Title: Critical analysis of layer 2 network security in virtualised environments

Authors: Ronny L. Bull; Jeanna N. Matthews

Addresses: Wallace H. Coulter School of Engineering, Clarkson University, Potsdam, NY 13676, USA ' Wallace H. Coulter School of Engineering, Clarkson University, Potsdam, NY 13676, USA

Abstract: In this article, we explore whether layer 2 network attacks that work on physical switches apply to their virtualised counterparts by performing a systematic study across four major hypervisor environments - Open vSwitch, Citrix XenServer, Microsoft Hyper-V Server and VMware vSphere - in seven different virtual networking configurations. First, we use a malicious virtual machine to run a MAC flooding attack and evaluate the impact on co-resident virtual machines. We find that network performance is degraded on all platforms and that it is possible to eavesdrop on other client traffic passing over the same virtual network for Open vSwitch and Citrix XenServer. Second, we use a malicious virtual machine to run a rogue DHCP server and then run multiple DHCP attack scenarios. On all four platforms, co-resident virtual machines can be manipulated by providing them with incorrect or malicious network information.

Keywords: virtualisation; virtual networking; network security; cloud security; virtual switches; layer 2 attacks; DHCP attacks; DNS; MAC flooding attacks; cloud computing; virtual machines.

DOI: 10.1504/IJCNDS.2016.080113

International Journal of Communication Networks and Distributed Systems, 2016 Vol.17 No.3, pp.315 - 333

Received: 30 Jun 2015
Accepted: 28 Jun 2016

Published online: 28 Oct 2016 *

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