Protecting an iSCSI SAN
Your iSCSI configuration is only as secure as your IP network. By enforcing good security standards when you set up your network, you help safeguard your iSCSI storage.
Protecting Transmitted Data
A primary security risk in iSCSI SANs is that an attacker might sniff transmitted storage data. Neither the iSCSI adapter nor the ESXi host iSCSI initiator encrypts the data that it transmits to and from the targets, making the data vulnerable to sniffing attacks. You must therefore take additional measures to prevent attackers from easily seeing iSCSI data.
Allowing your virtual machines to share virtual switches and VLANs with your iSCSI configuration potentially exposes iSCSI traffic to misuse by a virtual machine attacker. To help ensure that intruders cannot listen to iSCSI transmissions, make sure that none of your virtual machines can see the iSCSI storage network.
Protect your system by giving the iSCSI SAN a dedicated virtual switch.
You can also configure your iSCSI SAN on its own VLAN to improve performance and security. Placing your iSCSI configuration on a separate VLAN ensures that no devices other than the iSCSI adapter can see transmissions within the iSCSI SAN. With a dedicated VLAN, network congestion from other sources cannot interfere with iSCSI traffic.
Securing iSCSI Ports
When you run iSCSI devices, the ESXi host does not open ports that listen for network connections. This measure reduces the chances that an intruder can break into the ESXi host through spare ports and gain control over the host. Therefore, running iSCSI does not present an additional security risks at the ESXi host end of the connection.
An iSCSI target device must have one or more open TCP ports to listen for iSCSI connections. If security vulnerabilities exist in the iSCSI device software, your data can be at risk through no fault of the ESXi system. To lower this risk, install all security patches that your storage equipment manufacturer provides and limit the devices connected to the iSCSI network.
Setting iSCSI CHAP
iSCSI storage systems authenticate an initiator using a name and key pair. ESXi systems support Challenge Handshake Authentication Protocol (CHAP), which VMware recommends for your SAN implementation. The ESXi host and the iSCSI storage system must have CHAP enabled and must have common credentials. During iSCSI login, the iSCSI storage system exchanges its credentials with the ESXi system and checks them.
You can set up iSCSI authentication by using the vSphere Client, as discussed in the vSphere Storage documentation or by using the esxcli command, discussed in Enabling iSCSI Authentication. To use CHAP authentication, you must enable CHAP on both the initiator side and the storage system side. After authentication is enabled, it applies for targets to which no connection has been established, but does not apply to targets to which a connection is established. After the discovery address is set, the new volumes to which you add a connection are exposed and can be used.
For software iSCSI and dependent hardware iSCSI, ESXi hosts support per-discovery and per-target CHAP credentials. For independent hardware iSCSI, ESXi hosts support only one set of CHAP credentials per initiator. You cannot assign different CHAP credentials for different targets.
When you configure independent hardware iSCSI initiators, ensure that the CHAP configuration matches your iSCSI storage. If CHAP is enabled on the storage array, it must be enabled on the initiator. If CHAP is enabled, you must set up the CHAP authentication credentials on the ESXi host to match the credentials on the iSCSI storage.
Supported CHAP Levels
To set CHAP levels with esxcli iscsi adapter setauth or vicfg-iscsi, specify one of the values in Supported Levels for CHAP for <level>. Only two levels are supported for independent hardware iSCSI.
Mutual CHAP is supported for software iSCSI and for dependent hardware iSCSI, but not for independent hardware iSCSI.
Important Ensure that CHAP is set to chapRequired before you set mutual CHAP, and use compatible levels for CHAP and mutual CHAP. Use different passwords for CHAP and mutual CHAP to avoid security risks.
Returning Authentication to Default Inheritance
The values of iSCSI authentication settings associated with a dynamic discovery address or a static discovery target are inherited from the corresponding settings of the parent. For the dynamic discovery address, the parent is the adapter. For the static target, the parent is the adapter or discovery address.
If you use the vSphere Client to modify authentication settings, you must deselect the Inherit from Parent check box before you can make a change to the discovery address or discovery target.
If you use vicfg-iscsi, the value you set overrides the inherited value.
If you use esxcli iscsi commands, the value you set overrides the inherited value. You can set CHAP at these levels:
Inheritance is relevant only if you want to return a dynamic discovery address or a static discovery target to its inherited value. In that case, use one of the following commands:
Dynamic discovery: esxcli iscsi adapter discovery sendtarget auth chap set --inherit
Static discovery: esxcli iscsi adapter target portal auth chap set --inherit.