A torn-down virtual infrastructure creates risks for any business. And it can have a significant impact on how quickly you can retrieve your data and resume operations following an attack.
Many businesses use virtualized infrastructure for more straightforward data storage. Virtualized infrastructure is far superior to physical solutions due to enhanced flexibility, straightforward provisioning, and affordable pricing.
This model does require a comprehensive approach to security.
There is a significant risk of data loss, as many tools and practices for physical data protection are useless in a virtual environment. Virtual threats are different. You need to think beyond traditional perimeter protection.
Don’t Leave Your Virtualized Infrastructure to Chance
Virtualization security is critical to an organization’s security strategy. We live in a world of virtualized environments and need to apply security to all its layers.
Common Virtualization Risks
These are a real threat to virtualized infrastructure. If cybercriminals gain access to your host, they can easily access other crucial parts of your systems. They can create a new user, assign admin rights, and then use that power to extract or destroy your company’s sensitive data.
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. Why?
If bad actors gain access to your host, they would be able to copy data outside your virtual environment or install malware onto your virtual machine.
Virtual machines are susceptible to many forms of cyberattacks; ransomware being among the most destructive. It’s crucial to keep regular backups of your data and store them off-site where they can’t be encrypted by a ransomware attack.
If you fail to perform secure off-site backups, you may find yourself in a situation where cybercriminals have encrypted your data and expect payment to decipher your data.
Optimizing Your Virtualized Infrastructure Security
Managing Virtual Sprawl
Virtual sprawl is often associated with growing virtual environments. The concept simply means that the more you expand, the greater the need to keep your VMs secure. The number of virtual machines can outgrow your ability to do so.
To manage your virtual sprawl, consider the following:
- Always create an inventory of all your virtual machines
- Set up lookouts featuring multi-location monitoring
- Monitor IP addresses that have access to your VMs
- Look for table locks
- Do not use database grant statements to give privileges to other users
- Follow the 3-2-1 backup strategy; keep two copies of backup data on-site and one off-site
- Assess your virtual environment regularly and determine which machines you need, and which ones are no longer necessary
- Have a central log of your systems and log all hardware actions
- Create a patch maintenance schedule for all virtual machines to keep them up to date
Focusing on Virtual Configuration Setup
It is an unfortunate reality that many businesses have poor virtual network configuration hygiene. To avoid being one of those businesses, ensure all virtual applications that communicate with the host – and vice versa – have proper segmentation. This includes databases and all web facing services.
It is essential that security risks are accounted for when performing initial setup of any virtual environment. Avoid unnecessary open ports at the firewall or VM level. Do not install services on the VM that are not required. Consider known third party application vulnerabilities and patch accordingly.
Securing All Parts of the Infrastructure
It is imperative that you properly secure your infrastructure. This includes the physical components – switches, hosts, physical storage, firewalls, etc – along with the virtual and guest systems. This includes all cloud hosted systems.
When it comes to protecting your various infrastructure components, consider the following:
- Install the latest firmware on the host OS. Virtualized infrastructure must stay current with the latest security patches.
- Your active network elements such as firewalls and switches need to be consistently updated with the latest firmware version.
- Patch all operating systems with automatic updates. Schedule patch installations – including system reboots – outside of your active business hours.
- All virtualized environments should have a reliable Anti-Malware solution in place.
Utilize Business Continuity and Disaster Recovery Solutions
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 cyberattacks, acts of God, etc.
You need to have a DR site located at a data center with reasonable distance away from where you house your infrastructure. Doing so mitigates the risk of significant downtime in the event your vital data is compromised.
Your BCDR solution should back up all your critical data, including VMs, both on-site and off-site. Said VMs should be replicated to the solution provider’s data center, allowing you to spin up your virtual environment within their data center in the event of an emergency.
Prioritize the Security of Your Virtual Infrastructure
If you haven’t ever given virtualized infrastructure security the attention it deserves you need to do so now. Cyberthreats are at an all-time high; protecting your VMs from unauthorized access, malware, and other types of cyberattacks is crucial.
All aspects of your physical and virtual components need to be protected to avoid downtime and data loss.
If this topic is all Greek to you, you’re not alone. The reality is that many business owners struggle to understand the risk cyberthreats pose to their organization. That’s where we come in.
You can reach out to us for a 10-15-minute chat where we can discuss how we can help you improve your virtualized infrastructure security.
Featured Image Credit | This Article was sourced with Permission from The Technology Press.