Dark Reading is part of the Informa Tech Division of Informa PLC

This site is operated by a business or businesses owned by Informa PLC and all copyright resides with them.Informa PLC's registered office is 5 Howick Place, London SW1P 1WG. Registered in England and Wales. Number 8860726.

Perimeter

2/21/2008
07:45 AM
Connect Directly
Google+
Twitter
RSS
E-Mail
50%
50%

'Live' VMs at Risk While in Transit

Black Hat researcher demonstrates how an attacker could gain control of a hypervisor when a VM is moved from one machine to another

WASHINGTON, DC -- Black Hat DC -- A researcher here today demonstrated how an attacker could hack VMware and Xen virtualization software when a virtual machine is moved from one physical machine to another.

Jon Oberheide, a researcher and PhD candidate at the University of Michigan, is releasing a proof-of-concept tool called Xensploit that lets an attacker take over the VM’s hypervisor and applications, and grab sensitive data from the live VMs.

Oberheide says organizations don’t typically realize or consider the risk of migrating live virtual machines . The last thing they want to do is take down the live system because that would defeat the purpose of the dynamic and high-availability features you get in a VM deployment.

“Enterprises [with VMs] need to be aware of these risks and make sure they’re adequately protected,” he says.

Because the data moves in clear text during a VM migration, he says, an attacker could stage a man-in-the-middle attack on a virtual machine’s hypervisor. He demonstrated how his Xensploit tool manipulates SSH daemon-based (sshd) authentication as it crosses the wire, and then gives the attacker administrative access to the VM.

“The destination [machine] doesn’t know whether it’s been a legitimate VM migration or if it was modified by an attacker,” he says.

Oberheide says the vulnerable spot is the data plane, or the path along which the VM migration takes place. An attacker can sit in the middle and manipulate that traffic to gain access to the VM system, using techniques like route hijacking, ARP/DHCP spoofing, ICMP redirection, and DNS spoofing or poisoning, he says. There is also the possibility of passive attacks, where the bad guy could merely sniff passwords.

“The serious [attacks] would be kernel exploits,” he says, where an attacker could slip rootkits or other backdoors into memory.

Oberheide says VM vendors need to shore up the security of their software. Enterprises with VM systems, meanwhile, can set up mutual authentication between the source and destination hypervisors during a migration, and either encrypt the data plane or use a separate physical network or virtual network to isolate the migrating VMs.

Have a comment on this story? Please click "Discuss" below. If you'd like to contact Dark Reading's editors directly, send us a message.

Kelly Jackson Higgins is the Executive Editor of Dark Reading. She is an award-winning veteran technology and business journalist with more than two decades of experience in reporting and editing for various publications, including Network Computing, Secure Enterprise ... View Full Bio
 

Recommended Reading:

Comment  | 
Print  | 
More Insights
Comments
Newest First  |  Oldest First  |  Threaded View
COVID-19: Latest Security News & Commentary
Dark Reading Staff 5/27/2020
10 iOS Security Tips to Lock Down Your iPhone
Kelly Sheridan, Staff Editor, Dark Reading,  5/22/2020
How an Industry Consortium Can Reinvent Security Solution Testing
Henry Harrison, Co-founder & Chief Technology Officer, Garrison,  5/21/2020
Register for Dark Reading Newsletters
White Papers
Video
Cartoon Contest
Current Issue
How Cybersecurity Incident Response Programs Work (and Why Some Don't)
This Tech Digest takes a look at the vital role cybersecurity incident response (IR) plays in managing cyber-risk within organizations. Download the Tech Digest today to find out how well-planned IR programs can detect intrusions, contain breaches, and help an organization restore normal operations.
Flash Poll
Twitter Feed
Dark Reading - Bug Report
Bug Report
Enterprise Vulnerabilities
From DHS/US-CERT's National Vulnerability Database
CVE-2020-13632
PUBLISHED: 2020-05-27
ext/fts3/fts3_snippet.c in SQLite before 3.32.0 has a NULL pointer dereference via a crafted matchinfo() query.
CVE-2020-13253
PUBLISHED: 2020-05-27
sd_wp_addr in hw/sd/sd.c in QEMU 4.2.0 uses an unvalidated address, which leads to an out-of-bounds read during sdhci_write() operations. A guest OS user can crash the QEMU process.
CVE-2020-13630
PUBLISHED: 2020-05-27
ext/fts3/fts3.c in SQLite before 3.32.0 has a use-after-free in fts3EvalNextRow, related to the snippet feature.
CVE-2020-13631
PUBLISHED: 2020-05-27
SQLite before 3.32.0 allows a virtual table to be renamed to the name of one of its shadow tables, related to alter.c and build.c.
CVE-2020-4226
PUBLISHED: 2020-05-27
IBM MobileFirst Platform Foundation 8.0.0.0 stores highly sensitive information in URL parameters. This may lead to information disclosure if unauthorized parties have access to the URLs via server logs, referrer header or browser history. IBM X-Force ID: 175207.