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What's up with the Anonymous hackfest?

Ellen Messmer and Brandon Butler | Nov. 6, 2012
Hackers apparently linked to the hactivist group Anonymous today kept up a hacking spree to dump data they said they stole from Symantec, VMware, PayPal, Hyundai, and the U.S. Department of Energy and Transportation, among others.

VMware said more related files could be released as well. "As a matter of best practices with respect to security, VMware strongly encourages all customers to apply the latest product updates and security patches made available for their specific environment," wrote VMware Director of Platform Security Iain Mulholland, adding a recommendation for customers to review security hardening guidelines posted by VMware. Additional requests for comment form VMware on Monday regarding the situation were not responded to.

Jon Oltsik, an ESG senior principal analyst, says the newest release of ESX code raises the risk exposure for customers. Patches and service bulletins should be monitored closely in the coming days by concerned users. "Even though the source code is old, some of it is likely the foundation of modern day ESX," he says. "Cybercriminals now have a recipe for potential vulnerabilities to research and exploit. I would imagine a spike in VMware-focused malware as a result."

Oltsik recommends that customers assess their data center securities at both the network and host-based levels for things like network segmentation and ACLs, and ensure that security controls such as firewalls, IDS/IPS and WAF are all up to date. As a precaution, customers can also block access to data center VMs that don't need to be accessed over public networks.

VMware, meanwhile, needs to do its due diligence as well. "VMware needs to be extremely visible with security even if this turns out to be a non-issue," Oltsik says. "There are a lot of nervous folks out there."


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