Tuesday, July 2, 2024

Securing the Future – Mastering VMware vSphere 8 Security and Hardening

In the ever-evolving landscape of IT infrastructure, security stands as the unyielding bastion protecting our virtual environments from the relentless tide of cyber threats. VMware vSphere 8 emerges as a beacon of innovation, fortifying its defenses beyond its predecessor, vSphere 7.0. This comprehensive guide embarks on a journey to unravel the robust security enhancements of vSphere 8, offering beginners a foothold in the art of virtual environment hardening.

As we delve into the intricacies of vSphere 8, we’ll explore the pivotal upgrades that set the new standard for virtualization security. From the implementation of TLS 1.2 protocols to the integration of modern identity management solutions, vSphere 8 is not just a step but a leap forward in securing your virtual infrastructure.

The latest enhancements in VMware vSphere 8’s security features:

Security Configuration & Hardening Guide – The guide for vSphere 8 provides updated hardening and auditing guidance.

TLS 1.2 Only – vSphere 8 supports only TLS 1.2, removing support for TLS 1.0 and TLS 1.12.

Identity Management – vSphere 8 Update 1 introduces modern cloud-based identity provider support, starting with Okta, and federated identity.

Non-disruptive Certificate Management – vSphere 8 allows administrators to renew and replace the vCenter SSL/TLS certificate without requiring service restarts.

In contrast, vSphere 7.0 included features like:

Virtual Trusted Platform Module (vTPM) – For securing virtual machines.

Virtualization Based Security (VBS) – To protect against threats at the hypervisor level.

Improved Certificate Management – Including the introduction of the vSphere Trust Authority (vTA).

Tips and Tricks for Beginners:

Start with the Basics – Familiarize yourself with the updated Security Configuration & Hardening Guide for vSphere 8. It’s your roadmap to understanding the security landscape.

Embrace Identity Management – Learn how to integrate cloud-based identity providers like Okta to streamline access control.

Certificate Management Made Easy – Discover the non-disruptive certificate management features that allow for seamless SSL/TLS certificate renewal.

What are some common pitfalls to avoid during vSphere hardening?

When hardening a vSphere environment, it’s crucial to avoid common pitfalls that could compromise security. Here are some key points to consider:

Inadequate Patch Management – Failing to apply security patches and updates promptly can leave your system vulnerable to known exploits. Remember to update the whole infrastructure during short time period. No need to leave half of your host unpatched pretending you don’t have time for the task.

Default Credentials – Using default usernames and passwords for vSphere components can be easily exploited by attackers.

Insufficient Access Controls – Not implementing proper role-based access controls can lead to unauthorized access to sensitive data3.

Overlooking Audit Logging – Neglecting to enable and monitor audit logs can prevent the detection of unauthorized activities.

Ignoring Compliance Standards – Overlooking industry-specific compliance standards like NIST or DISA STIGs can result in non-compliance and potential legal issues3.

Complexity Over Simplicity – Overcomplicating the network with unnecessary services and open ports increases the attack surface.

To ensure a robust security posture, it’s essential to follow best practices such as those outlined in the VMware vSphere Security Configuration & Hardening Guide.

Regularly reviewing and updating your hardening strategy is also vital to adapt to new threats and changes in your environment. Remember, security is an ongoing process, not a one-time setup. Stay vigilant and proactive in protecting your virtual infrastructure.

Few tricks from the document

The VMware document has all you need to secure your environment. Starting with the hypervisors, vCenter server and associated services, then continuing with virtual machines (VMs), networking layer, password policies and permissions.

For ESXi it is recommended that all host management be handled through vCenter Server, with ESXi shells disabled, ESXi placed in normal lockdown mode, and the ESXi root password set to a complex password.

And one last guideline when configuring access control in vCenter. Consider enabling propagation when you assign permissions to an object. Propagation ensures that new objects in the object hierarchy inherit permissions. For example, you can assign a permission to a virtual machine folder and enable propagation to ensure that the permission applies to all virtual machines in the folder.

You can also use the No Access role to mask specific areas of the hierarchy. The No Access role restricts access for the users or groups with that role.

vMotion security via encryption – vMotion and Storage vMotion copy virtual machine memory and storage data, respectively, across the network. Ensuring that the data is encrypted in transit ensures confidentiality. Isolation to a dedicated network segment with appropriate perimeter controls can add defense-in-depth and also allow for network traffic management.

vMotion security via encryption

Like all other forms of encryption, vMotion encryption does introduce performance loss, but that performance change is on the background vMotion process and does not impact the operation of the virtual machine.

Hardware security – Many servers have integrated hardware management controllers that can be extremely helpful when monitoring and updating hardware, settings, and firmware. These controllers should be checked to ensure that ALL unused functionality is disabled, ALL unused access methods are disabled, passwords and password controls are set, and firewalling and access control is in place so that the only access is from authorized access workstations for the virtualization administration team.

Final words

Security is the number one priority for an administrator. Backups, patches and guest OS patches are the number one tasks for an admin to execute while maintaining a security within a datacenter or within small business company. Fairly often admins fail because of luck of disaster recovery plans, backups stored on the same location on-site only or not enough granularity within their backups.

Security and configuration guide for VMware vSphere environment are the number one resource to use when maintaining vSphere environments.

Ransomware attacks are daily bread and while nobody can be enough prepared, admins can definitely fight ransomware by having their last line of defense (backups) spread through multiple sites and cloud providers. With of course immutability activated. It is immutability which prevents attackers to wipe out your backup files from your storage location once they find the access keys.

from StarWind Blog https://ift.tt/8gYxeHp

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