How Virtualization Can Help Keep You Secure
Virtualization is one of the better trends in IT technology. It can be used to create a virtual environment that allows you to test multiple operating systems on one computer simultaneously, reducing administrative tasks, and providing improved scalability and workload. It can save your business money, increase efficiency, decrease downtime during maintenance, and do more with less equipment.
But perhaps the most crucial thing virtualization can do for your business is protect it. Virtualization security moves security functions from hardware appliances to software that can easily be moved between commodity hardware or run in the cloud. The reason for the increased use in virtualization security is because more applications are being run in the cloud, and networks are becoming increasingly virtualized, increasing the need for this type of protection.
Virtualization security can help protect your network through a few different methods, including sandboxing, server virtualization, network virtualization, and desktop virtualization, and some others. But for the purpose of this article, we will only be focusing on those mentioned, as they are implemented the most.
Sandboxing is a method that separates running programs primarily used to execute untested programs or codes from unknown parties, distributors, or websites. Virtualization’s primary objective in improving security is to isolate applications and guard them against external threats such as malware, viruses, and applications that halt the execution of a program. This method is best used alongside applications which are untested or unstable. Virtualization offers some of the benefits of sandboxes without having to pay premium prices for a new machine, and since it’s not connected to your LAN, but rather to the Internet, it can protect your operating system and programs from malicious attacks.
Web servers can benefit from virtualization because it creates a hardware abstraction layer between the operating system and the x86 hardware. Server virtualization maximizes resources by partitioning the physical server into smaller virtual resources. The server admin divides the physical server in diverse small virtual environments. When virtualization occurs, the server makes it easier to protect the server, virtual machines, and the entire network through its capability to detect malicious viruses and damaging elements.
Network virtualization combines hardware and software network resources, combining network functionality into a single virtual network. This minimizes the effect of malware when infecting the system and creates logical virtual networks from underlying network hardware to better integrate with virtual environments. Similar to sandboxing, network virtualization features isolation, which allows multiple virtual networks to deploy customized end-to-end services on the fly. Network virtualization also employs segmentation, a method which divides the network into subnetworks, minimizing the local traffic to boost performance. It also makes the internal network structure invisible from the outside, improving its security.
With desktop virtualization, you can create, modify, or delete images as well as separate the desktop environment from the physical computer used to access it. This type of virtualization allows administrators to manage employee’s computers easily, protecting them from introducing viruses to the computers or unauthorized access. Desktop virtualization provides more security to the user by providing a guest OS image for the desktop environment, and it doesn’t allow copying or saving of data to a disk other than the server, making desktop virtualization a more secure option for networking.