VENOM refers to a security vulnerability that results from a buffer overflow in a kernel-level driver included in many default virtualized environments. The VENOM vulnerability has the potential to provide attackers with access to the host operating system and, as a result, other guest operating systems on the same host.
VENOM is of particular concern to enterprises, as it can compromise corporate data centers and cloud services, which tend to rely heavily on virtualized systems throughout their operations.
VENOM Specifics and Efforts to Patch Vulnerability
Security firm CrowdStrike discovered and named the VENOM vulnerability in early 2015. VENOM, an acronym for Virtualized Environment Neglected Operations Manipulation, arises from QEMU’s virtual Floppy Disk Controller (FDC), which carries a vulnerability that could enable an attacker to run code by pairing one of two flawed commands related to the controller with a buffer overflow.
The VENOM vulnerability affects KVM, Xen and native QEMU virtual machines. Virtual machines running on Microsoft Hyper-V or VMware hypervisors are not affected by VENOM. The VENOM vulnerability works with the default configuration of the affected virtualization platforms, so even when the FDC drive has not been added to the platform, systems are still vulnerable.
Fortunately, there is no evidence that VENOM has been exploited in the wild at this time, and many software firms have released updates recently for their products that patch the VENOM vulnerability, including Red Hat, Rackspace, SUSE and Citrix.