Is it Safe to Run a Virus from a Virtual Machine?


Is it Safe to Run a Virus from a Virtual Machine?

Is it Safe to Run a Virus from a Virtual Machine?

Using a virtual machine has been a great way for people to boost their productivity because of how virtual machines are able to allow them to run different operating systems all at the same time while using only one computer. But, because these virtual machines are treated as different operating systems, does it mean that the viruses treat them separately as well? Is it safe to run a virus from a virtual machine?

It is generally safe for you to run a virus from a virtual machine as long as you are making sure that the virtual machine is isolated well enough from the host computer. However, if you do not isolate it well enough, there is a chance that you will end up compromising the health of the host.

True enough, virtual machines are usually safe but their safety is still dependent on how you use them and how well you configured your settings to ensure the safety of your host computer. That means that the safety of your host computer is more likely a function of the one running the virtual machine instead of the virtual machine itself.

Is a virtual machine secure?

One of the easiest ways for your computer to get infected by a virus is carelessness on your part. There might come a time where you would end up visiting a questionable website whenever you are looking for a certain page. At times, you might even open emails that are obviously questionable as well but you were too careless to care about its authenticity. In such cases, it would be quite easy for viruses and malware to find their way into your computer to sabotage and take over your systems.

So, when it comes to safety, there are some people who would actually recommend the use of a virtual machine to improve the safety of a company’s computers and to make sure that an individual decreases his or her chances of getting his or her computer infected by viruses and malware. But, how true is that?

Well, generally speaking, because a virtual machine is treated as a separate computer with its own operating system even if it is merely operating through your host computer, you may be able to feel more secure using them especially when it comes to the different risks that come with using the internet and visiting different websites.

However, that isn’t a complete solution to your safety issues regarding the internet. Of course, because your virtual machine is still running from the hardware of your host computer, the security risks whenever you are on the internet will not disappear. 

Sure enough, it will take some time for hackers and for different people to get through a virtual machine to penetrate your host computer but using a virtual machine is not an end-all solution to decreasing the security risks when it comes to the different dangerous sides of using the internet.

Is it safe to run a virus on a virtual machine?

So, while virtual machines are generally safer than using the host computer when it comes to fishy (and phishy) stuff on the internet, does it also mean that it is safe to run a virus on a virtual machine?

Similar to how there is no guaranteed safety when it comes to the overall security of your computer when you are using a virtual machine, it also isn’t guaranteed that you would be able to run a virus safely on a virtual machine because, as aforementioned, the virtual machine is still using your host computer’s hardware and is also connected to the same network.

As such, the reason why it isn’t generally safe to run a virus on a virtual machine is that most virtual machines are set up in a way that they regularly communicate with the host computer through shared folders and a shared network wherein they share the same IP address. 

While doing so will make it easier for you to work seamlessly between the host computer and the virtual machine, the opportunity cost is that you will be trading off the security of your host especially when it comes to viruses.

That being the case, while you may be able to run viruses from a virtual machine without infecting the host computer, you should still be aware that there is still a chance if you are not careful or if you allowed the two systems to regularly communicate with one another. So, it might be better for you to never run viruses on any of your systems whether they be virtual machines or the host computers.

How to run a virus on a virtual machine?

Still though, if you insist on running viruses or opening sketchy websites and emails on your virtual machine for one reason or another, there is a way for you to run them safely on the virtual machine while minimizing the risk of the viruses infecting your host. Here is how you do it:

  • Disable file sharing and shared clipboard between your virtual machine and the host computer to decrease the chances of them communicating with one another.
  • Partition your disk such that your virtual machine is using a hard drive that is separate from the one your host is using.
  • Disable all of the USB settings on your virtual machine.
  • Disconnect your virtual machine from the network or, at the very least, set the network configurations up in a way that the virtual machine and the host computer have completely separate IP addresses.
  • Check and make sure that every hardware or device that is shared by your virtual machine and your host computer is disconnected. This allows you to completely isolate the virtual machine and make it look like a completely different machine.
  • Before opening a questionable file, disconnect your virtual machine from the internet or from the network so that any virus or malware won’t be able to escape through the network.

Sources:
https://gigmocha.com/can-a-virtual-machines-infect-its-host/

https://theintercept.com/2015/09/16/getting-hacked-doesnt-bad/
https://www.csoonline.com/article/2633050/re-thinking-the-security-of-virtual-machines.html

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