I’m just back from Gartner’s US 2011 Data Center Summit held this week in Las Vegas. In my previous post, I talked about information security vendor’s concerns on the potential impact of the Eurozone crisis on information security spending.
Here, I want to outline the top security-related issues and concerns that I discussed with attendees at the conference:
- Interest in securing the next-generation virtualized data center remains high with most of the questions focused on the separation of workloads of different trust levels (e.g. PCI, DMZ, dev/test) in virtualized environments. In most cases, this will involve the use of software-based virtualized security controls. Specific to PCI, one attendee indicated their QSA had accepted PCI and non-PCI related workloads on the same physical host without all workloads being considered in scope (in this case, they used externalized physical firewall-based separation).
- Several attendees asked if I was aware of any publicized incidents of hypervisor breaches. I’m not, but that doesn’t mean that they won’t (or haven’t) happened. The vulnerabilities are there. It will happen, it’s just a matter of time – hackers are quite aware that a successful attack at this layer represents an opportunity to penetrate the entire machine regardless of the security controls within each host.
- I had several questions on optimizing antimalware scanning in a virtualized environment. Trend Micro has been an early innovator here with its integration with VMware’s vShield Endpoint APIs, but there are other options and approaches, each with pros and cons.
- In terms of cloud security, most questions revolved around extending enterprise virtualized data centers to public cloud IaaS providers in hybrid scenarios and how to protect this.
- The second most common cloud security issue discussed was the use of encryption and other approaches to securing data in the cloud. Since cloud isn’t one thing, our approaches to securing data in the cloud will be different at different layers.
It was a great conference with record-setting attendance. It’s clear to me that virtualization, mobilization and cloud computing are transforming the enterprise data center and that information security needs to evolve to support this. Based on the interests from attendees of the conference in information security, I’d say they feel exactly the same way.
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