Enhancing your businesses virtual infrastructure will fortify you against risks. Following an attack it, can be difficult to retrieve your data and resume operations.
Due to the enhanced flexibility, straightforward provisioning and affordable pricing, many businesses use virtualized infrastructure. It is more straightforward data storage and is far superior to physical solutions. It does require a more comprehensive approach to security. Virtual threats are different, that’s why you need to think beyond traditional perimeter protection. Many tools and practices for physical data protection are nearly useless in the virtual setting and there’s a much greater risk of loss of data. So, if you are using a virtualized infrastructure for data storage, keep reading. This article talks about how you can improve the risks of improper infrastructure security.
Don’t Take a Chance on Your Virtualized Infrastructure
We live in a multi-tiered world of virtualized environments. Virtualization security for all those layers is crucial for every business’s security strategy.In the following we explore three of the most common virtualization security issues.
Issue #1. External Attacks
These are a common and damaging threat to virtualized infrastructure. If hackers are able to enter your host-level or server management software, they can easily access other crucial parts of your system. They can create new users, assign admin rights, and then use that access to extract or destroy your company’s sensitive data.
Issue #2. File Sharing and Copy-Pasting
Host and virtual machine (VM) sharing is normally disabled. The same goes for copy-pasting elements between the remote management console and the VM. You can tweak the default settings by tweaking the ESXi host system, but this action isn’t recommended. Why? Because if a hacker gains access to your management console, they would be able to copy data outside your virtual environment or install malware into your virtual machine.
Issue #3. Viruses
Virtual machines, or VM, are prone to numerous attacks, with ransomware being among the most popular. This is why it’s crucial to keep regular backups of your website data and store them off-site at a place where they can’t be encrypted by hackers. If you fail to perform regular backups, you may find yourself in a situation where hackers could ask you for money to decipher your data. Restoring a VM is difficult even if you perform regular backups. Therefore, you need to educate your team members on reducing the risk of getting ransomware and other viruses.
Enhancing Your Virtualized Infrastructure Security
You now know the 3 common issues a business can face if they have an unprotected virtual infrastructure. Here are 4 tips on bolstering its security.
Tip #1. Managing Virtual Sprawl
Virtual sprawls are often associated with growing virtual environments. The concept simply means that the more your business expands, the bigger the need to keep your VMs secure. However, the number of machines can quickly outgrow your ability to do so.
To manage your virtual sprawl, consider doing the following:
- Create an inventory of all your machines at all times
- Set up lookouts featuring multi-location monitoring
- Monitor IP addresses that have access to your VMs
- Look for table locks
- Don’t use database grant statements to give privileges to other users
- Keep both on- and off-site backups
- Assess your virtual environment regularly and determine which machines you need and which ones aren’t necessary
- Have a central log of your systems and log all hardware actions
- Create a patch maintenance schedule for all machines to keep them up to date
Tip #2. Focusing on Virtual Configuration Setup
If you are using virtual servers, you risk major configuration defects.
This is why it’s essential to make sure initial setups are free from security risks. This includes useless services, unnecessary ports, and similar vulnerabilities. These initial mistakes open the door for all your virtual machines to inherit the same problems.
Quite frankly many businesses have poor virtual network configurations. You can prevent your business being one of those by ensuring all virtual applications that call the host (and vice versa) have proper segmentation. This includes databases and all web services.
It’s important to note that most virtualization platforms only offer three switch security settings: forged transmits, MAC address changes, and promiscuous mode. There’s no protection for virtual systems that connect to other network areas.
So, be diligent in investigating each virtualization platform that allows this kind of communication, including all memory leaks, copy-paste functions, and device drivers. You can also tweak the system monitoring assets to look out for these pathways.
Tip #3. Securing All Parts of the Infrastructure
It’s imperative that you properly secure all your infrastructure’s parts. This includes the physical components (switches, hosts, physical storage, routers) and virtual and guest systems. Cloud systems can be overlooked but should be secured as well.
Here are some things you can do when it comes to protecting different infrastructure parts:
- Install the latest firmware for your hosts. Virtualized infrastructure needs to have the latest security patches. So, keep all your VMware tools updated.
- Your active network elements such as routers, switches, and load balancers should use the latest firmware.
- Patch all operating systems with automatic updates. Schedule patch installations outside of your work hours and include automatic reboots.
- All virtualized environments should have reliable anti-malware and antivirus software installed (and regularly updated).
Tip #4. Having a Robust Backup Plan
Proper disaster recovery (DR) and backup plans are crucial in ensuring your business can continue operating after an attack. Both your physical and virtual components can equally suffer from damage done by hacker attacks, hurricanes, etc.
The ideal would be to have a DR site located at a faraway data center or in the cloud. This way, you’ll alleviate the risk of being shut down for a long time if your vital data gets compromised.
It is equally important to back up your VMs and your physical servers. Fortunately, you can back up your physical systems that operate on Windows or Linux, as well as your VMs that run on any OS.
Additionally, it is recommended that you make at least three copies of your data and store two of them in different virtual places. And make sure to keep one backup off-site.
If you want to take things to another level, you can replicate your VMs to a different data center for emergencies.
Prioritize the Security of Your Virtual Infrastructure
If you have never given much thought to the importance of virtualized infrastructure security, it should be your priority now. Given the number of possible threats, protecting your VMs from unauthorized data sharing, viruses, and other types of attacks is crucial.
To avoid issues, all aspects of your physical and virtual components need to be protected. If this topic is all Greek to you, you’re not alone. The reality is that many business owners have struggled with the same problem.
If you would like to learn more, you can reach out to us for a 10-15-minute chat where we can discuss how you can bring the security of your virtualized infrastructure to the next level.