Intel takes wraps off its virtual machine security offering

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With security playing a major part systems administrators' thinking, Intel has taken the wraps off its attempts to protect data on virtual machines.

“Enterprise threats are continuing to surface for everybody, the cloud is not immune to intrusion,” said Dylan Larson, director of Xeon platform marketing in the Intel Data Centre Group.

Larson said that cloud computing’s use of virtual machine networks has created new “surfaces” of attack and described how side channel attacks on virtual machines were “lower hanging fruit” for attackers.

Larson explained that a part of the challenge of cloud security lies in protecting virtual machine migration between hosts as part of multi-tenant shared infrastructures. Trusted Execution Technology (TXT) is one way Intel are meeting client security and compliance concerns for shared datacentre hosting.

Citing Forrester survey results, Larson said: “If 70 per cent of IT organisations are concerned with security you have to give them the tools to make sure they can give assurances to their customers and how to report to regulators.”

Trusted Execution Technology is a system designed to ensure that virtual machines boot in a trusted way and features built-in encryption. A demonstration showcasing the technology illustrated that once a virtual machine manager has been verified as trusted it is placed in a Trusted Compute Pool, this allows users to specify a trusted pool they want to use when deploying a virtual machine.

Larson also said that businesses looking at cloud computing need to think about how mission critical their workloads are.

Alan Priestly, strategic marketing director for Intel, explained that businesses should keep valuable data local and “marry” it with services from the cloud. “For small businesses, cloud is not a replacement for their servers it should complement them,” he said.