Virtual PC Security – Community members Sven writes:

I'm running Vista as a host machine and Virtual PC 07 which has XP Pro installed on it. The virtual hard drive is saved on an 80GB partition separate from any Vista files. If my XP caught a virus or some nasty spyware on it could it transfer itself onto my Vista partitions or will it be regulated to just the virtual PC?

This depends on how your Virtual Machine is set up and what infection you get. If your VM is networked in any way to your real machine it is possible that the infection could spread via that network connection.

Also, it's possible that viruses and spyware are being authored to exploit flaws in virtual machine software. While it appears to be theoretical right now, this is something you should keep in mind.

The best thing you can do to safeguard yourself from an infection on your real machine is to not network that virtual machine at all: don't share folders, don't let it see your real machine on the network, and in fact, remove its Internet connectivity.

As always, make sure you are running antivirus on both your real and virtual machines.

Community member Icy chimes in:

As per your video a couple days ago on using Virtual PC on a Vista machine to prevent against viruses, a friend of mine did get a virus that hacked through the virtual machine (he was using vmware player) and infected his hard drive. Besides transmitting a virus from a virtual machine over the network, is it possible that if a virus wrote a bunch of bits of data to RAM and overflowed the allocated RAM for the virtual machine, that extra bits would be written to RAM allocated to the real machine. Then, those bits could potentially be executed, transmitting the virus to the physical machine. Is this possible? Is there another way a virus could exploit a vulnerability in VMWare or any virtual machine while running on a virtual machine?

Do you have any advice for Sven?

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