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 Virtualization: A double-edged sword

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Virtualization became recently a hot topic once again, after being dormant for more than twenty years. In the meantime, it has been almost forgotten, that virtual machines are not so perfect isolating environments as it seems, when looking at the principles. These lessons were already learnt earlier when the first virtualized systems have been exposed to real life usage. Contemporary virtualization software enables instant creation and destruction of virtual machines on a host, live migration from one host to another, execution history manipulation, etc. These features are very useful in practice, but also causing headaches among security specialists, especially in current hostile network environments. In the present contribution we discuss the principles, potential benefits and risks of virtualization in a deja vu perspective, related to previous experiences with virtualization in the mainframe era.

Author: Joachim J. Wlodarz


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