Protecting the Cloud with Virtualization Security
by Daniel Newman | December 28, 2016
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Are the days of on-site security ending? As companies shift more data and programs into the cloud, IT managers are slowly shifting their security in tandem, which is smart, as traditional physical security measures simply won’t work in the cloud. And cloud attacks can lead to other attacks within the organization.

Traditionally, IT security had been handled in-house behind a complex array of organization-level firewalls and supported by on-site staff and response teams. But as more companies move the majority of their workflow to the cloud, and virtual machines grow increasingly complex and robust in their built-in security measures, it becomes more challenging to do so. As a result, companies like Amazon Web Services have started to offer virtual security measures to protect against cloud attacks. Virtual machines (VMs) allow companies to offset the cost and resource drain imposed by cybersecurity.

I wouldn’t say the days of on-site security are numbered, but tactics are shifting, and we can expect to see virtual security working in tandem with on-site security measures to keep organizations’ systems and data safer than ever.

Realize the Versatility of Virtualization

As more companies shift toward cloud services, securing cloud solutions becomes increasingly crucial. Previously, each part of a company’s network required specialized security measures on-site. VMs can handle much more than legacy cybersecurity structures can. For example, a business may have several different cloud services that touch various aspects of the business at once. VMs can host a wider collection of cloud services, resulting in a more secure structure without requiring multiple, individual security measures for protection. Virtualization enhances existing security by providing additional layers of protection.

Virtualization is also scalable–it can work for any size organization in any industry. Private cloud servers made many business leaders wary initially; if a hacker managed to breach a private cloud, that hacker would then have easy access to multiple systems. Cloud security has evolved, and now businesses are pursuing private cloud solutions with greater confidence, thanks to virtualization.

Protection on Multiple Fronts

Any business considering the cost-effectiveness of virtualization needs to first assess existing security, because VMs may be able to provide added layers of security on top of existing systems. Hybrid cloud configurations typically involve in-house security measures at the physical level, host security, and then security within the cloud. Any virtualization process needs to encompass all possible avenues of attack. Cybersecurity involves four distinct areas of defense:

  • Firewall.Businesses need to know that unauthorized users will not be able to access their systems and data. VMs can monitor your systems and cloud storage so closely that any attempted hacks will be detected before any harm can be done. A solid VM should be packed with reliable intrusion detection software. Additionally, look for tools that allow you to encrypt data while it is in transit between different VMs.
  • Antivirus. Companies need to rest assured their data will not be corrupted or compromised by malicious programs. While your on-site physical systems are likely protected, you also need security at the host level. VMs can function as an additional layer of antivirus protection in the cloud, ensuring no malware or other viruses enter the cloud host.
  • Compliance. Several industries, such as healthcare and medical device manufacturing, are heavily regulated and have strict standards for cybersecurity. Most VMs can be configured with various features to ensure compliance requirements are met. Some virtualization security tools create digital ledgers of every entry and every change made to the ledger, offering a clear trail whenever something changes. If your industry is heavily regulated and staying in business means remaining compliant with industry regulations, compliance control tools are a must.
  • Access Control. Most companies have various levels of security clearance. Some hackers will attempt to use an insider’s information to increase their access levels and enter secure areas of a company’s network. VMs provide an extra layer of defense against unauthorized access. Additionally, VMs can prevent unauthorized users from making changes to certain areas of the cloud.

If you decide to adopt virtualization for your company’s cloud systems, recognize how it will affect your company’s operations. Ideally, you can configure your VMs in such a way that your cloud is optimized against various types of threats. Virtualization offers a proactive approach to cybersecurity.

Even as you pursue virtualization, legacy security isn’t going anywhere. You need robust on-site security measures while you leverage the potential of the cloud to your organization’s benefit. Virtualization, working in tandem with on-site security, paves the way to robust, well-defended cloud solutions that are both scalable and relatively future-proof.

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About the Author

Daniel Newman is the Chief Analyst of Futurum Research and the CEO of The Futurum Group. Living his life at the intersection of people and technology, Daniel works with the world’s largest technology brands exploring Digital Transformation and how it is influencing the enterprise. Read Full Bio