Article | December 7, 2021
It’s an impactful release focused on significant NSX Security enhancements
Putting a hard shell around a soft core is not a recipe for success in security, but somehow legacy security architectures for application protection have often looked exactly like that: a hard perimeter firewall layer for an application infrastructure that was fundamentally not built with security as a primary concern. VMware NSX Distributed Firewall pioneered the micro-segmentation concept for granular access controls for cloud applications with the initial launch of the product in 2013. The promise of Zero Trust security for applications, the simplicity of deployment of the solution, and the ease of achieving internal security objectives made NSX an instant success for security-sensitive customers.
Our newest release — NSX-T 3.2 — establishes a new marker for securing application infrastructure by introducing significant new features to identify and respond to malware and ransomware attacks in the network, to enhance user identification and L7 application identification capabilities, and, at the same time, to simplify deployment of the product for our customers.
Modern day security teams need to secure mission-critical infrastructure from both external and internal attacks. By providing unprecedented threat visibility leveraging IDS, NTA, and Network Detection and Response (NDR) capabilities along with granular controls leveraging L4-L7 Firewall, IPS, and Malware Prevention capabilities, NSX 3.2 delivers an incredible security solution for our customers“
Umesh Mahajan, SVP, GM (Networking and Security Business Unit)
Distributed Advanced Threat Prevention (ATP)
Attackers often use multiple sophisticated techniques to penetrate the network, move laterally within the network in a stealthy manner, and exfiltrate critical data at an appropriate time. Micro-segmentation solutions focused solely on access control can reduce the attack surface — but cannot provide the detection and prevention technologies needed to thwart modern attacks. NSX-T 3.2 introduces several new capabilities focused on detection and prevention of attacks inside the network. Of critical note is that these advanced security solutions do not need network taps, separate monitoring networks, or agents inside each and every workload.
Distributed Malware Prevention
Lastline’s highly reputed dynamic malware technology is now integrated with NSX Distributed Firewall to deliver an industry-first Distributed Malware Prevention solution. Leveraging the integration with Lastline, a Distributed Firewall embedded within the hypervisor kernel can now identify both “known malicious” as well as “zero day” malware
Distributed Behavioral IDS
Whereas earlier versions of NSX Distributed IDPS (Intrusion Detection and Prevention System) delivered primarily signature-based detection of intrusions, NSX 3.2 introduces “behavioral” intrusion detection capabilities as well. Even if specific IDS signatures are not triggered, this capability helps customers know whether a workload is seeing any behavioral anomalies, like DNS tunneling or beaconing, for example, that could be a cause for concern.
Network Traffic Analysis (NTA)
For customers interested in baselining network-wide behavior and identifying anomalous behavior at the aggregated network level, NSX-T 3.2 introduces Distributed Network Traffic Analysis (NTA). Network-wide anomalies like lateral movement, suspicious RDP traffic, and malicious interactions with the Active Directory server, for example, can alert security teams about attacks underway and help them take quick remediation actions.
Network Detection and Response (NDR)
Alert overload, and resulting fatigue, is a real challenge among security teams. Leveraging advanced AI/ML techniques, the NSX-T 3.2 Network Detection and Response solution consolidates security IOCs from different detection systems like IDS, NTA, malware detection. etc., to provide a ”campaign view” that shows specific attacks in play at that point in time. MITRE ATT&CK visualization helps customers see the specific stage in the kill chain of individual attacks, and the ”time sequence” view helps understand the sequence of events that contributed to the attack on the network.
Key Firewall Enhancements
While delivering new Advanced Threat Prevention capabilities is one key emphasis for the NSX-T 3.2 release, providing meaningful enhancements for core firewalling capabilities is an equally critical area of innovation.
Distributed Firewall for VDS Switchports
While NSX-T has thus far supported workloads connected to both overlay-based N-VDS switchports as well as VLAN-based switchports, customers had to move the VLAN switchports from VDS to N-VDS before a Distributed Firewall could be enforced. With NSX-T 3.2, native VLAN DVPGs are supported as-is, without having to move to N-VDS. Effectively, Distributed Security can be achieved in a completely seamless manner without having to modify any networking constructs.
Distributed Firewall workflows in vCenter
With NSX-T 3.2, we are introducing the ability to create and modify Distributed Firewall rules natively within vCenter. For small- to medium-sized VMware customers, this feature simplifies the user experience by eliminating the need to leverage a separate NSX Manager interface.
Advanced User Identification for Distributed and Gateway Firewalls
NSX supported user identity-based access control in earlier releases. With NSX-T 3.2, we’re introducing the ability to directly connect to Microsoft Active Directory to support user identity mapping. In addition, for customers who do not use Active Directory for user authentication, NSX also supports VMware vRealize LogInsight as an additional method to carry out user identity mapping. This feature enhancement is applicable for both NSX Distributed Firewall as well as NSX Gateway Firewall.
Enhanced L7 Application Identification for Distributed and Gateway Firewalls
NSX supported Layer-7 application identification-based access control in earlier releases. With NSX-T 3.2, we are enhancing the signature set to about 750 applications. While several perimeter firewall vendors claim a larger set of Layer-7 application signatures, they focus mostly on internet application identification (like Facebook, for example). Our focus with NSX at this time is on internal applications hosted by enterprises. This feature enhancement is applicable for both NSX Distributed Firewall as well as Gateway Firewalls.
NSX Intelligence is geared towards delivering unprecedented visibility for all application traffic inside the network and enabling customers to create micro-segmentation policies to reduce the attack surface. It has a processing pipeline that de-dups, aggregates, and correlates East-West traffic to deliver in-depth visibility.
Scalability enhancements for NSX Intelligence
As application infrastructure grows rapidly, it is vital that one’s security analytics platform can grow with it. With the new release, we have rearchitected the application platform upon which NSX Intelligence runs — moving from a stand-alone appliance to a containerized micro-service architecture powered by Kubernetes. This architectural change future-proofs the Intelligence data lake and allows us to eventually scale out our solution to n-node Kubernetes clusters.
Large Enterprise customers that need visibility for application traffic can confidently deploy NSX Intelligence and leverage the enhanced scale it supports.
NSX Gateway Firewall
While NSX Distributed Firewall focuses on east-west controls within the network, NSX Gateway Firewall is used for securing ingress and egress traffic into and out of a zone.
Gateway Firewall Malware Detection
NSX Gateway Firewall in the 3.2 release received significant Advanced Threat Detection capabilities. Gateway Firewall can now identify both known as well as zero-day malware ingressing or egressing the network. This new capability is based on the Gateway Firewall integration with Lastline’s highly reputed dynamic network sandbox technology.
Gateway Firewall URL Filtering
Internal users and applications reaching out to malicious websites is a huge security risk that must be addressed. In addition, enterprises need to limit internet access to comply with corporate internet usage policies. NSX Gateway Firewall in 3.2 introduces the capability to restrict access to internet sites. Access can be limited based on either the category the URL belongs to, or the “reputation” of the URL. The URL to category and reputation mapping is constantly updated by VMware so customer intent is enforced automatically even after many changes in the internet sites themselves.
Article | April 17, 2020
Researchers have published the details of an investigation into CVE-2020-3952, a major vulnerability in VMware's vCenter that was disclosed and patched on April 9. The flaw was given a CVSS score of 10. CVE-2020-3952 exists in VMware's Directory Service (vmdir), which is a part of VMware vCenter Server, a centralized management platform for virtualized hosts and virtual machines. Through vCenter Server, the company says, an administrator can manage hundreds of workloads. The platform uses single sign-on (SSO), which includes vmdir, Security Token Service, an administration server, and the vCenter Lookup Service. Vmdir is also used for certificate management for the workloads vCenter handles.
Article | May 7, 2020
Your ProtonVPN iOS app is now better equipped to fight censorship and offers more flexible connection options with the launch of OpenVPN for iOS. The OpenVPN protocol is one of the best VPN protocols because of its flexibility, security, and because it is more resistant to blocks. You now have the option to switch between the faster IKEv2 protocol and the more stable and censorship-resistant OpenVPN protocol.
Article | December 14, 2021
The modern application world is advancing at an unprecedented rate. However, the new possibilities these transformations make available don’t come without complexities. IT teams often find themselves under pressure to keep up with the speed of innovation. That’s why VMware provides a production-ready container platform for customers that aligns to upstream Kubernetes, VMware Tanzu Kubernetes Grid Integrated (formerly known as VMware Enterprise PKS).
By working with VMware, customers can move at the speed their businesses demand without the headache of trying to run their operations alone. Our offerings help customers stay current with the open source community's innovations while having access to the support they need to move forward confidently.
Many changes have been made to Tanzu Kubernetes Grid Integrated edition over the past year that are designed to help customers keep up with Kubernetes advancements, move faster, and enhance security.
The latest version, Tanzu Kubernetes Grid Integrated 1.13, bumped to Kubernetes version 1.22 and removed beta APIs in favor of stable APIs that have since evolved from the betas.
Over time, some APIs will evolve. Beta APIs typically evolve more often than stable APIs and should therefore be checked before updates occur. The APIs listed below will not be served with v1.22 as they have been replaced by more stable API versions:
Beta versions of the ValidatingWebhookConfiguration and MutatingWebhookConfiguration API (the admissionregistration.k8s.io/v1beta1 API versions)
The beta CustomResourceDefinition API (apiextensions.k8s.io/v1beta1)
The beta APIService API (apiregistration.k8s.io/v1beta1)
The beta TokenReview API (authentication.k8s.io/v1beta1)
Beta API versions of SubjectAccessReview, LocalSubjectAccessReview, SelfSubjectAccessReview (API versions from authorization.k8s.io/v1beta1)
The beta CertificateSigningRequest API (certificates.k8s.io/v1beta1)
The beta Lease API (coordination.k8s.io/v1beta1)
All beta Ingress APIs (the extensions/v1beta1 and networking.k8s.io/v1beta1 API versions)
Tanzu Kubernetes Grid Integrated helps customers eliminate lengthy deployment and management processes with on-demand provisioning, scaling, patching, and updating of Kubernetes clusters.
To stay in alignment with the Kubernetes community, Containerd will be used as the default container runtime, although Docker can still be selected using the command-line interface (CLI) if needed.
Several updates have been made in regards to networking as well including support of Antrea and NSX-T enhancements.
With Tanzu Kubernetes Grid Integrated version 1.10 and later, customers can leverage Antrea on install or upgrade to use Kubernetes network policies. This enables enterprises to get the best of both worlds: access to the latest innovation from Antrea and world-class support from VMware.
NSX-T was integrated with Tanzu Kubernetes Grid Integrated to simplify container networking and increase security. This has been enhanced so customers can now choose the policy API as an option on a fresh installation of Tanzu Kubernetes Grid Integrated. This means that users will have access to new features available only through NSX-T policy API. This feature is currently in beta.
In addition, more NSX-T and NSX Container Plug-in (NCP) configuration is possible through the network profiles. This operator command provides the benefit of being able to set configurations through the CLI, and this is persistent across lifecycle events.
We’ve made storage operations in our customers’ container native environments easier, too. Customers were seeking a simpler and more secure way to manage Container Storage Interface (CSI), and we introduced automatic installation of the vSphere CSI driver as a BOSH process beginning with Tanzu Kubernetes Grid Integrated 1.11.
Also, as VCP will be deprecated, customers are advised to use the CSI driver. VCP-to-CSI migration is a part of Tanzu Kubernetes Grid Integrated 1.12 and is designed to help customers move forward faster.
Implementing new technologies provides users with new capabilities, but it can also lead to new security vulnerabilities if not done correctly. VMware’s goal is to help customers move forward with ease and the confidence of knowing that enhancements don’t compromise core security needs.
This year, Tanzu Kubernetes Grid Integrated continued to see improvements that help meet today’s high security standards. Meeting the Center for Internet Security (CIS) benchmarks standards is vital for Tanzu Kubernetes Grid Integrated.
In recent Tanzu Kubernetes Grid Integrated releases, a few Kubernetes-related settings have been adjusted to ensure compliance with CIS requirements:
Kube-apiserver with --kubelet-certificate-authority settings (v1.12)
Kube-apiserver with --authorization-mode argument includes Node (v1.12)
Kube-apiserver with proper --audit-log-maxage argument (v1.13)
Kube-apiserver with proper --audit-log-maxbackup argument (v1.13)
Kube-apiserver with proper --audit-log-maxsize argument (v1.13)
Tanzu Kubernetes Grid Integrated secures all communication between its control plane components and the Kubernetes clusters it manages, using TLS validated by certificates. The certificate rotations have been simplified in recent releases. Customers can now list and simply update certificates on a cluster-by-cluster basis through the “tkgi rotate-certificates” command. The multistep, manual process was replaced with a single CLI command to rotate NSX-T certificates (available since Tanzu Kubernetes Grid Integrated 1.10) and cluster-by-cluster certificates (available since Tanzu Kubernetes Grid Integrated 1.12).
Hardening of images
Tanzu Kubernetes Grid Integrated keeps OS images, container base images, and software library versions updated to remediate the CVEs reported by customers and in the industry. It also continues to use the latest Ubuntu Xenial Stemcell latest versions for node virtual machines. With recent releases and patch versions, the version of dockerd, containerd, runc, telegraf, nfs-utils had been bumped to the latest stable and secure versions as well.
By using Harbor as a private registry management service, customers could also leverage the built-in vulnerability scan features to discover the application images CVEs.
VMware is dedicated to supporting customers with production readiness by enhancing the user experience. Tanzu Kubernetes Grid Integrated Edition has stayed up to date with the Kubernetes community and provides customers with the support and resources they need to innovate rapidly.