Security in Virtualization

Contributed by Larry Gene Hastings Jr

Virtualization has many benefits that corporations are now beginning to understand more thoroughly and, thereby, take advantage of. Not long ago, a computer was represented by by a physical case coming in many forms, but inherently separate and functioning completely independent of other computers. Basically, this means motherboards, hard drives, power supplies, and various adapters had to be assigned and used in each individual unit. Each of these units could have one operating system installed as well. This meant that if an operator wanted to use multiple systems, then they would also need multiple physical machines. This is no longer true because of the advent of virtualization, which allows for physical storage systems such as raids to be virtually divvied up with varying size and memory requirements to function optimally without wasting resources. It is especially useful because load requirements change, and additional resources can be decreased or increased as needed. But, having all these operating systems together logically, if not physically, presents new avenues for possible breaches of security. This paper will describe how virtualization works, what security problems it presents, and what measures can be taken for security that may differ from traditional measures used for physically separate machines.

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