Add VMware Player to Your Security Toolkit

VMware is a tool that lets you run various OSs as virtual machines (VMs) on a single computer. The Windows IT Pro Web site has many articles about VMware, which you can find listed at

I've been testing VMware Workstation lately, and last week I woke up to a pleasant surprise. While doing a little early morning blog surfing, I came across a blog I hadn't read before called Wubble. As it turns out, the blog author, Philip Langdale, works at VMware.

In a blog entry, "VMs for Everyone!" (at the first URL below), I learned that during the VMworld 2005 conference in Las Vegas (Oct. 18-20), VMware released a new standalone tool, VMware Player (at the second URL below). If you've used VMware Workstation, the VMware servers, or VMware ACE (Assured Computing Environment), then you know how incredibly useful VMware is. The new Player (which will also ship with the upcoming VMware Workstation 5.5) is equally useful for two particular reasons. First, it lets you run existing VMs created by other VMware tools and supports VMs created with Microsoft Virtual Server as well as Symantec LiveState Recovery snapshots. Second, it's free.

As with many free tools, VMware Player has some limitations. For example, you can't create new VMs and you can't add new hardware to a VM. You can learn about other limitations in VMware's comparison chart.

Even with some limitations, VMware Player is a great offering. As you might suspect, you can use it to run Windows, Linux, Novell NetWare, Sun Microsystems Solaris, and FreeBSD as guest OSs. Another nice thing is that if you don't have a VM to run in VMware Player or don't want to create one, you can download one from VMware's Web site. Available are VMs for Novell Linux Desktop, Novell SUSE Linux Enterprise Server, and Red Hat Enterprise Linux, plus several other VMs provided by various application vendors. VMware also provides a VM based on Ubuntu Linux that's configured as a Browser Appliance and designed to let you surf the Internet while protecting your underlying OS from malware.

If you've run a honeypot or a honeymonkey or had to test various software and tools, you probably know (or can imagine) how using a VM can be of great benefit. For example, you can build your honeypot on any supported OS and run it inside a VM. Then if the honeypot is compromised, it's not a problem--just shut down the VM and restart it again, and any changes made by an intruder are gone. The same goes for running a honeymonkey or testing spyware and other forms of malware. Plus, you can run Linux-based security tools on a Windows desktop by loading them into a Linux-based VM. With VMware Player, you can extend your use to other systems quickly and easily--and that's what makes VMware Player a great addition for your security toolkit. Check it out.

TAGS: Security
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