Visions of virtualized security
Indeed, several of the vendors bringing to market server and desktop virtualization products speak of pursuing their own security strategies, though all have some hunger for security standards that might unite the industry.
Discussion centers around running security software as a specialized guest operating system or in the context of the hypervisor, which is basically a software-based virtual switch.
The hypervisor is being adapted in some virtualization software products to include a security component.
Greg Ness, vice president of marketing at Blue Lane, says the security firm worked with VMware to develop a plug-in to the VMware Infrastructure 3.0 hypervisor that acts as a "customized shim" to look at traffic.
Called VirtualShield, it can take snapshots of the virtual servers, keep an inventory of open ports, active service and application protocols, and send alerts when policies are violated.
VirtualShield can be managed by either VMware Manager or Blue Lane's own VirtualShield Manager. Blue Lane has no immediate plans to work with other vendors, such as XenSource or Microsoft, the latter of which is expected to make its big push into virtualization with Windows Server Longhorn technology (code-named Viridian) by the end of the year, a half year behind schedule.
Reflex Security is another security vendor making its foray into virtualization security.
"In virtualization, there are a lot of challenges that come with it, especially the security challenge," says John Peterson, vice president of product management and systems engineering at Reflex, which has adapted its hardware-based firewall and IPS to work as a Linux-based guest operating system. Peterson calls this a 'virtual security appliance.'
Reflex is also working with XenSource and Microsoft on virtualization security components.
"I definitely care about standards because it would make our job easier," Peterson says.