Xen and the art of hypervisor introspection: Bitdefender donates meditative tech to open-source virty outfit

And its lightweight virtualized RAM and CPU project, Napoca, too

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Security vendor Bitdefender has open-sourced its hypervisor introspection technology, which the Xen Project will adopt as a sub-project.

Hypervisor introspection (HVI) makes it possible to inspect the memory of a guest VM, a desirable thing to do if you are hunting for malware infections in the guest.

Xen and Bitdefender have collaborated around this sort of thing since at least 2015 when the open-source hypervisor added a feature, libbdvmi, that Bitdefender helped to develop. Citrix and Bitdefender later commercialised the technology in Citrix's version of Xen.

Now Bitdefender and Xen have decided the best way to advance the tech is as an open-source project. The security vendor has also donated its Napoca "thin hypervisor" to the Xen Project. Napoca virtualizes CPU and memory, not hardware, and can therefore allow hypervisor introspection to happen on machines that don't run a full hypervisor.

"We are excited to see the range of uses the community will come up with for the technology, and fully expect to see HVI and Napoca technology used in areas beyond the scope of Bitdefender's security-focused purposes," said Bitdefender director of strategic alliances Shaun Donaldson.

Citrix's chief security strategist, Kurt Roemer, also welcomed the decision.

"Now that the technology is open source, the use cases to which HVI can be applied will result in direct value realised by both security teams and their businesses – especially for emergent threats," Roemer said.

The Xen Project already operates seven teams that work on what the operation calls "sub-projects". As that term has been used to describe HVI, it appears the Project will now have an additional team.

The project has put more effort into embedded applications in recent years and the computers likely to run Xen in such situations could often benefit from enhanced security, or the lighter approach to virtualization offered by Napoca. ®


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