New security tools protect virtual machines

5-product test reveals differences between Reflex, Catbird, Beyond Trust, Hytrust and Trend Micro

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As enterprises move towards virtualizing more of their servers and data center infrastructure, the security technologies that are plentiful and commonplace in the physical world become few and far between.

While few direct attacks on virtual machines have been observed, it is still good security practice to protect VMs from potential vulnerabilities that exist only in the virtualized world.

For example, physical firewalls aren't designed to inspect and filter the vast amount of traffic originating from a hypervisor running 10 virtualized servers. And because VMs can start, stop, and move from hypervisor to hypervisor at the click of a button, protective features have to be able to handle these movements and activities with ease. Finally, few hypervisors have the access controls that even the most basic file server has: once someone can gain access to the hypervisor, they can control all of the VMs that are housed there.

In response to these concerns, a number of new vendors have created virtualization security tools. And the pace of mergers and acquisitions has picked up as the established vendors try to augment their offerings and integrate products. For example, VMware purchased Blue Lane Technologies and incorporated Blue Lane's software into its vShield product line. Juniper Networks purchased Altor Networks Virtual Firewall and is integrating Altor into its line of firewalls and management software. And Third Brigade is now part of Trend Micro's Deep Security line.

5 key virtual management questions | Test methodology

For this test, we sent invitations to all of the major players. The five who accepted are: Beyond Trust Power Broker Servers for Virtualization, Catbird vSecurity, Hytrust Appliance, Reflex Systems Virtualization Management Center, and Third Brigade/Trend Micro Deep Security. Declining were CA for its Virtual Privilege Manager, Juniper/Altor, Fortinet FortiWeb VM (which was just announced in January) and VMware's vShield.

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