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Enterprise Security in the Brave New (Virtual) World
The move to virtual machine–based computing platforms is perhaps the most significant change in how enterprise computing systems have been built in the past decade. The benefits of moving to virtual infrastructure are substantial, from ease of management and better server utilization to transparently providing a wide range of services from high availability to backup. Despite this sweeping change, the way that we secure these systems is still largely unchanged from how we secure today's physical systems. We must rethink the way we design security in virtual infrastructure, both to cope with the new challenges it introduces and to take advantage of the opportunities it offers.
I will discuss the growing pains of moving from physical to virtual infrastructure in the network and the dissonance this can cause in operational settings: why simply dropping existing firewalls and NIDS into virtual infrastructure can limit flexibility, how new mechanisms can help overcome these limitations, and why these elements are better off being virtual instead of physical. Next, I will look at how virtual machines can affect host security as techniques such as virtual machine introspection become mainstream and the line between host and network security gets increasingly blurred. Finally, I will look at some of the odder and more interesting capabilities virtual platforms will be offering in the next few years which will offer fertile ground for new research.
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