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Virtual Machine Security in Cloud

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  • Difficulty Level : Expert
  • Last Updated : 05 Jan, 2023
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Pre-requisite:- Virtual Machine

The term “Virtualized Security,” sometimes known as “security virtualization,” describes security solutions that are software-based and created to operate in a virtualized IT environment. This is distinct from conventional hardware-based network security, which is static and is supported by equipment like conventional switches, routers, and firewalls.

Virtualized security is flexible and adaptive, in contrast to hardware-based security. It can be deployed anywhere on the network and is frequently cloud-based so it is not bound to a specific device.

In Cloud Computing, where operators construct workloads and applications on-demand, virtualized security enables security services and functions to move around with those on-demand-created workloads. This is crucial for virtual machine security. It’s crucial to protect virtualized security in cloud computing technologies such as isolating multitenant setups in public cloud settings. Because data and workloads move around a complex ecosystem including several providers, virtualized security’s flexibility is useful for securing hybrid and multi-cloud settings.

Types of Hypervisors

Type-1 Hypervisors

Its functions are on unmanaged systems. Type 1 hypervisors include Lynx Secure, RTS Hypervisor, Oracle VM, Sun xVM Server, and Virtual Logic VLX. Since they are placed on bare systems, type 1 hypervisor do not have any host operating systems.

Type-2 Hypervisor

It is a software interface that simulates the hardware that a system typically communicates with. Examples of Type 2 hypervisors include containers, KVM, Microsoft Hyper V, VMWare Fusion, Virtual Server 2005 R2, Windows Virtual PC, and VMware workstation 6.0.

Type I Virtualization

In this design, the Virtual Machine Monitor (VMM) sits directly above the hardware and eavesdrops on all interactions between the VMs and the hardware. On top of the VMM is a management VM that handles other guest VM management and handles the majority of a hardware connections. The Xen system is a common illustration of this kind of virtualization design.

Type II virtualization

In these architectures, like VMware Player, allow for the operation of the VMM as an application within the host operating system (OS). I/O drivers and guest VM management are the responsibilities of the host OS.

Service Provider Security 

The system’s virtualization hardware shouldn’t be physically accessible to anyone not authorized. Each VM can be given an access control that can only be established through the Hypervisor in order to safeguard it against unwanted access by Cloud administrators. The three fundamental tenets of access control, identity, authentication, and authorization, will prevent unauthorized data and system components from being accessed by administrators.

Hypervisor Security

The Hypervisor’s code integrity is protected via a technology called Hyper safe. Securing the write-protected memory pages, expands the hypervisor implementation and prohibits coding changes. By restricting access to its code, it defends the Hypervisor from control-flow hijacking threats. The only way to carry out a VM Escape assault is through a local physical setting. Therefore, insider assaults must be prevented in the physical Cloud environment. Additionally, the host OS and the interaction between the guest machines need to be configured properly.

Virtual Machine Security 

The administrator must set up a program or application that prevents virtual machines from consuming additional resources without permission. Additionally, a lightweight process that gathers logs from the VMs and monitors them in real-time to repair any VM tampering must operate on a Virtual Machine. Best security procedures must be used to harden the guest OS and any running applications. These procedures include setting up firewalls, host intrusion prevention systems (HIPS), anti-virus and anti-spyware programmers, online application protection, and log monitoring in guest operating systems.

Guest Image Security

A policy to control the creation, use, storage, and deletion of images must be in place for organizations that use virtualization. To find viruses, worms, spyware, and rootkits that hide from security software running in a guest OS, image files must be analyzed.

Benefits of Virtualized Security

Virtualized security is now practically required to meet the intricate security requirements of a virtualized network, and it is also more adaptable and effective than traditional physical security.

  • Cost-Effectiveness: Cloud computing’s virtual machine security enables businesses to keep their networks secure without having to significantly raise their expenditures on pricey proprietary hardware. Usage-based pricing for cloud-based virtualized security services can result in significant savings for businesses that manage their resources effectively.
  • Flexibility: It is essential in a virtualized environment that security operations can follow workloads wherever they go. A company is able to profit fully from virtualization while simultaneously maintaining data security thanks to the protection it offers across various data centers, in multi-cloud, and hybrid-cloud environments.
  • Operational Efficiency: Virtualized security can be deployed more quickly and easily than hardware-based security because it doesn’t require IT, teams, to set up and configure several hardware appliances. Instead, they may quickly scale security systems by setting them up using centralized software. Security-related duties can be automated when security technology is used, which frees up more time for IT employees.
  • Regulatory Compliance: Virtual machine security in cloud computing is a requirement for enterprises that need to maintain regulatory compliance because traditional hardware-based security is static and unable to keep up with the demands of a virtualized network.

Virtualization Machine Security Challenges 

  • As we previously covered, buffer overflows are a common component of classical network attacks. Trojan horses, worms, spyware, rootkits, and DoS attacks are examples of malware. 
  • In a cloud context, more recent assaults might be caused via VM rootkits, hypervisor malware, or guest hopping and hijacking. Man-in-the-middle attacks against VM migrations are another form of attack. Typically, passwords or sensitive information are stolen during passive attacks. Active attacks could alter the kernel’s data structures, seriously harming cloud servers. 
  • HIDS or NIDS are both types of IDSs. To supervise and check the execution of code, use programmed shepherding. The RIO dynamic optimization infrastructure, the v Safe and v Shield tools from VMware, security compliance for hypervisors, and Intel vPro technology are some further protective solutions.

Four Steps to ensure VM Security in Cloud Computing

Protect Hosted Elements by Segregation

To secure virtual machines in cloud computing, the first step is to segregate the newly hosted components. Let’s take an example where three features that are now running on an edge device may be placed in the cloud either as part of a private subnetwork that is invisible or as part of the service data plane, with addresses that are accessible to network users.

All Components are Tested and Reviewed

Before allowing virtual features and functions to be implemented, you must confirm that they comply with security standards as step two of cloud-virtual security. Virtual networking is subject to outside attacks, which can be dangerous, but insider attacks can be disastrous. When a feature with a backdoor security flaw is added to a service, it becomes a part of the infrastructure of the service and is far more likely to have unprotected attack paths to other infrastructure pieces.

Separate Management APIs to Protect the Network

The third step is to isolate service from infrastructure management and orchestration. Because they are created to regulate features, functions, and service behaviors, management APIs will always pose a significant risk. All such APIs should be protected, but the ones that keep an eye on infrastructure components that service users should never access must also be protected.

Keep Connections Secure and Separate

The fourth and last aspect of cloud virtual network security is to make sure that connections between tenants or services do not cross over into virtual networks. Virtual Networking is a fantastic approach to building quick connections to scaled or redeployed features, but each time a modification is made to the virtual network, it’s possible that an accidental connection will be made between two distinct services, tenants, or feature/function deployments. A data plane leak, a link between the actual user networks, or a management or control leak could result from this, allowing one user to affect the service provided to another.

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