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Category Archives: Security

SSH keys when using Lockdown Mode – A 5.x Hardening Guide update

Hi,

I was informed today that there is a behavior in the 5.1 through 5.5 Update 1 Hardening Guides that is incorrectly documented.

The two affected guidelines are:

  • ESXi.enable-lockdown-mode
  • ESXi.remove-authorized-keys

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vSphere IAAS Interoperability: Virtual SAN, NSX, OpenStack

VSAN-NSX-OpenStackJust in time and right before everyone is off on a long 4th of July weekend here in the good old U.S. of A, I wanted to share a integration demo that I’ve been holding for some time now. Hopefully everyone can see the fireworks delivered by the demo as well.

In this demonstration we’re showcasing the advanced IAAS features and deep integration of vSphere with Virtual SAN, and NSX using Openstack as the Cloud Management Portal for a multi tenant IAAS platform.  To prove our point here, this is not just some isolated lab environment, this is a real environment running today and its leveraging currently available technologies.

The  environment utilized in this demonstration is actually the NSBU internal cloud which has over 200 environment as a mix of KVM and vSphere.  Virtual SAN is used for all vSphere data stores and NSX is used for all tenant connectivity with OpenStack providing a scalable and secure multi-tenant, multi-hypervisor environment.

This demonstration showcases the agility and flexibility of the integration capabilities of vSphere, NSX and Virtual SAN.  In the demonstration we rapidly standup of a two tier ‘application’ and demonstrate the connectivity between all elements of the virtual machines providing the applications.

When complete, all instances, networks and routers are decommissioned and the tenant is returned to an ‘empty state’.  The whole process takes less than 10 minutes (as can be seen in the instance uptime section in the horizon UI).

vSphere Hardening Guide 5.5 Update 1 Released!

I’m happy to announce the general availability of the vSphere Hardening Guide for vSphere 5.5 Update 1. This has been a work in progress for a little while now and I’m glad to get it out there!

There are 4 new additions to the guide. Please review.

  1. enable-VGA-Only-Mode: Used for server VM’s that don’t need a graphical console. e.g. Linux web servers, Windows Core, etc.
  2. disable-non-essential-3D-features: Remove 3D graphic capabilities from VM’s that don’t need them.
  3. use-unique-roles: A new companion control to use-service-accounts. If you have multiple service accounts then each one should have a unique role with just enough privs to accomplish their task. This is in line with least-priv operations
  4. change-sso-admin-password: A great catch. When installing Windows vCenter, you’re prompted to change the password of administrator@vsphere.local. When installing the VCSA in a default manner you are not. This control reminds you to go back and do that.

The rest are formatting, spelling, clarification, etc.. One interesting change is the “enable-nfc-ssl” control. That has been renamed to “verify-nfc-ssl” now that SSL is enabled by default in 5.5 for NFC traffic. All of the changes are called out in the Change Log.

I’d like to thank the many customers and internal folks who have contributed and pointed out the errors that needed correcting. It’s great to have so many folks that are willing to pitch in!

Head on over to the vSphere Hardening Guide page to grab your copy now!

Thanks and please feel free to contact me on Twitter at @vspheresecurity or email to mfoley at vmware.com if you have any input you’d like to share.

Enjoy!

mike

Does Enhanced vMotion Compatibility (EVC) Affect Performance?

YES!

Now that I’ve scared you, lets take a look at these use cases.

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vSphere Hardening Guide 5.5 Update 1 Beta 2 released

After a lot of great feedback from the community, here’s Beta 2.1 of the vSphere Hardening Guide for vSphere 5.5 Update 1.

There were some editing mishaps (cut off cells in the Excel sheet) that have been fixed since the Beta 1 release.

Also, all the *-no-self-signed-certs guidelines have been updated to be more in line with the contents in the ESX Security Whitepaper.

You can get the Beta 2.1 of the guide from the Security and Compliance Community.

The goal is to release this updated Hardening Guide the 1st week of June.

Thanks for all the great feedback. I look forward to getting more!

If you want to keep it private, send me email. mfoley at vmware dot com. I’ll return your emails as quickly as I can.

mike

vSphere Hardening Guide 5.5 Update 1 Beta released

Hi everyone,

It’s that time again! Actually, it’s the first time that I’m aware of that the vSphere hardening guide has been updated between major releases! Please head on over to the Security and Compliance VMware Community and download the beta of the vSphere 5.5 Update 1 Hardening Guide.

This is a beta release of the guide and as such, I would very much appreciate your prompt feedback. Please reply here or in the Community THIS WEEK. I’d like to release this for General Availability next week.

Here are the proposed changes in the guide.

There are 4 new additions to the guide. Please review.

  1. enable-VGA-Only-Mode: Used for server VM’s that don’t need a graphical console. e.g. Linux web servers, Windows Core, etc.
  2. disable-non-essential-3D-features: Remove 3D graphic capabilities from VM’s that don’t need them.
  3. use-unique-roles: A new companion control to use-service-accounts. If you have multiple service accounts then each one should have a unique role with just enough privs to accomplish their task. This is in line with least-priv operations
  4. change-sso-admin-password: A great catch. When installing Windows vCenter, you’re prompted to change the password of administrator@vsphere.local. When installing the VCSA in a default manner you are not. This control reminds you to go back and do that.

The rest are formatting, spelling, clarification, etc..

I had considered removing “disable-datastore-browser” and “disable-mob“. I’m holding off at the moment on those. I think they add more trouble than they protect but I’d like to get more input. Feedback on these two would be GREATLY appreciated.

Remember, I really do listen to your feedback. This is as much your guide as it is VMware’s. I look forward to your comments!

mike

What happened to that Hardening Guide setting?

Hi!

As usual, most of my blog posts come from customer or field questions. Here’s a new one crossed my path recently.

A customer, running vSphere 5.1, was finding some anomalies within their VM’s. Their belief was that some of the vSphere Hardening Guide settings were causing it. When this was assigned to me, I noticed that they were referencing the vSphere 4.1 hardening guide!

The customer was applying guidelines from the 4.1 guide against a 5.1 system. They believed that the guideline was still relevant because it was referenced in a KB. (I’m going to try and get that fixed!)

The guideline setting is “guest.commands.enabled”. The 4.1 guide said to set this to False. The 4.1 guide AND the KB both state that setting this to False would disable the operation of VMware Consolidated Backup (VCB) and VMware Update Manager (VUM), both of which call the VIX API for guest operations.

Cue the old Henny Youngman “Doc, it hurts when I do this!” so the Doctor says “Don’t do that!”  Thanks, I’ll be here all week. Try the veal! <rimshot>

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vSphere Distributed Switch, Traffic Filtering

When talking with customers about our vSphere Distributed Switch I often find that they don’t know about a feature in the Traffic Filtering policy engine that allows for creation of Access Control Lists or ACLs. This is in additional to being able to tag traffic and pass Quality of Service (QoS) or Differentiated services Code Point (DSCP) values up to the physical network for prioritization.

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Security Updates in vSphere 5.5 Update 1 + Hardening Guide news

5.5 Update 1 Release Notes

vSphere 5.5 Update 1 was released on March 11th, 2014. The primary drivers for this release were lots of bug fixes and support for VSAN. At the risk of duplicating a huge amount of the release notes, please review in detail those things that are important to you. There’s a number of things in Upgrade and Installation and there’s a specific Security section that would be of interest. Also review the Known Issues section as there’s some interesting tidbits in there as well.

5.5 Hardening Guide Update

I will be releasing an update to the vSphere Hardening Guide to go along with 5.5 Update 1 in the next couple of weeks. I’ve been collecting updates since it was released shortly after 5.5. No MAJOR changes, just minor fixes and a couple of clarifications and at least one deletion. More on this soon. I know it’s a hot button for some folks.

If there’s something YOU think needs to be corrected, now is the time to let me know!

Get in touch as a reply to this blog or preferably an email to me. I’m mfoley at VMware.com.

Thanks,

mike

Restricting Access to the ESXi Host Console – Revisiting Lockdown Mode

I’ve had a number of requests for recommendations on the “best way” to restrict access to the ESXi host console. While this is easily done using the ESXi Lockdown Mode feature I’m finding there are some admins who are still under the impression that lockdown mode doesn’t work, and in order to prevent access to the host console you need to disable the console service. While there were some challenges with lockdown mode in the past, things changed in ESXi 5.1.

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