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5 Ways to Protect Virtualized Systems

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Published on August 4, 2022

Cloud services depend on virtualization. Without that lovely magical technology, the cloud wouldn't exist. With virtualization comes security hurdles, however. After all, you are sharing those virtualized services with other customers. 

So, how do you secure virtualized systems? Here are five ways to protect virtualized systems.

An Overview of How to Protect Virtualized Systems

In this video, CBT Nuggets trainer Bob Salmans covers five different ways to protect virtualized systems: securing communications, creating VPN solutions, utilizing default configurations, logging, and segmenting virtual networks.

1. Secure Communications

The first way to protect virtualized systems is by securing communications to those systems. Cloud products depend on APIs to configure and manage products. Think of the AWS CLI. The AWS web dashboard is nothing more than a wrapper for the AWS CLI. The AWS CLI uses API calls to make changes to cloud resources.

The easiest way to secure those API calls is by making those calls through secured channels. In this case, we are referring to using TLS connections. By encrypting traffic passing over the public internet, we can ensure sensitive data isn't leaked by people snooping on those communications. 

Another option is to use authorization keys. To use the AWS CLI, you need to configure an IAM profile with public and private keys. Those keys are sent along with AWS CLI commands to Amazon for authorization. Without that authorization, those AWS commands won't work. 

2. Standard Configs

While it's fun to tweak cloud services to get every bit of performance from them, sometimes using a standard config template is the best option. Vendors create standard configurations for their products for a reason. Those standard configurations are designed to be as secure as possible.

Let's use AWS Lightsail as an example. Lightsail has predefined templates for common web apps. One of those apps is WordPress.

You could spin up your own virtualized instance of WordPress, but then you need to ensure it is secured. Do you know how to secure a LAMP server and WordPress? More importantly, is it worth your time to secure that WordPress instance from scratch? 

You could save time by using the Lightsail default WordPress template. That template is based on a Bitnami WordPress image that has already been battle-tested. 

3. Logging

Logging is essential in today's IT landscape. You will need to know who accessed your cloud services, what they did with them, and what information they used. 

However, logging means nothing if it's only used as a reactionary measure. It's nice to have the data you need to fix a problem after it has already occurred, but you also need to actively analyze those logs. Find and fix potential issues before they become problems. 

There are a variety of different logging applications available. You might have heard of Log.JS. Log.JS was in the news recently due to a huge security issue. Log.JS was such a concern because of how widely it is used, though. You should take note of that point. That demonstrates how widely logging is used. 

Most cloud vendors have some sort of logging already available for their products. To stick with the AWS example, Amazon has a service called CloudWatch and CloudTrail. Both logging services can be used to monitor cloud services in Aws. 

4. Network Segmentation

Back in my day, we segmented networks with VLANs! Of course, that's still the case today. I'm not showing my age with that statement. 

Cloud vendors still utilize VLANs to segment customers from each other. VLANs aren't the only options, though. Cloud providers have mechanisms to create virtualized private networks, too. These still use VLANs under the hood, but they offer more robust options. 

5. Secure Remote Administration

Finally, make sure that you're remote administration tools are correctly secured. Remote administration tools include jump servers, VPNs, and SSH tunneling. 

This can go hand-in-hand with securing communications. However, using remote administration tools means connecting directly to an internal admin mechanism and not using a middle-person like an API. 

You never want to make it easy to connect to your remote admin tools. Always ensure there are large walls in-between the outside world and your remote admin interfaces. Use VPN tools or secure SSH connections to connect to your cloud servers. 

How to Learn More About Securing Virtualized Systems

Securing and managing cloud solutions is complicated, and businesses are always looking for qualified cloud security professionals. One of the easiest ways to prove your chops is earning the CCSP. The CCSP isn't easy to pass, however. If you might be interested in training for the CCSP online, we have you covered. 

If you are getting started with your IT career, consider training for the CompTIA Cloud Essentials certification. The CompTIA Cloud Essentials certification is an excellent way to get introduced to the basic principles of cloud security. 


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