Network security as we know it ultimately will operate hand in hand with software-defined networking (SDN) and virtualization, security experts said at Interop 2016.
SDN could be a game-changer like virtual machines were, says Cameron Camp, a security researcher at ESET, “If you understand it and know how to do the hard work of network security, you’re going to do better with SDN,” he says.
It’s a logical evolution: as the network and its services become more software-driven and virtualized, it only makes sense that security would join the party. SDN is an emerging network architecture that is becoming popular in data centers.
But a software-defined network architecture comes with some security risks of its own. It leaves organizations open to internal distributed denial-of-service (DDoS) attacks, says Camp, who in a presentation here tomorrow will show how malware can enter virtual environments. It’s possible to hack a virtual machine and basically “blow up that whole box and the network with it,” he says.
“You can take the first few digits of a MAC address and ... know it’s a VM,” he says. “You can take that VM and pop it and do resource-exhaustion” and use that to DDoS the SDN. That would be an ironic twist, of course, since SDN can be used to mitigate external DDoS attacks.
“You have to start looking at internal DDoS defense, but no one is doing it,” he says. “You have to start thinking about ways you would attack this network: SDN has VMs ... and there are going to be larger enterprises that are going to be hit because it’s a more expansive attack surface. If you can get into one of those VMs .. you can tailor your payload and see it’s easy to destroy and pivot.”
The best bet for protection would be to incorporate network defenses within those same boxes, Camp and other experts say.
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