Don’t let VDI’s security benefits blind you to its vulnerabilities
Chances are you did not expect that your deployment of Virtual Desktop Infrastructure (VDI) would have grave security implications because of VDI’s enhanced centralization and isolation. But as many organizations are discovering, it would be a mistake to let the security benefits of VDI diminish your vigilance. Better protections against phishing, viruses, and malware have hackers looking for new targets, including VDI.
Your VDI is no doubt serving its main purposes: reducing strain on your IT resources and improving your end users’ experience. IT can add and subtract desktops faster and spend less time managing them. They can troubleshoot them quickly and remotely. With employees’ resources centralized in the data center or on the cloud, updates and patches are simpler.
In the meantime, your users get the exact desktop they need with high-bandwidth networking and swift response time, enabling them to work more efficiently and productively.
To be sure, it is safer to use VDI to store critical data at the data center or on the cloud, where your security measures are bound to be top-quality, rather than on each individual user’s endpoint.
But there are still areas of vulnerability for your VDI environment.
External Site – In the normal course of their work, your end users most likely leave your VDI environment to access websites that lie outside of it, e.g., corporate partner resources such as employee benefits websites, search engines, competitor’s websites, corporate tools like Workday or BambooHR, even your Human Resources intranet set, as well as permitted social media and e-commerce shopping sites.
If the communication path to these resources is not fully secured, as it often is not, the end user can be compromised and, upon returning to your VDI environment, infect your network and other users.
BYOD Remotely – At many organizations, Bring Your Own Device (BYOD) policies have not kept pace with the growing cybersecurity threats. BYOD has been growing rapidly in response to employee preference, employer permission, and the increased productivity BYOD often yields, and the pandemic’s explosive impact on work-from-home policies has furthered the practice. In addition, employers are increasingly enabling BYOD for contractors, partners, customers, and suppliers. The result of this proliferation of BYOD is a vastly expanded attack surface and fresh opportunities for hackers to take advantage of such conditions to target unwary users of BYOD devices. Cybersecurity experts concur: With the high rate of hacking attempts and the fact that a simple error on the part of an end user can permit penetration, breaches cannot be entirely prevented, as Unisys CEO Peter Altabef explained. So it is important to keep in mind that BYOD policies can adversely affect the security of your VDI environment.