What Is Virtual Machine Security?
In addition to being accessible, virtual machines and their applications are easy to use no matter your skill level. However, some would argue that the security they offer is the best feature of using them, whether for business or personal use. But what is virtual machine security in the first place?
Virtual machine security is accomplished by several factors, including snapshots, scanning for malware, and the ability to delete and remake if it becomes compromised. Many businesses and developers use these features to try out new software or investigate viruses.
This article will discuss the advantages of virtual machines, potential challenges that the user could encounter, and how they improve security.
Why Choose a Virtual Machine
When exploring incompatible programs or investigating new software, there are a lot of problems that could occur. Viruses and anti-malware are just some of the issues that a user could run into. Additionally, it isn’t easy to justify buying a new computer system just for an application that isn’t compatible with your Operating System.
Virtual machines can be referred to as a “guest” on your host computer, allowing users to take different risks or try out new software that they normally wouldn’t. Available from numerous applications, most versions are free, and they’re extremely user-friendly. It’s easy to see the many benefits of using a virtual machine. However, there are some challenges, as well.
Advantages of Using Virtual Machines
Virtual machines are popular because they provide the user with so many great advantages. They can be used by anyone, including a large multi-million dollar company or as a hobby, and for any reason. The opportunity to experiment, investigate, or create without worrying so much about the repercussions.
- Testing different applications, websites, or programs from various perspectives. Developers can use virtual machines to work out any kinks or issues with whatever they’re working on without damaging their computer. This is also a great way to try out anti-malware software without having to fear their outcome. If the virtual machine does get infected or is no longer performing efficiently, it can be deleted and remade easily.
- Virtual machines are easy to create. Because of their many potential uses, someone could create multiple. Most applications even offer the option to group virtual machines together so that the user can remain organized.
- They allow users to try out multiple operating systems. For example, Mac users can work with programs for Windows users using the Parallels application. This is a great option for those that require software specific to a certain operating system without having to buy a new computer.
If you’re interested in learning more about the benefits of virtual machines, take a look at this cool video from Eye on Tech:
Potential Challenges Users Can Face
Virtual machines are popular because they provide so many benefits. However, there’s a possibility that the user can encounter some challenges. Among these potential issues include:
- The snapshots and backups of virtual machines take up space. This can be easily remedied by purchasing an external hard drive, such as an SSD. These are great to update your current set-up but can be pricey. I would recommend the Netac SSD from Amazon.com, which comes in four options for capacity for a good economical choice.
- Compared to your physical computer, the performance of virtual machines isn’t as good. This performance can be monitored using many tools, but the management of your virtual machine is critical. A potential resource shortage, which is common for the host computer, can be reduced by handling data correctly.
- Backing up a virtual machine is difficult. As there’s no physical hard drive to back up a virtual machine, the software is available to provide backup tools for the user. Snapshots are also a good way to ensure that there’s something to revert to if something goes awry.
If you do run into an issue, there are many resources available to help. Manufacturer’s websites and public forums provide valuable information on overcoming challenges that other users may have faced. Additionally, many of those with experience create videos on how to use certain tools or various programs. As they can share their screen in the video, they can walk you step by step through any problems you may be facing.
Furthermore, the comment sections also allow others to provide additional feedback and advice, although some are more helpful than others. To learn more about virtual machine troubleshooting, watch this video from Pluralsight:
How Virtual Machines Improve Security
Virtualization, or the process of using virtual spaces, is a great idea to maximize security and minimize potential risks. There are various ways that security is improved, including snapshots, deleting and restarting, and scanning using external programs. Many developers of different software and businesses utilize virtual machines because of these reasons.
Take a Snapshot of Your Virtual Machine
Taking a snapshot of your virtual machine allows it to be restored to that point in time if it becomes infected or unusable. It’s possible to take a snapshot at any time or have your program automatically take one whenever it’s powered off. When you revert to this snapshot using the application’s tools, you’re able to re-establish settings, the state of the disk, and what data is stored in the memory.
For a great video on how to take a snapshot of your virtual machine using VirtualBox, check out this video from Corey Schafer:
Delete Your Virtual Machine and Start From Scratch
If your virtual machine does become compromised because of a virus or other malicious software, it’s easy to delete it and make another one. Applications make it easy to create multiple virtual machines, as many users have different uses for each one. Additionally, some people use virtual machines to test out or investigate the effects of a virus. In these cases, they would delete it after some time and restart.
For an example on how to use your virtual machine to test malware, watch this video from MAXCyberDefense:
If you plan on creating various virtual machines, it’s a good idea to group them. This could be based on purpose, Operating System, or numerous other factors. For the interest of data storage, it’s highly recommended to purchase an external drive to store your virtual machines.
Scan Your Virtual Machine
Using an external program, you can scan your entire virtual machine for malicious software. This way, it’s easy to tell what’s infected and what’s safe to access. If used and the other security measures available, the virtual machine can be deleted if infected or reverted to a snapshot.
Additionally, you can install anti-malware software within the virtual machine to protect it from the inside. The best options for this software would depend on the user’s needs and what Operating System you’re running.
Virtual machines offer many advantages to the user and are easy to use and accessible to many. Some of these benefits include trying out new OS, incompatible or old software, and using a different platform. Security is one reason people use virtual machines, as they offer additional protection against viruses and malware.
If your virtual machine does become infected, the user can take several steps. Using a snapshot can revert to this so that no established settings or data are lost. Alternatively, the virtual machine can be deleted and remade.
- IBM: Virtual Machines
- How-To Geek: How to Create and Use Virtual Machines
- Tech Target: 4 steps to ensure virtual machine security in cloud computing
- The Intercept: With Virtual Machines, Getting Hacked Isn’t That Bad
- Techopedia: 10 Ways Virtualization Can Improve Security
- Parallels: Virtual Machine and its Benefits
- Make Use Of: 7 Practical Reasons to Start Using a Virtual Machine
- TechAdvisory.org: What are the common challenges of virtualization?