Virtual Machine Introspection

From the Outside Looking In

Tamas K Lengyel and Thomas Kittel

New methods and approaches for securing cloud environments are becoming increasingly more critical as traditional host security strategies are not well integrated into virtual environments. For example, antivirus scans are a critical component of layered defense-in-depth, but in the cloud they rapidly exhaust available CPU and memory. The cloud environment nevertheless offers a unique opportunity: the ability to peer into a running operating system from an outside perspective, known as virtual machine introspection (VMI). More interestingly, it is also possible to alter the behavior of the virtualized components to help protect virtual systems in real-time. In this talk we will explore the open-source LibVMI library which over the last year, as part of the DARPA Cyber Fast Track program, has been significantly extended to ease the process of developing cloud security solutions.