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Security in Context: The BeyondTrust Blog

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Bringing you news and commentary on solutions and strategies for protecting critical IT infrastructure in the context of your business.

Vulnerability Scanning From a Virtual Machine

Posted March 30, 2011    Morey Haber

Virtualization offers a wide array of benefits from power and environmental constraints to physical space limitations and disaster recovery efforts.  As leaders  for Unified Vulnerability Management, we realize these benefits offer a significant value  to our install base and we are in full support of virtualization for our solutions.

Although virtualization is in many ways identical to running on physical hardware from a software perspective, there are certain caveats that are unique to a connection sensitive application such as a vulnerability assessment scanner. Having an extremely diverse customer base including some of the largest deployments of vulnerability assessment, Retina has had a significant amount of  in various  environments and the challenges that can go along with them.

As virtualized environments and configurations vary widely, we can provide some guidance for scanning from these environments and anomalies you may encounter. Regardless of the scanning solution, best practice guides, minimum prerequisites, and user documentation should be adhered to during the installation of the products. eEye has developed a set of recommendations that will optimize the solution in a virtual environment and minimize any potential run times errors or scan anomalies:

Dedicated Network Interface Cards

Retina should have a dedicated physical NIC for its scanning jobs since UDP packets by nature can be dropped during high utilization from another application sharing the NIC. It is our experience that highly utilized virtualized systems favor established TCP connections over half-open or SYN only connections as well. This can have an undesirable effect on scan results too.

MS SQL Database

MS SQL should not be virtualized unless database considerations are taken for virtualization and best practices implemented per the virtualization vendor. MS SQL server requires a significant amount of resources to function correctly. In our experience we have seen a few cases where the management components, and especially MS SQL instances, have been given far inadequate amounts of resources. This always results in poor performance.  Disk speed and utilization is also a contributor to performance. MS SQL is by nature disk intensive and performs best when delivered by a RAID array or SAN solution.  Bottom line, virtualization of a machine does not change the resources required for it to function properly. Under powering SQL or management components can have a drastic impact on performance and user experience.

Dedicated Virtual Machines

Virtual machines for scanning and management components should not be shared with other applications. The Retina Network Security Scanner, Retina CS, and MS SQL are all enterprise ready solutions. Enterprise class software is optimally designed to run on enterprise class hardware. Shared resources generally lead to overburdened machines and again poor performance and user experience.

Industrial Virtualization Suites

There are many options when selecting a virtualization suite. We do not recommend one particular suite over another but do recommend choosing an industrial grade, server level, solution with commercial support and maintenance.  VMWare ESX, Parallels, Xen, and MS Virtual Serverare all acceptable technologies. Using workstation or other non-industrial virtualization technology is not recommended.

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Additional articles

CyberResiliency

6 things I like about Gartner’s Cyber Resiliency Strategy

Posted August 27, 2015    Nigel Hedges

There were 6 key principles, or recommendations, that Gartner suggested were important drivers towards a great cyber resiliency posture. I commented more than once during the conference that many of these things were not new. They are all important recommendations that are best when placed together and given to senior management and the board – a critical element of organisations that desperately need to “get it”.

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powerbroker-difference-1

Why Customers Choose PowerBroker: Flexible Deployment Options

Posted August 26, 2015    Scott Lang

BeyondTrust commissioned a study of our customer base in early 2015 to determine how we are different from other alternatives in the market. What we learned was that there were six key differentiators that separate BeyondTrust from other solution providers in the market. We call it the PowerBroker difference,

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Mac-Security-Enterprise

On Demand Webinar: Security Risk of Mac OS X in the Enterprise

Posted August 20, 2015    BeyondTrust Software

In the last several years, Mac administrators have come to realize that they may be just as vulnerable to exploits and malware as most other operating systems. New malware and adware is released all the time, and there have been serious vulnerabilities patched by Apple in the past several years, some of which may afford attackers full control of your systems.

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