The Great Arms Race For Security: Virtualization

The Great Arms Race For Security: Virtualization

Since its infancy in the early seventies when the first computer virus was created, the malware and anti-malware business has grown into multi-billion dollar industries. No longer are script kiddies creating malware for notoriety, instead the malware industry is run by organized criminals who invest time and money in new technologies and methods to compromise systems for profit.

The evolution of malware is the driver for the progress of security. Malware propagation has gone from floppy disks, to email attachments, and on to remote exploits of vulnerabilities. Malicious software itself has become more sophisticated by using kernel-level code to hide as rootkits, effectively moving down the stack. The result: an ‘arms race’ between organized criminals and security vendors. Each party reacts to changes in the industry to gain the upper hand. Take for example the growth in broadband adoption since the early 2000’s. As broadband adoption grew so too did the number of endpoints in botnets.

Security vendors process in excess of 4 billion requests per day to stop malware from propagating. However, the basic fundamentals of security have not changed in over 20 years. Malware takes advantage of exploiting vulnerabilities in operating systems and applications that run in them. The key point is that security solutions are implemented to stop malware within an operating system; however there is no such thing as a full-proof system. Security solutions operate within the confines of an operating system privilege structure. When attempting to inspect the system it is impossible to guarantee the integrity of the execution space of the security software running in the same execution space as malware. Therefore, beyond the question of whether or not a system has been compromised, it is a matter of what has not been found. With this in mind, the challenge for the security industry is to make the cost of attack so expensive that organized criminals choose different easier methods – for example basic social engineering techniques like a 451 scam.

Just as the rise of the Internet provided new opportunities for attackers, so too has virtualization and cloud technologies provided both security experts and attackers with new opportunities. With cloud computing the security challenge is even further exacerbated simply because end-users do not have access to the underlying infrastructure. Understanding how changing the infrastructure beneath endpoints affects endpoint security is elemental for security strategies. With all the benefits that virtualization brings, there are also new risks. Side channel exploitation, where a virtual machine is attacked from a neighboring virtual machine via a vulnerability are possible. This is simply due to the fact that multiple virtual machines share the same hardware via the hypervisor. In the case of cloud computing where multi-tenancy is the norm, there is no assurance that the end-user controlling a neighboring virtual machine has malicious intentions or not.

Virtualization and cloud computing is changing the security industry, both from a technology standpoint and the way it is consumed. With the benefits of a pay-as-you-grow model that cloud computing offers, end-users are able to quickly deploy IT infrastructure that addresses the business need without a large capital outlay. The security industry is evolving to meet this same licensing model requirements. However, even by meeting the needs of end-user license model requirements in the cloud; the challenge still remains the same. It is impossible to guarantee the integrity of the execution space of the security software running in the same execution space as threats.

With virtualization technology we now have the opportunity to exponentially raise the cost of attack on a system by gaining full visibility into the entire stack.

By utilizing hypervisor introspection technology it is possible to ensure the integrity of critical operating system areas, like the kernel for example. Through these introspective techniques threats are prevented from hiding or executing certain payloads within an operating system. Hypervisor introspection provides the security industry with the tooling to exponentially raise the cost of attack, by gaining full visibility into the execution space without operating in the same space that threats operate in. Similar to the movie “Minority report” where in the future criminals are arrested before they commit a crime, so too does virtualization technology enable security vendors to gain full visibility into systems and operate outside of the execution space that threats exist in.

By Gavin Hill, director of virtualization and cloud security research, Bitdefender

For over a decade, Gavin Hill has been the driver of security technologies for global organizations in markets that encompass North America, Europe, and Asia. With extensive technical-to-business experience that spans development, product management, and marketing, Hill has a proven record of success in driving first-to-market solutions. At Bitdefender, Hill is leading the product management and product marketing groups for virtualization and cloud security solutions.

Follow Us!

CloudTweaks

Established in 2009, CloudTweaks.com is recognized as one of the leading authorities in cloud computing information. Most of the excellent CloudTweaks articles are provided by our own paid writers, with a small percentage provided by guest authors from around the globe, including CEOs, CIOs, Technology bloggers and Cloud enthusiasts. Our goal is to continue to build a growing community offering the best in-depth articles, interviews, event listings, whitepapers, infographics and much more...
Follow Us!

Sorry, comments are closed for this post.

Comics

At CloudTweaks, we're plugged into the cloud, the internet of things and all that the web has to offer. From wearable technology, to mobile computing, cloud computing and big data, CloudTweaks is your source for updates and news on the most innovative technology.

Popular

Top Viral Impact

Cloud Infographic – Cloud Computing And SMEs

Cloud Infographic – Cloud Computing And SMEs

Cloud Infographic – Cloud Computing And SMEs SMEs (Small/Medium Sized Enterprises) make up the bulk of businesses today. Most cloud based applications created today are geared toward the SME market. Accounting, Storage, Backup services are just a few of them. According to the European Commission, cloud based technology could help 80% of organisations reduce costs by…

The Education Revolution: Cloud In The Classroom

The Education Revolution: Cloud In The Classroom

The Education Revolution: Cloud In The Classroom With the back-to-school season now upon us, parents, students and teachers everywhere are once again struggling with the perpetual challenge of making kids job-ready in a high-speed and fast-changing environment. There is little doubt in anyone’s mind that information technology plays a central role in all areas of life…

Using Big Data To Make Cities Smarter

Using Big Data To Make Cities Smarter

Using Big Data To Make Cities Smarter The city of the future is impeccably documented. Sensors are used to measure air quality, traffic patterns, and crowd movement. Emerging neighborhoods are quickly recognized, public safety threats are found via social networks, and emergencies are dealt with quicklier. Crowdsourcing reduces commuting times, provides people with better transportation…

The Future Of Work: What Cloud Technology Has Allowed Us To Do Better

The Future Of Work: What Cloud Technology Has Allowed Us To Do Better

The Future of Work: What Cloud Technology Has Allowed Us to Do Better The cloud has made our working lives easier, with everything from virtually unlimited email storage to access-from-anywhere enterprise resource planning (ERP) systems. It’s no wonder the 2013 cloud computing research IDG survey revealed at least 84 percent of the companies surveyed run at…

Featured Sponsors

Sponsors

Is SaaS For You? Three Questions To Ask

Is SaaS For You? Three Questions To Ask

The idea of providing software to customers for a fee without the need for investments in IT infrastructure or staff has been around for decades. In the 1970s it was called Timesharing. Back then, companies utilized Timesharing services as their primary source of IT applications or as an extension of in-house IT applications, thereby avoiding…

Placement Opportunities - Find Out!

Established in 2009, CloudTweaks is recognized as one of the leading influencers in cloud computing, big data and internet of things (IoT) information. Our goal is to continue to build our growing information portal, by providing the best in-depth articles, interviews, event listings, whitepapers, infographics and much more.

You can help continue to support our community by social sharing, sponsoring, partnering or contributing to this great educational resource.

Contact

CloudTweaks Media
Phone: 1 (212) 763-0021

Join Our Newsletter