Virtual Machine Security
Virtualized security, or security virtualization, refers to security solutions that are software-based and designed to work within a virtualized IT environment. This differs from traditional, hardware-based network security, which is static and runs on devices such as traditional firewalls, routers, and switches.
In contrast to hardware-based security, virtualized security is flexible and dynamic. Instead of being tied to a device, it can be deployed anywhere in the network and is often cloud-based. This is key for virtualized networks, in which operators spin up workloads and applications dynamically; virtualized security allows security services and functions to move around with those dynamically created workloads.
Cloud security considerations (such as isolating multitenant environments in public cloud environments) are also important to virtualized security. The flexibility of virtualized security is helpful for securing hybrid and multi-cloud environments, where data and workloads migrate around a complicated ecosystem involving multiple vendors.
Flexibility: Virtualized security functions can follow workloads anywhere, which is crucial in a virtualized environment. It provides protection across multiple data centers and in multi-cloud and hybrid cloud environments, allowing an organization to take advantage of the full benefits of virtualization while also keeping data secure.
Cost-effectiveness: Virtualized security allows an enterprise to maintain a secure network without a large increase in spending on expensive proprietary hardware. Pricing for cloud-based virtualized security services is often determined by usage, which can mean additional savings for organizations that use resources efficiently.
Operational efficiency: Quicker and easier to deploy than hardware-based security, virtualized security doesn’t require IT teams to set up and configure multiple hardware appliances. Instead, they can set up security systems through centralized software, enabling rapid scaling. Using software to run security technology also allows security tasks to be automated, freeing up additional time for IT teams.
Regulatory compliance: Traditional hardware-based security is static and unable to keep up with the demands of a virtualized network, making virtualized security a necessity for organizations that need to maintain regulatory compliance.
Identity and access management (IAM or IdAM for short) is a way to tell who a user is and what they are allowed to do. IAM is like the bouncer at the door of a nightclub with a list of who is allowed in, who isn’t allowed in, and who is able to access the VIP area. IAM is also called identity management (IdM).
“Access” refers to what data a user can see and what actions they can perform once they log in. Once John logs into his email, he can see all the emails he has sent and received. However, he should not be able to see the emails sent and received by Tracy, his coworker.
In other words, just because a user’s identity is verified, that doesn’t mean they should be able to access whatever they want within a system or a network. For instance, a low-level employee within a company should be able to access their corporate email account, but they should not be able to access payroll records or confidential HR information.
Access management is the process of controlling and tracking access. Each user within a system will have different privileges within that system based on their individual needs. An accountant does indeed need to access and edit payroll records, so once they verify their identity, they should be able to view and update those records as well as access their email account.
In cloud computing, data is stored remotely and accessed over the Internet. Because users can connect to the Internet from almost any location and any device, most cloud services are device- and location-agnostic. Users no longer need to be in the office or on a company-owned device to access the cloud. And in fact, remote workforces are becoming more common.
As a result, identity becomes the most important point of controlling access, not the network perimeter.* The user’s identity, not their device or location, determines what cloud data they can access and whether they can have any access at all.
To understand why identity is so important, here’s an illustration. Suppose a cybercriminal wants to access sensitive files in a company’s corporate data center. In the days before cloud computing was widely adopted, the cybercriminal would have to get past the corporate firewall protecting the internal network or physically access the server by breaking into the building or bribing an internal employee. The criminal’s main goal would be to get past the network perimeter.
However, with cloud computing, sensitive files are stored in a remote cloud server. Because employees of the company need to access the files, they do so by logging in via browser or an app. If a cyber-criminal wants to access the files, now all they need is employee login credentials (like a username and password) and an Internet connection; the criminal doesn’t need to get past a network perimeter.
IAM helps prevent identity-based attacks and data breaches that come from privilege escalations (when an unauthorized user has too much access). Thus, IAM systems are essential for cloud computing, and for managing remote teams.