Research has revealed a worrying skills gap, legacy security systems, poor tools and infrastructure and a lack of understanding as to securing a virtual environment effectively, as inhibitors to IT security of virtualised infrastructures today.

This is according to research by Trend Micro, which examined the most common challenges faced by businesses when it comes to securing the virtual environment.

“The results of the research is providing the industry with not only an overview of the security challenges facing the virtual environments in businesses, but also an opportunity whereby they can develop best practice methodologies that will foster innovation within the realm of virtualisation,” says Gregory Anderson, country manager at Trend Micro South Africa.

“While the research shows a lack of training and education is preventing business from keeping their virtual environments secure, it also shows that security professionals recognise the problem and are demanding investment into up-skilling their teams to better equip them to manage these new, complex IT infrastructures,” he adds.

Organisations can reap the benefits of the virtualised machine that nets them easily scaled capacity, in-house cost savings and improved processes. According to Trend Micro, virtualised environments have the potential to be as secure, if not more secure, than physical ones.

The demand for virtualised environments, particularly with a view to growing these into the cloud, is booming with the market expected to grow significantly over the next three years. This is further supported by the research that states that over 70% of those surveyed by Trend Micro had updated their technology infrastructures and further embraced virtualisation over the past year.

The report showed that over 90% of businesses saw security as an integral part of moving to a virtualised environment. The respondents recognised the importance of aligning business and IT goals and also understand the need to factor security into the wider corporate virtualisation roadmap.

It is against this backdrop that enterprises should consider deploying one security policy across the whole infrastructure – physical, virtual and cloud. This can be managed from a single console, which makes it easier to run and manage and ensures that the levels of security are tighter.

“While it is important to deploy a single security policy across your business it is still important that you don’t simply roll out a security solution that is hard wired for a physical environment and then deploy this in a virtual environment. At Trend Micro we have developed agentless security solutions that are able to secure the virtual environment regardless of where the physical infrastructure resides.

“It may be tempting to take the security solutions we already have and then emulate them across the business, or patch them into the virtualised environment. But unless these know how to behave against virtual security attacks – they will be ineffective and could be damaging to your business,” adds Anderson.

The report saw over half the respondents using the same security tools in a virtualised environment as they did in the physical, which only serves to highlight how vulnerable businesses today are in light of the new era of computing.