With desktop virtualization, security benefits are built in

With desktop virtualization, security benefits are built in

Virtual desktop infrastructure, or VDI, has existed for years but has reached a point where the technology is more feasible and affordable than previous iterations. VDI allows users to access their desktop from any Internet-connected device, including PCs, Macs, tablets and smartphones. The benefit is your view always will be the same, regardless of the device, making VDI particularly attractive to businesses with mobile workforces. There also are some security-related advantages to this environment, which include:

Data locality: With a mobile workforce, a lot of data physically resides outside the organization. With VDI, data that was once stored on laptops and mobile devices can now be saved in a cloud-based data center or server, making it easier to secure versus managing numerous end-user devices that have limited physical controls.

Controlling bring your own device, or BYOD: With the pressure to support BYOD — the policy of permitting employees to work using personally owned mobile devices — organizations can leverage VDI. VDI allows employees to access the applications from the cloud without physically bringing their own devices into the organization's network, mitigating many security risks.

Software management: When centralizing desktop infrastructure, a business can opt to reduce the software combinations available to its workforce, simplifying its deployment model. Standardizing on fewer variations minimizes the complexity, manpower and time required to set up and manage the desktops.

Malware containment: Deploying VDI with a nonpersistent model (also known as "many-to-one" or "shared") improves your ability to control malware. If your device becomes infected, simply log off and your desktop should revert to a clean state because local installations, including malware infections, are discarded when the desktop session is closed. This doesn't remove the method of infection or likelihood of an infection spreading within the network, but it does eliminate the malware removal proc¬ess from the desktop.

Adoption of VDI is expected to grow significantly in the U.S. over the next five years. From a security perspective, VDI offers definite advantages and is worth looking into.

Vincent Hoang is an enterprise architect at Hawaiian Telcom, a Certified Information Systems Security Professional (CISSP), GSNA Systems and Network Auditor (GSNA) and Cisco Certified Network Professional (CCNP). Reach him at vincent.hoang@hawaiiantel.com.

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