Analysts question virtualised server security

Researchers at Gartner have said that businesses could be leaving themselves exposed to data loss if the uptake of virtualised servers for storage continues its exponential growth.

Gartner estimates that about 60 per cent of virtualised servers that are used by businesses will be more vulnerable than on-site solutions which are being superseded by virtualisation. This critical mass will be reached by 2012 and the level of exposure could pose a serious threat.

Gartner was quick to point out that virtualisation itself was not an intrinsically vulnerable concept, but that firms hastily adopting it as an alternative to physical servers were not taking the proper precautions to protect their data.

Gartner VP Neil MacDonald said that the problem lies with workloads that are being handled with inadequate security measures in place in a virtualised environment. Mr MacDonald pointed to a shortage in the number of professionals able to advise and train firms in the adoption of virtualised server solutions.

In order to neutralise the potential threat, businesses are being advised to seek out support and advice from professional security vendors. They are also encouraged to apply the same protective approach to virtualised systems as they do to their internal storage solutions.

A Gartner report published this week suggested that applying a consistent policy of best practice for data security was essential and using security vendors able to accommodate virtualised and physical systems would prove to be the most effective preventative measure.

Hackers are already targeting the virtualised portions of businesses’ data centres and thus fast action is required by any early adopters who believe that they have so far left themselves unprotected.

The report suggests that businesses will need to employ their own means of checking for any breach or attempted attack on their virtualised systems, as relying on the host’s tools would not always highlight an attack quickly enough.

Businesses are not being discouraged from switching to a virtualised environment. Rather they are rather being cautioned as to the potential of complacency to result in damaging data loss or compromised security.

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