Avoiding KVM configuration errors

Active Separation

A Study as a Source

The security of KVM-based virtualization can certainly be considered highly complex, which is why I have only singled out a few, albeit very central, issues. The material comes from a 2016 security analysis performed by OpenSource Security Ralf Spenneberg [8] on behalf of The German Federal Office for Information Security [9]. The company not only investigated the security of KVM itself, but also of its ecosystem, consisting of Qemu and libvirt, as well as network-based data storage with Ceph and GlusterFS. The study is due to be published soon.


  1. KVM: https://www.linux-kvm.org
  2. Qemu: http://www.qemu-project.org
  3. "Passing Host PCI Devices Through to the KVM Guest" by Oliver Rath, Hans-Peter Merkel, and Markus Feilner. Linux Pro Magazine , issue 114, May 2010, pg. 46
  4. libvirt: http://libvirt.org
  5. "KSM (Kernel Samepage Merging)" by Christoph Mitasch, https://www.thomas-krenn.com/en/wiki/KSM_(Kernel_Samepage_Merging)
  6. "Wait a minute! A fast, cross-VM attack on AES" by Gorka Irazoqui, Mehmet Sinan Inci, Thomas Eisenbarth, and Berk Sunar, https://eprint.iacr.org/2014/435.pdf
  7. MacVTap: http://virt.kernelnewbies.org/MacVTap
  8. OpenSource Security Ralf Spenneberg: https://opensource-security.de (in German)
  9. The German Federal Office for Information Security: https://www.bsi.bund.de/EN/TheBSI/thebsi_node.html @IE

The Author

Hendrik Schwartke works as an IT security analyst with OpenSource Security Ralf Spenneberg (Steinfurt, Germany) investigating Linux server systems and embedded systems for security vulnerabilities. Schwartke was a major contributor to the study "Sicherheitsanalyse von KVM (KVMSec)" [Security Analysis of KVM (KVMSec)] on behalf of The German Federal Office for Information Security.

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