VMWare Guest Security Problems

A few more problems seem to have been identified in VMWare and the potential isolation of the Guest systems. This article discusses how malicious code can be spread to Guest hosts via the scripting API of VMWare products.

This is especially dangerous given that many security researchers use VMWare and other virtualization mechanisms to study malware, attack code and other less-than-friendly mechanisms, but it has ramifications for everyone else too. VMWare claims, according the author of the article, to stick to their design decision that allows the issues to exist. They believe that the good of the feature outweighs the risk of compromise. I am not so sure they are right.

VMWare and other solutions are quickly moving into the core of most organizations and their IT spectrum. They have long evolved from geek-centric tool to mainstream deployment. As such, a vulnerability of this magnitude should be treated as severe. Guest OS isolation has always been a deep value to be maintained if virtualization is to reach even higher market penetration. Organizations simply can not afford, in today’s regulatory environment, to not be able to depend on isolation in their virtual systems. Without it, they will be back to deploying multiple physical systems to manage compliance – and we have already seen that this is not the way we want to go.

While work-arounds for fixing this specific issue exist (read the article for details), I think all IT folks should make it very clear to VMWare and other virtualization vendors that we can not accept issues with host isolation, no matter the cost to features and shortcuts. The risk is simply too high. Please, if you are a user of VMWare, let them know your thoughts. Drop them, or us, a line.

Oh, and don’t forget to modify your config files to disable the feature that makes this vulnerability possible!

This entry was posted in Emerging Threats by Brent Huston. Bookmark the permalink.

About Brent Huston

I am the CEO of MicroSolved, Inc. and a security evangelist. I have spent the last 20+ years working to make the Internet safer for everyone on a global scale. I believe the Internet has the capability to contribute to the next great leap for mankind, and I want to help make that happen!

Leave a Reply