Data center IT departments fear targeted attacks

IT departments are now turning to virtualization, with half of the respondents having either implemented or are planning to deploy private clouds, according to a McAfee study.

Yet, as organizations continue to progress down the path of implementing virtualization and cloud computing, they are facing inherent challenges that arise when applications are decoupled from the physical resources they rely on, introducing new obstacles such as traffic bottlenecks, inconsistent network policies and security loopholes.

The survey shows that 62 percent of respondents are planning or engaged in data center upgrades, many due to increased use of virtualization. Additionally, 29 percent of the respondents report that scaling server virtualization is a concern and 32 percent report that bandwidth and traffic engineering are pressing issues.

The results show that virtualization comes at a cost and that traditional networking architectures are not always best-suited to handle the demands of a virtualized environment. Application security can fail when subjected to data center-wide server virtualization and application mobility.

“Companies investing in full scale virtualization are now running into network and security challenges,” said Rees Johnson, senior vice president and general manager for network security, McAfee.

Respondents view targeted attacks and security breaches as the biggest threats to the next-generation data center. When asked to rate security challenges, 77 percent rate threat protection (i.e., intrusion prevention) as “critical” or “important”.

Twenty-six percent view targeted attacks as their biggest concerns and 24 percent think security breaches are their biggest concerns. However, although half are relying on the same security model for virtualization they used with physical servers, 18 percent have not decided this is the best approach when securing virtual servers.

“Virtualization, especially in the context of private clouds, introduces unique operational and security challenges,” said Johnson. “The ability to move virtual machines is essential to creating flexible virtual data centers, yet this same flexibility introduces operational complexity and makes it much more difficult to maintain traditional trust boundaries.”

In the survey, 40 percent of respondents said that moving virtual machines is challenging because it introduces operational complexity and 25 percent indicated a concern with securing trust boundaries.

The complete survey is available here.

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Data center IT departments fear targeted attacks