Virtualize Securely - VM Introspection and Automated Security in Action

Johnnie Konstantas

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Insights from SANS Virtualization Security Summit

Traditional network security devices like firewalls and intrusion detection scanners (IDS) are blind to traffic between VMs

At last week’s SAN’s virtualization security summit some 120 security managers, newly tasked with protecting their expanding virtualization environments, were eager to learn how to establish control and achieve compliance.

Whether the representatives came from the DOD and civilian agencies or large scale commercial enterprises all agreed that growth of virtualization adoption is already happening. The cost savings in data center footprint and power consumption alone are simply too great to pass up especially given today’s economic climate.

One challenge with virtual machine (VM) proliferation, however, is that implementation standard practice does not include the provisioning of security as a compulsory step. This leaves the VM environment largely vulnerable to the same kinds of threats that physical networks are equipped to guard against. One director confided that his organization thought they had 50 virtual machines (VMs) when in fact the audit revealed a total of 250. This means that mission critical traffic is potentially flowing among 250 VMs without any kind of inspection for policy compliance or for malicious code like viruses and worms. How can this be the case? Because traditional network security devices like firewalls and intrusion detection scanners (IDS) are blind to traffic between VMs.

This is why Altor created a purpose built solution for ensuring that the flow of mission critical traffic within virtualized environements is secure. The Altor VF virtual firewall with on-board IDS also supports vMotion and vCenter integration so that the implementation of VM security does not detract from ease of administration.

Amir Ben-Efraim, CEO of Altor Networks and expert speaker at the SANS summit, spoke about how pitfalls could be avoided by baking security into virtualization deployments. Provisioning security into the solution can also allow for more optimal virtualization ROI. Agreeing with this, Ryan Trost, security director of Comprehensive Health Services (CHS), shared his experiences with large-scale, mission critical virtualization deployment. CHS uses the Altor VF in a mission-critical production environment to ensure compliance and confidence in intra-VM traffic flow.

While compliance is certainly a big pain point for virtualization administrators, the concern of putting a solution in place is shared by security administrators, IT operations, information security, as well as auditors and compliance officers. All are stakeholders in enabling mission critical traffic flow on VMs.

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More Stories By Johnnie Konstantas

Johnnie Konstantas heads Gigamon’s security solutions marketing and business development. With 20+ years in telecommunications, as well as data and cybersecurity, she has done a little bit of everything spanning engineering, product management and marketing for large firms and fledglings.

Most recently, she was the VP of Marketing at Dato, a company pioneering large-scale machine learning. She was also VP Marketing at Altor Networks (acquired by Juniper), an early leader in virtualization security and at Varonis Systems. Past roles have included product management and marketing for Check Point, Neoteris, NetScreen and RedSeal Systems.

Johnnie started her career at Motorola, designing and implementing large-scale cellular infrastructure. She holds a BS in Electrical Engineering from the University of Maryland.