by April 1, 2009 0 comments



Information grows at a rapid pace and so do malicious attacks. Security has
therefore become the mission critical aspect of almost everything. Till now,
consolidation of resources in a data center has been seen as the main advantage
of virtualization. But now, the ability to isolate virtual machines running on a
physical machine has given opportunities for enhancing security at end points.

The Concept
Security vendor Symantec has come up with a new virtual machine technology
to protect Web surfers from online attacks. VIBES, stands for virtualization
based end point security, which works on the concept of three virtual machines
for a single user handling operations of different security levels. The software
does so by automatically recognizing the security level of different operations
and then seamlessly switching between different virtual machines in a way which
is transparent to both user and the website. The advantage being even in the
case of an attack, it prevents malware from permanently damaging a user machine
and at the same time protects sensitive information from theft.

Direct Hit!

Applies To: IT Managers
USP: End user security
Primary Link: Nill
Google Keywords: Symantec VIBES

How it works?
VIBES basically works in three operating modes. First being Playground which
is used for execution of suspicious active content. Second is the User mode
which takes care of day to day activities. And last but not the least is the
Trusted mode which is responsible for entering sensitive information, for
example, when it detects a SSL protocol for safe online transactions. By doing
so, it also improves browser security by enabling users to seamlessly use
different virtual execution environments to carry out different Web
transactions.

While accessing a Web site using https, the protocol for encrypting sensitive
data transactions, the VIBES system moves the operation again to a Trusted
Virtual Machine that provides a higher level of security. All other activities
are carried out in a mode that offers the level of security offered by the
antivirus and other security software installed on the computer. The isolation
of these activities are all invisible to the end user.

Switching between
the three virtual machines is transparent for both the user and the website.

Because Vibes works on virtual machines. Even if a user ends up accidentally
installing a malicious software on the PC, the virus can’t access anything
important and also disappears when the virtual machine session is closed.

What lies ahead?
Being developed by Symantec Research Labs, VIBES might not make it to being
a full fledged product, but learnings from this prototype might be seen in other
future products. The current prototype supports Linux and VMware, but is wisely
capable of supporting other virtualization products and operating systems. Data
centers have already been witnessing the adoption of virtualization technology,
where it is being used to consolidate server applications onto fewer machines.
But now, companies like Symantec are looking at ways to use the technology on
the desktop as well as the data center, and in so-called cloud computing
platforms.

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