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Security/virtualization concerns: Where to place a firewall connection

Is it possible to implement a virus-deterrent technology before the firewall connection? In particular, would this help add security to virtual servers?

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It is definitely possible to enforce signature-based blocking or inline patching farther upstream from the server. Using layer-7 protection technologies like Web application firewalls or in-line intrusion prevention systems (IPS) will help mitigate or resolve virus or other malware threats before they reach the server.

However, I would not place such a product in front of the firewall connection, given the amount of noise generated by unfiltered Internet traffic. Ideally, these products would be placed as a layer-2 bridge on the link between the firewall and the switch infrastructure hosting the servers.

As this blocking is being handled further upstream -- outside of the virtual environment -- it is effective at protecting multiple virtual servers hosted on the same physical hardware.

This was first published in February 2011

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