The Cybersecurity Risk of VMware

Author: Craig Pollack Date: Feb 09, 2023 Topics: General Business Owner Blogs, Cybersecurity

In today's fast-paced digital world, the importance of maintaining up-to-date systems cannot be overstated. As more and more businesses rely on virtualization to run their infrastructure (whether on-prem or in the cloud), it's essential to keep virtual machines (VMs) current to protect against cyber attacks. VMware, a leader in virtualization software, is no exception.

Cyberattacks have become increasingly sophisticated over the years and hackers are constantly looking for new and different vulnerabilities in systems to exploit. And virtualization platforms like VMware have become a prime target. 

The importance of keeping VMware up-to-date

VMware is a popular virtualization platform used by businesses to create and run virtual machines. It allows businesses to create multiple virtual machines on a single physical server, providing better efficiency and cost savings. However, as with any software, VMware is not immune to security vulnerabilities.

One of the primary reasons to keep VMware current is to protect against security vulnerabilities. When security vulnerabilities are discovered, the vendor releases security updates to patch them. If you don't update your VMware environment, your virtual machines may be vulnerable to cyberattacks that exploit those vulnerabilities.

In addition to security vulnerabilities, keeping VMware current also ensures that you have access to new features and functionality. Newer versions of VMware often provide better performance, improved compatibility with hardware and software, and enhanced management capabilities. These improvements can help organizations operate more efficiently while also reducing potential downtime.

Examples of cyberattacks on VMware

The need to keep VMware current is highlighted by the various cyberattacks that have targeted it over the years. Here's some of the more notable attacks:

1. CVE-2020-4006

CVE-2020-4006 is a vulnerability that was discovered in VMware's vRealize Operations Manager. This vulnerability could allow an attacker to execute arbitrary code on the target system. The vulnerability was rated as critical, with a CVSS score of 9.1 out of 10.

VMware released a security update to patch the vulnerability, but many businesses failed to update their environments in a timely manner. As a result, cybercriminals were able to exploit the vulnerability to launch attacks on unpatched systems.

2. SolarWinds Attack

The SolarWinds attack was one of the most significant cyberattacks in recent years. The attack involved a supply chain attack on SolarWinds, a vendor that provides network and system management software. The attackers were able to compromise SolarWinds' software build system and insert malicious code into the software.

One of the targets of the attack was VMware. The attackers were able to access and exfiltrate VMware source code, which could be used to develop new attacks on VMware's software. While the attack did not result in a direct breach of VMware's customers, it highlights the need to keep virtualization platforms like VMware up-to-date.

3. SANS Institute breach

The SANS Institute is a training organization that provides cybersecurity training to businesses and individuals. In 2019, the SANS Institute suffered a data breach that resulted in the theft of 28,000 records. The attackers were able to access the records by exploiting a vulnerability in an outdated version of VMware vCenter.

The vulnerability had been patched by VMware, but the SANS Institute had failed to apply the patch to their environment. As a result, the attackers were able to exploit the vulnerability and gain access to the organization's systems.

4. ESXiArgs

The recent ESXiArgs campaign is yet another example of the need to keep VMware current. The campaign involved the exploitation of a zero-day vulnerability in VMware's ESXi hypervisor, which allowed attackers to gain access to virtual machines and other critical infrastructure. This campaign highlights the importance of promptly patching known vulnerabilities in VMware's products to prevent successful attacks.

CyberCube, a cyber risk analytics company, was heavily involved in the investigation of the ESXiArgs campaign. Using its unique cyber risk modeling capabilities, CyberCube was able to analyze the potential impact of the campaign on its clients and provide them with actionable intelligence to help mitigate the risk.

CyberCube's involvement in the ESXiArgs campaign underscores the critical role that cyber risk analytics can play in helping businesses manage their cyber risk. By analyzing data and providing actionable insights, cyber risk analytics can help businesses make informed decisions about how to protect their assets and defend against cyber attacks.

The importance of proactive maintenance

Keeping VMware up-to-date requires proactive maintenance. Proactive maintenance involves monitoring your VMware environment for security vulnerabilities, applying security updates in a timely manner, and regularly assessing your environment for risks.

Regularly scanning your environment for security vulnerabilities can help you identify potential threats and address them before they can be exploited by attackers. Patch management is also essential to keep your environment up-to-date with the latest security updates and bug fixes.

In addition to proactive maintenance, it is essential to have a plan in place to respond to security incidents. This plan should include steps to contain and remediate the incident, as well as procedures for notifying customers and stakeholders.

Best practices for keeping VMware current

To keep your VMware environment up-to-date and secure, there are several best practices you should follow:

  1. Regularly monitor your environment for security vulnerabilities and apply security updates as soon as they are available.
  2. Use security tools and solutions, such as firewalls and intrusion detection systems, to protect your environment.
  3. Develop and implement security policies and procedures for your organization.
  4. Conduct regular security assessments to identify potential risks and vulnerabilities.
  5. Educate your employees on security best practices and provide training on how to recognize and respond to security incidents.


Keeping your VMware environment up-to-date is an essential component of protecting against cyberattacks. With the ever-increasing sophistication of cyberattacks, it's no longer enough to simply rely on traditional security measures. Organizations need to take a proactive approach to security, including regularly monitoring their environment for vulnerabilities, applying security updates, and having a plan in place to respond to security incidents. This is almost impossible for most organizations without outside assistance from a well-oiled MSP.

By following best practices for keeping VMware current, businesses can ensure the security and integrity of their virtualization environments. In today's rapidly evolving threat landscape, it's more important than ever to stay vigilant and take proactive steps to protect against cyberattacks and securing VMware is too often overlooked.

What do you think? Has this info been helpful? Are there ways that we can help you secure your virtual environment?  Please let us know in the Comments box below or shoot me an email if you’d like to discuss this in more detail.

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Craig Pollack

Craig Pollack

Craig is the Founder & CEO of FPA Technology Services, Inc. Craig provides the strategy and direction for FPA, ensuring its clients, business owners, and key decision makers leverage technology as efficiently and effectively as possible. With over 30 years of experience building the preeminent IT Service Provider in the Southern California area, Craig is one of the area’s leading authorities on how small to mid-sized businesses can best leverage and secure their technology to achieve their business objectives.