Is virtualization a black hole in your security? 5 ways to ensure it isnít The ease with which virtual computer image files can now be downloaded means there is a much higher risk of end users running unauthorized applications Ė from games to browsers to beta software Ė in a virtual environment, making corporate systems and data much more vulnerable than in the past. This paper describes the hidden threats raised by unauthorized, unsecured desktop virtualization, and gives five effective ways to secure yourself against them. Is virtualization a black hole in your security? 5 ways to ensure it isnít Is virtualization a black hole in your security? 5 ways to ensure it isnít Virtualizationís appeal
Virtualization technology has been around for more than 40 years but it wasnít until recently that it really took off in the enterprise thanks to its promise of hardware savings and increased agility.
By encapsulating and isolating operating systems and applications from the underlying hardware, virtualization lets IT departments pack multiple independent virtual machines, each with its own operating system and applications, on a single server. This has brought real business benefits to organizations in terms of administrative and cost efficiencies. In addition freely available virtualization software, such as VM Player, has highlighted the potential of virtualization and has led to a boom in the use of virtualized software on the desktop.
This upward trend looks firmly set to continue, with Gartner, Inc predicting "Virtualization will be the highest-impact trend changing infrastructure and operations through 2012".1
Virtualization in a nutshell Virtualization separates logical resources from physical resources, allowing multiple systems to be run on one piece of hardware. Enabler Benefits Can run more applications on fewer computers, and legacy applications and operating systems on newer desktops
Allows IT to extract more value from its hardware investments and reduces management costs
Can be moved quickly and automatically to new systems
Enables business continuity and disaster recovery in the event of hardware failure
Easier deployment and management of virtual systems
Reduces the administrative complexity
Availability of cheap storage and high bandwidth Easy to deploy virtual environments on standard servers and computers
virtualization a black hole in your security? 5 ways to ensure it isnít The security issues
The benefits of virtualization might have been recognized but what is not so well grasped is the issue it raises about security. Server virtualization, with its enclosed, managed, highly protected data center environment, is not much more vulnerable than non-virtualization. Similarly, virtual desktops that are managed by IT, are running no significant increased risk. The real thorny security issue today is the proliferation of unauthorized virtual software that might be running on your company desktops and roaming laptops for a couple of reasons: Product evaluations, games and other software are often distributed on virtual appliances and free virtual machine players.
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