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Virtualization security

Virtualization security definition

Virtualization security is a set of practices for protecting virtualized environments (such as virtual machines and hypervisors), which come with unique challenges that simply aren’t present in traditional physical environments.

See also: application virtualization, data center virtualization, host virtual machine, micro virtual machine, virtual environment, virtual machine migration, virtual machine cluster, hypervisor

How virtualization security works

The primary goals of virtualization of security are to protect the hypervisor (the application managing the virtual machines on one host) and ensure that the virtual machines are sufficiently isolated from one another. Without proper isolation, unauthorized data or users could migrate from one virtual machine to another.

Virtualization security solutions accomplish these goals by enforcing strict access control to individual virtual machines and hypervisors, continuously monitoring the components of the virtual network for signs of intrusion. These solutions also frequently make use of antivirus and antimalware software to detect infections in the virtualized environment.

Virtualization security also covers more mundane safety measures, like ensuring that hypervisors and virtual machines are running the latest security patches and periodically backing up data.

Common virtualization security tools

  • Firewalls designed for virtual environments.
  • Security Information and Event Management (SIEM) tools.
  • Intrusion detection/prevention systems (IDS/IPS).
  • Virtual private networks (VPNs).
  • Data loss prevention (DLP) tools.
  • Virtualization-aware antivirus software (antivirus solutions optimized for virtual machines).
  • Virtual Machine Encryption: Encrypting VMs to protect data.