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Symantec Security Insights Blog

Protecting Your Virtual Network

Virtual data centers are helping businesses become more productive and agile in today's changing world, but they are susceptible to cyber attacks. What is the best course of action to protect and manage data in a virtual environment?
Created: 20 Aug 2014
Solange Deschatres's picture
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Virtualization has swept through the data center in recent years; enabling an IT transformation and the expansion of a key component of today’s businesses, cloud computing. The ability to deploy virtual instances of servers allows existing hardware to be used more efficiently and contributes to better IT management, automation, agility and scaling. It also provides consolidation, cap x savings and actual dollar savings, because businesses can now function with less physical hardware. Clearly, virtualization makes great sense for the enterprise. But with virtualization and “cloud-era” IT infrastructure come significant changes and new challenges to data security.

Some organizations may wonder, ‘why can’t our existing physical security protect our new virtual systems?’ Simply put, physical security devices were never designed to protect a virtualized architecture. These traditional security measures depend on physical devices deployed on the perimeter of the data center or on physical networks. The physical devices can’t see into the virtual networks, which can leave a large hole in your network security.

In a virtual environment, applications and operating systems are subject to the same cyber-attacks that are present in a physical environment. Attackers frequently target servers during a data breach, and with the click of a button they can remove racks of servers from the data center. Additional risk is also introduced at the hypervisor and management server level.

The threats to servers range from sophisticated penetration techniques from hackers to unintentional configuration mistakes by system administrators. When considering security in virtual environments it is important to select a technology that will defend against external threats and insider risk across the virtual fabric without compromising performance.

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The Software-Defined Data Center

Virtualization is at the core of the software-defined data center (SDDC), which is built on the idea of migrating the entire architecture of company resourcesand services to the cloud. The biggest challenge to the software-defined data center is making sure that security and controls can operate as quickly as the virtual machines. While the old process of spinning up additional servers could have taken months, this task can now be completed in hours or minutes. As a result, IT security controls have to be adapted to this type of scenario.

To match the speed and scale of virtual infrastructure, new securities must be software-defined as well. This means that they can follow and move at the same pace as virtual data – as one virtual machine moves across hosts, its security policy follows automatically.

For companies that need protection for their virtual and physical servers Symantec’s Data Center Security: Server & Server Advanced provides maximum security for servers in the data center.

Symantec Data Center Security: Server delivers agentless malware protection for VMware® infrastructures via a security virtual appliance, and enables security policy orchestration and automated workflows for the software-defined data center.

Symantec Data Center Security: Server Advanced extends Symantec Data Center Security: Server by incorporating technologies previously known as Critical System Protection. Server Advanced provides granular, policy-based controls via a low impact in-guest agent to monitor and protect heterogeneous physical and virtual server environments.

These solutions include three levels of protection:

  • Infrastructure: Monitor key files. A supervisor overlay allows you to monitor and report back as well as monitor security of your hypervisor.
  • Workload: Use security as a service. The agent has been moved from the server into the hypervisor, enabling you to tell the infrastructure framework when and where you want to provision security.
  • Management: Harden around your environment. Lock down and control access to make sure files aren’t manipulated or changed.

While traditional protection technologies such as antivirus remain essential layers of defense, the current threat landscape warrants augmenting with real-time and proactive virtual security. This provides a layer of protection with optimized security for each unique server, to address greater confidentiality, integrity, and availability requirements of each system. Check out Symantec Virtual Solutions to learn more.