Hardware/Server Virtualization is a foundational technology in a cloud computing environment and the hypervisor is the key software in that virtualized infrastructure. However, hypervisors are large pieces of software with several thousand lines of code and are therefore known to have vulnerabilities. Hence, a capability to perform forensic analysis to detect, reconstruct and prevent attacks based on vulnerabilities on an ongoing basis is a critical requirement in cloud environments.
To gain a better understanding of recent hypervisor vulnerabilities and attack trends, identify forensic information needed to reveal the presence of such attacks, and develop guidance on taking proactive steps to detect and prevent those attacks, NIST has published NIST Internal Report (NISTIR) 8221, A Methodology for Enabling Forensic Analysis Using Hypervisor Vulnerabilities Data, which outlines a methodology to enable this forensic analysis.
Two open-source hypervisors—Xen and Kernel-based Virtual Machine (KVM)—were chosen as platforms to illustrate the methodology; the source for vulnerability data is NIST’s National Vulnerability Database (NVD). The methodology is broken into three steps: