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The situation:

-A corporate environment, with a corporate managed XP desktop (locked down, patched regularly, restricted user rights, no manual install of SW, AV, etc.)

The requirement:

-Using VMWare Workstation, run a sandboxed image (also XP) for specific testing purposes (with admin rights in the guest VM). No network connectivity is required. It can't be a separate standalone physical workstation disconnected from the network.

(FWIW, this is a legitimate, sanctioned requirement - not someone trying to get around corporate restrictions.)

The challenge:

-Do this in as safe/secure a manner as possible.

The proposed solution:

-Create an image with host-only networking.

-Perhaps remove the virtual ethernet adapter? (not sure if it's required for basic VMWare functionality?)

The question (finally):

-What potential risks remain (and how could I best mitigate them)?

One challenge is that the guest VM will not be a managed workstation itself, so patching, AV, etc. can't be guaranteed (and, ironically, would in fact be somewhat difficult given the proposed solution!)

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This seems fairly borderline on security. Perhaps consider migrating it to ? – Iszi Mar 8 '11 at 21:29
up vote 1 down vote accepted

Basically the same risks as using a separate standalone physical workstation disconnected from the network. I.e. the virtual machine will not pose a thread to the host computer or the corporate network directly, but the virtual machine can get infected with all the usual kinds of nasties and if programs or documents are exchanged with corporate computers (e.g. by exposing a host file-system to the guest VM, or through USB) these nasties may spread.

The usual risk mitigation strategies apply: Virus checking, only install trusted software, ...

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