Companies fail to adopt security policies for virtualization

New survey reveals careless attitudes to hypervisor holes

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

The survey, conducted by European research company KuppingerCole, found that 73 per cent of global organisations were concerned that the nature of hypervisors could cause problems. 73 per cent 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 virtualised environments providing another vulnerability that could be exploited. Organisations have not yet considered the security implications of this, according to the study. The research found that 49 per cent of respondents had neither implemented a privileged user management (PUM) nor a security log management solution.

Another feature of virtualised environments, data sprawl, is also not being addressed by organisations even though the vast majority are aware of the problem - 81 per cent 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 per cent of organisations have implemented them.

Only 65 per cent of respondents claimed to enforce a separation of duties for administrative tasks across virtual platforms? despite this being recognised as the best practice for virtualised environments.

Companies are loath to use the tools to automate this practice, more than 40 per cent of respondents do not use the relevant software. Additionally, only 42 per cent 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 virtualised 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 organisations could control the risks arising from virtualisation security and ultimately better leverage the benefits of virtualisation."

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