Kenna Security and VMware Collaborate to Empower IT to Mitigate Vulnerability Risk

Aug 27, 2019
Jason Rolleston
Chief Product Officer

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Keeping the company secure has historically been the security organization’s job, but the reality of the threat landscape now and in the future requires other parts of the company to be involved. As our CEO here at Kenna likes to say, “Cybersecurity is a team sport.” 

To break that down a little, while we all know that security is vitally important to the security teams who live and breathe minimizing cyber risk to their organization day in and day out, success is highly dependant on the IT teams tasked with patching vulnerable systems. It’s important that both of those teams work together to make the most of their combined resources, but historically the relationship between the two has been a contentious one. 

It is in this interface, the connection between IT and Security as it relates to patching vulnerable systems, that Kenna has stepped into the breach with a data-driven approach and has helped customers transform their vulnerability management programs. VMware has also recognized the need to bridge the domains and bring security capabilities into the hands of IT.

The Kenna and VMware Collaboration

Recognizing this, I’m excited to provide a bit more context about our collaboration with VMware, announced earlier today at VMworld 2019 US. Through this collaboration, Kenna’s vulnerability risk intelligence will be integrated with VMware AppDefense, a part of the VMware vSphere Platinum offering, to empower virtual administrators (vAdmins) with vulnerability risk scoring, context, and prioritized patch recommendations. vAdmins will be able to determine the highest risk vulnerabilities, get patch guidance, and take action.

Solving Challenges for IT and Security

Clearly we are excited to be working with an industry leader like VMware, but this collaboration is important for organizations and for us here at Kenna Security for a couple of reasons.

First, it’s well-recognized that there is a cybersecurity skills shortage, and empowering vAdmins with the data and insights required to prioritize security patches themselves frees up the security resources to focus on other work. This is a serious win for any organization.

Second, and more impactful, by embracing a pragmatic data-driven approach, VMware customers can transform a contentious, time-intensive process that continuously generates animosity between the IT and Security teams. Instead of providing enormous impossible to implement patch lists, arguing which will be deployed, and being frustrated with the results, Security teams can be largely removed from day-to-day operations. Instead of fighting with Security to patch the subset of the wishlist that IT deem to be acceptable in terms of IT risk, vAdmins action a much smaller set of patches driven by risk-based recommendations. The resulting process is much more efficient and effective for both teams and helps to bridge the gap between IT and Security by removing this long-standing irritant.

More on the Technology

For those of our audience not as familiar with VMware AppDefense, let me tell you a little bit about VMware and this product. VMware has been investing significantly in the area of security including the recently announced intent to acquire Carbon Black. As Tom Corn, VMware’s SVP and GM of security products, has said, “Security has long been at the core of VMware’s products and solutions and we are constantly looking for innovative new models that can transform security for the modern application infrastructure.” 

VMware AppDefense is a data center security product that protects applications running in virtualized environments, and a central part of their focus on security. While there are many powerful capabilities in AppDefense (you can read about them here), the core driving principle is the unique visibility and control afforded from being inside the hypervisor, virtual networking, and within the running VM. You could argue that Intel’s acquisition of McAfee a number of years ago followed a similar thread in terms of the potential for embedding security in the chip. However, where Intel ran into the hard reality of hardware and cyber security software innovation cycles not matching up, VMware’s “chip” is the hypervisor, a software construct, meaning innovation can proceed hand in hand.

AppDefense takes this visibility and applies it to the extremely challenging problem of modern application security. By observing normal expected behavior, AppDefense is able to identify deviations and apply controls to protect the application in real time. This is a very powerful capability that VMware customers with application security programs should absolutely be investigating.

Through our new collaboration, VMware is now extending AppDefense to include vulnerability context and prioritization from Kenna. The Kenna Security Platform seamlessly correlates vulnerability data against billions of pieces of threat and exploit information and provides that intelligence into the AppDefense App Verification Cloud for viewing directly within VMware vCenter.

By integrating Kenna’s vulnerability prioritization and patch recommendations into the VMware AppDefense App Verification Cloud, customers will get the benefit of aligning vulnerability data with VMware’s threat and reputation intelligence, and overlaying that information on top of agentless real-time discovery of virtual machine behavior. Read our press release for more. 

We are absolutely thrilled to be working with VMware, an industry leader and a company that shares our perspective on the transformative power of enabling IT admins to lead the efforts to reduce vulnerability risk. This collaboration is a game changer for VMware AppDefense customers and vAdmins who will make their cybersecurity program more efficient and effective. 

Better results with less effort for both IT and Security – hard to beat that!

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