote and on-premise devices with the same ease and perfection.

Best Practices For Virtualization Security Policy Development

  • All the firmware and software that you have on the host side should be updated and the latest. Don’t ignore any update notifications. You should also set up the installation for the OSs used. Also, don’t forget to reboot the OS at times. With updates and reboots, you ensure that only the latest OS is at work.
  • Make sure that administrator access privileges are fully managed and are based on PoLP.
  • Apply encryption on all the network traffic so that communication remains fully protected.
  • Aware your employees of updated and best password security deployments.
  • Have fully optimized and clear user policies that are easy to understand.
  • Set up a regular backup for all the VMs and make sure the backup is also protected.

Conclusion

In the ever-evolving security domain, the traditional security approach, emphasizing physical infrastructure more, fails big time. Organizations need something easy to scale, flexible, and not tied to a specific location. Virtualized security is one such practice. 

With effective implementation, this approach can help business ventures save huge operational costs while protecting VMs. It’s easy to use and highly flexible. However, remember the best strategies are using updated software, taking regular backups, and applying encryption are always in place as you plan to use virtualization-oriented security.

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References

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