Companies fail to adopt security policies for virtualization

New survey reveals careless attitudes to hypervisor holes

By Maxwell Cooter, Techworld |  Virtualization

Companies instigating major virtualization projects are struggling to cope with security. According to new research, nearly three-quarters of all organizations are concerned hypervisor privileges could lead to abuse, while nearly four out of ten organizations believe that virtual environments are more difficult to keep secure than physical ones.

The survey, conducted by European research company KuppingerCole, found that 73% of global organizations were concerned that the nature of hypervisors could cause problems. Seventy-three percent of respondents are worried that the far-reaching privileges that hypervisors have could be abused by users.

In addition, the hypervisor also introduces an extra layer into virtualized environments providing another vulnerability that could be exploited. Organizations have not yet considered the security implications of this, according to the study. The research found that 49% of respondents had neither implemented a privileged user management (PUM) nor a security log management solution.

Another feature of virtualized environments, data sprawl, is also not being addressed by organizations even though the vast majority are aware of the problem - 81% of respondents consider the risk of data sprawl as 'very important' or 'important'. However, although Data loss prevention (DLP) solutions can help manage the risks of data sprawl, only 38% of organizations have implemented them.

Only 65% of respondents claimed to enforce a separation of duties for administrative tasks across virtual platforms? despite this being recognized as the best practice for virtualized environments.

Companies are loath to use the tools to automate this practice, more than 40% of respondents do not use the relevant software. Additionally, only 42% of the respondents perform regular access certifications for privileged users or are able to adequately monitor and log privileged access.

"This demonstrates that the automation technologies available to mitigate the risks from privileged access in virtualized environments are not yet widely deployed," says Shirief Nosseir, EMEA product marketing director, security management, CA Technologies, who commissioned the survey. "If they were, IT organizations could control the risks arising from virtualization security and ultimately better leverage the benefits of virtualization."

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