Browse Definitions:
Definition

virtual machine escape

Virtual machine escape is an exploit in which the attacker runs code on a VM that allows an operating system running within it to break out and interact directly with the hypervisor.

Such an exploit could give the attacker access to the host operating system and all other virtual machines (VMs) running on that host. Although there have been no incidents reported in the wild, VM escape is considered to be the most serious threat to virtual machine security.

Virtual machines are designed to run in self-contained, isolated environments in the host. Each VM should be, in effect, a separate system, isolated from the host operating system and any other VMs running on the same machine. The hypervisor is an intermediary between the host operating system and virtual machines. It controls the host processor and allocates resources as required to each guest operating system. 

Here's Ed Skoudis' explanation of the risk:

"If the attacker can compromise the virtual machines, they will likely have control of all of the guests, since the guests are merely subsets of the program itself. Also, most virtual machines run with very high privileges on the host because a virtual machine needs comprehensive access to the host's hardware so it can then map the real hardware into virtualized hardware for the guests. Thus, compromising the virtual machine means not only that the guests are goners, but the host is also likely lost."

To minimize vulnerability to VM escape, Skoudis recommends that you:

  • Keep virtual machine software patched.
  • Install only the resource-sharing features that you really need.
  • Keep software installations to a minimum because each program brings its own vulnerabilities.
This was last updated in April 2016

Continue Reading About virtual machine escape

Start the conversation

Send me notifications when other members comment.

By submitting you agree to receive email from TechTarget and its partners. If you reside outside of the United States, you consent to having your personal data transferred to and processed in the United States. Privacy

Please create a username to comment.

-ADS BY GOOGLE

File Extensions and File Formats

Powered by:

SearchCompliance

  • PCAOB (Public Company Accounting Oversight Board)

    The Public Company Accounting Oversight Board (PCAOB) is a Congressionally-established nonprofit that assesses audits of public ...

  • cyborg anthropologist

    A cyborg anthropologist is an individual who studies the interaction between humans and technology, observing how technology can ...

  • RegTech

    RegTech, or regulatory technology, is a term used to describe technology that is used to help streamline the process of ...

SearchSecurity

  • Advanced Encryption Standard (AES)

    The Advanced Encryption Standard, or AES, is a symmetric block cipher used by the U.S. government to protect classified ...

  • identity theft

    Identity theft, also known as identity fraud, is a crime in which an imposter obtains key pieces of personally identifiable ...

  • spear phishing

    Spear phishing is an email-spoofing attack that targets a specific organization or individual, seeking unauthorized access to ...

SearchHealthIT

SearchDisasterRecovery

  • call tree

    A call tree -- sometimes referred to as a phone tree -- is a telecommunications chain for notifying specific individuals of an ...

  • mass notification system (MNS)

    A mass notification system is a platform that sends one-way messages to inform employees and the public of an emergency.

  • disaster recovery as a service (DRaaS)

    One approach to a strong disaster recovery plan is DRaaS, where companies offload data replication and restoration ...

SearchStorage

  • CIFS (Common Internet File System)

    CIFS (Common Internet File System) is a protocol that gained popularity around the year 2000, as vendors worked to establish an ...

  • GlusterFS (Gluster File System)

    GlusterFS (Gluster File System) is an open source distributed file system that can scale out in building-block fashion to store ...

  • virtual memory

    Virtual memory is a memory management capability of an OS that allows a computer to compensate for physical memory shortages by ...

SearchSolidStateStorage

  • Tier 0

    Tier 0 (tier zero) is a level of data storage that is faster, and perhaps more expensive, than any other level in the storage ...

  • PCIe SSD (PCIe solid-state drive)

    A PCIe SSD (PCIe solid-state drive) is a high-speed expansion card that attaches a computer to its peripherals.

  • SSD caching

    SSD caching, also known as flash caching, is the temporary storage of data on NAND flash memory chips in a solid-state drive so ...

SearchCloudStorage

  • RESTful API

    A RESTful application program interface breaks down a transaction to create a series of small modules, each of which addresses an...

  • cloud storage infrastructure

    Cloud storage infrastructure is the hardware and software framework that supports the computing requirements of a private or ...

  • Zadara VPSA and ZIOS

    Zadara Storage provides block, file or object storage with varying levels of compute and capacity through its ZIOS and VPSA ...

Close