VENOM – A New Computer Virus Poisoning The Virtual World

First published 2015

In the world where we are going viral and putting a lot of invaluable information out there on the internet, how safe it is to trust this software? Now, for instance, there is cloud computing. This is one of the most used and renowned services that everyone is familiar with. And people go onboard to put a lot of private, public and other types of information through this portal so that when they do lose the hard copy, it is safe in here.

Now, though cloud computing, no two persons will have the chance to access the same information as yours, so your privacy is discreet and safe. But with the current scenario and the threats increasing in the cyber world, there might be a possibility that a portion of your network might be used by someone else in another system. Should we be worried? In a normal situation, there is no problem as such because the virtual machines are built for the purpose of ensuring that the same information doesn’t impact other’s system, hence securing whatever a user puts on their cloud.

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But the recent studies have shown that there have been many cases wherein it was found that some bug had led to the breakdown of this powerful and safe walls, which in turn will affect the information shared by all the people. The myth earlier believed by people that a virtual machine could save up all your data and make it isolated from other people’s data has been bursted and with this new bug, the single container separating these information and virtual machines can actually be broken down and your information might not be that safe anymore.

To provide a simple analogy, in a building, everyone has access to the same water tank and other such common facility, but their rooms remains private and nothing goes out of the rooms but is a person has access to a master key, then he can enter all the rooms with ease. This is the case with this bug that has been recently discovered and might not be a very good sign for the people who are media prone. The bug has been officially named as VENOM which stands for “virtualized environment neglected operations manipulation”. This is the bug that is known to be pervading the virtual machines of the systems and hanging as a major threat to the cyber world. The popular virtualization platforms that it can affect or might have already impacted are the Xen, KVM and QEMU virtual machines and appliances. Now, it has been noted a highly daunting bug and just like the vulnerability bug – Heartbleed which was in the news last year, this might also become a major threat.

Now, this bug is a very big threat because if it can enter one virtual machine, then it will get access to other virtual machines that are built on the same hardware. Scary it is, just like its name. But on the brighter side, some major data centers have already taken note of this potential bug or malware and have patched their systems. Not all the major data centers have been affected by VENOM and one of the largest virtual information provider and data center- Amazon has already cleared the air stating that their systems are not affected by VENOM and so far everything on their system is very much secure and safe.

Other major data centers like Linode and Rackspace who are working through virtualization have also come forward and told their users that the portion of their system that has been affected by VENOM has been patched up already and everything is safe. Also, no action is required on the user’s part, and these companies have everything under control. Another company Digital Ocean has updated saying that they will have to reboot part of their hypervisors to ensure complete safety against this new bug. So, the companies have already done their bit and for some reason it is not enough as some might require a full-fledged reboot that is what the users today hate. Such bugs are not noted or have been the source of threat for the first time; there have been many bugs in the past too. But, what most people right now need to do is contact their companies and ask them the impact of VENOM and how are they planning to go about to minimize or totally diminish their effect.

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Now, what we assume to be the safest place has turned out to show some major glitches and people do not like it. Cyber security is a major concern and to ensure that such bugs are not the major cause of tension; the security needs to be tightened and that can be done only by watching the internet for 24X7 that requires a large main force.