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Virtualization Project Report

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Virtualization Security in Data Centers and Clouds

Minjie Zheng, mzheng@go.wustl.edu (A project report written under the guidance of Prof. Raj Jain) DownloadPDF
Abstract

In the past decade, with the unprecedented growth in tech companies and advances in cloud computing, it has become increasingly common for companies to incorporate virtualization in their data centers to fully utilize their hardware resources. As a result, virtualization and virtualization security have gone through major transforms in the recent years. Virtualization and its unique architecture have many characteristics and advantages over traditional non-virtualized machines. However, these new characteristics create new vulnerabilities and possible attacks on a
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According to a research done by Nemertes Research, nearly 93% of the organizations it surveyed in 2009 have deployed virtualization in their servers [Ritter09]. However, with the vast benefits that come with adoption of virtualization, new challenges and vulnerabilities also arise at the same time.

This survey paper first provides an overview on the current state of virtualization. Although many forms of virtualization exist, this paper will primarily focus on virtualization techniques that are used in modern data centers and clouds. In addition, this paper will discuss the security vulnerabilities brought about by different virtualization techniques. Specifically, the paper will address the forms of possible attacks on a virtualized machine, the advantages of using virtualization, and some current challenges. Lastly, the paper will present plausible solutions to the security vulnerabilities of virtualization. The solutions will incorporate theoretical defense mechanisms on the architecture and infrastructure, and examples of current virtualization security products developed by security firms.

2. Virtualization Overview

Virtualization is the abstraction of a hardware or software system that lets applications run on top of the virtualized environment without the need of knowing the underlying resources available. The virtualized environment is otherwise known as the virtual machine
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