In order to keep corporate information safe in the virtual environment, organisations will need to take an integrated approach to security. Consider the following five steps to successfully implement virtualisation in an organisation.
Group applications by configuration
On physical machines, one server might host any number of different applications, each with its own configuration. This creates a headache when it comes to policy management. The advantage offered by a virtual infrastructure is the ability to dynamically group these applications, to more easily apply security policies.
Utilise reputation-based security
Traditional security solutions perform frequent file-by-file checks, which can be resource-intensive and ineffective at guarding against new threats. Reputation-based security, however, draws on anonymous usage data from millions of users worldwide to determine suspect files. Because of the need to scan fewer files less frequently, it minimises resource usage on the machine.
Implement central management for virtual machines
Managing traditional endpoints can be time-consuming and prone to security risks. A delay in patch management, or a lag in updating security setting on different machines, can be the difference between a secure infrastructure and a data breach.
Take advantage of the benefits of virtualised endpoint management by implementing security practices and policies system-wide, to maximise protection of corporate data.
Group machines to control user access
A host-based approach allows organisations to separate groups of virtual machines to shield various system components, such as file systems, applications and registry keys.
This allows an organisation to more easily restrict access to privileged networks, and determine access level for all users, including administrators.
Monitor the network
One of the greatest advantages of virtualisation – and sometimes a great challenge – is network monitoring. The ability of an organisation to centrally manage the system creates the potential for simplified monitoring of the system.
Organisations should carefully consider the available solutions from vendors, and select the one that best meets the needs of the cloud configuration. Solutions should offer the following features:
* Automated control assessment functions, to optimise compliance with regulatory standards such as PCI and HIPAA.
* Flexible policy-based controls, to monitor for changes against established configurations.
* Consolidation of log monitoring and aggregate events, to detect changes to system resources.
* Adherence to VMware hardening guidelines, and automated system response, to monitor multiple files from multiples operating systems simultaneously
The basics
In addition to the security guidelines that apply specifically to virtualised systems, adhering to well-established general security procedures will also improve the level of security in the data centre.
* Establish two-factor authentication – traditional, single-password systems do not provide sufficient security against today’s sophisticated attacks. Two-factor authentication is necessary to provide adequate security.
* Utilise encryption – data encryption provides additional peace of mind in a virtualised system. It provides protection from outside threats, as well as inside risks such as loss of portable devices containing corporate information.
* Maintain traditional endpoint security – even in a world of virtualised services, desktop/endpoint virtualisation should not be overlooked. Maintain policies of a multi-faceted endpoint security through utilisation of firewalls, antivirus and patching policies. In fact, Gartner predicts that within four years more than one-third of security solutions will be on virtualised systems.
As businesses look to take advantage of the vast potential of virtualisation, creating a comprehensive security plan is vital. While this can seem a daunting task, in principle it remains similar to protecting a traditional data centre, in that what is being protected is the information, rather than the hardware itself.
Just as organisations have done for years, working to implement multi-tiered security solutions will minimise the risk of data loss from internal or external sources.