Greg Ness from Blue Lane and I have known each other for a while now, and ever since I purchased Blue Lane's first release of products a few years ago (when I was on the "other" side as a *gasp* customer) I have admired and have taken some blog-derived punishment for my position on Blue Lane's technology.
I have zero interest in Blue Lane other than the fact that I dig their technology and products and think it solves some serious business problems elegantly and efficiently with a security efficacy that is worth its weight in gold.
Vulnerability shielding (or patch emulation...) is a provocative subject and I've gone 'round and 'round with many a fine folk online wherein the debate normally dissolves into the intricacies of IPS vs. vulnerability shielding versus the fact that the solutions solve a business problem in a unique way that works and is cost effective.
That's what a security product SHOULD do. Yet I digress.
So, back to Greg @ Blue Lane...he let me know a few weeks ago about Blue Lane's VirtualShield offering for VMWare environments. VirtualShield is the first commercial product that I know of that specifically tackles problems that everyone knows exists in VM environments but have, until now, sat around twirling thumbs at.
In fact, I alluded to some of these issues in this blog entry regarding the perceived "dangers" of virtualization a few weeks ago.
In short, VirtualShield is designed to protect guest VM's running under a VMWare ESX environment in the following manner (and I quote):
- Protects virtualized servers regardless of physical location or patch-level;
- Provides up-to-date protection with no configuration changes and no agent installation on each virtual machine;
- Eliminates remote threats without blocking legitimate application requests or requiring server reboots; and
- Delivers appropriate protection for specific applications without requiring any manual tuning.
VS basically sits on top of the HyperVisor and performs a similar set of functionality as the PatchPoint solution does for non-VM systems.
Specifically, VirtualShield discovers the virtual servers running on a server and profiles the VM's, the application(s), ports and protocols utilized to build and provision the specific OS and application protections (vulnerability shielding) required to protect the VM.
As traffic flows through VirtualShield inside the hypervisor, individual sessions are decoded and monitored for vulnerable conditions. When necessary, VirtualShield can replicate the function of a software security patch by applying a corrective action directly within the network stream, protecting the downstream virtual server.
As new security patches are released by software application vendors, VirtualShield automatically downloads the appropriate inline patches from Blue Lane. Updates may be applied dynamically without requiring any reboots or reconfigurations of the virtual servers, the hypervisor, or VirtualShield.
While one might suggest that vulnerability shielding is not new and in some cases certain functionality can be parlayed by firewalls, IPS, AV, etc., I maintain that the manner and model in which Blue Lane elegantly executes this compensating control is unique and effective.
If you're running a virtualized server environment under VMWare's ESX architecture, check out VirtualShield...right after you listen to the virtualization podcast with yours truly from RSA.