Essential Guide

Virtual desktop security guide

How to put your VDI environment under lock and key


With the variety of endpoints in corporate environments today, security is more important than ever. Users are also becoming increasingly independent, making it difficult for IT to manage passwords, application settings and network access.

Virtual desktop infrastructure can make your desktops either more secure or less so. Storing data on VDI servers in the data center is more secure than storing it locally on the user's endpoint, and administrators have greater control over desktop and app distribution. At the same time, allowing users to access virtual desktops remotely puts your network at risk.

To deal with those extra vulnerabilities, you need solid virtual desktop security measures. Learn how to protect the network, implement single sign-on, secure backup files and more in this guide.

1Lock it up-

How VDI can improve desktop security

Implementing VDI can be a godsend for desktop security because back-end servers provide an extra layer between the user's desktop and potential hackers.


Can VDI solve desktop security nightmares?

The influx of smartphones, USB drives and Internet-borne malware in the enterprise has made desktop security a bad dream for many admins. But with VDI, data and applications are on secure servers in the data center. That also allows IT to create and delete virtual desktops instantly. Continue Reading


Five ways VDI improves enterprise security

Every VDI environment has a master image from which all virtual desktops are created. You can configure firewalls and other settings on the master image that will enhance virtual desktop security. Plus, VDI gives IT more control over what apps users can install and access. It's easy to wipe applications during session initiation or block them from being downloaded in the first place. Continue Reading


Protecting VDI users from themselves

Users tend to change application settings or -- even worse -- install unauthorized software on their desktops. Luckily, if you deploy thin clients, those devices can only connect to VDI environments; they won't allow malware or media drives to infect the physical endpoint. If users make any application configuration changes, IT can have the profile directories reset after they log out. Continue Reading


How desktop virtualization can stop cybercriminals

Hackers can get into the most secure networks; not even your client or server network is truly safe. With VDI, however, IT can quickly dissolve the golden image if it's compromised. Plus, zero clients tend to be even more secure than thin clients because they have a smaller attack surface. Continue Reading

2For better or for worse?-

VDI security challenges

Hold your horses: VDI isn't always a golden ticket to desktop security. Virtualization can also present a new layer of vulnerability.


How VDI makes desktop security worse

Desktop virtualization takes users -- who are often unpredictable -- out of the field and into your data center. So, it's best not to allow them to install their own applications or have admin rights. Just because it's "easy" to refresh a master image doesn't mean you want to do that all the time. Continue Reading


Do you still need antivirus software?

You might think the secure nature of virtual desktops means you don't need antivirus software, but that’s false. You can reset an infected gold image, but that won't prevent you from getting the virus in the first place. Virtual desktops -- especially when accessed from mobile devices -- offer more ways than ever for users to transfer data and contract viruses. Luckily, antivirus software vendors such as McAfee and Symantec have tweaked their products for use in virtual desktop environments. Continue Reading


Desktop security concerns: Data at rest vs. live data

VDI centralizes data, but users can still get data onto their local devices. That means hackers can access "data at rest" even on a powered-off endpoint. Plus, because virtual desktops are connected to the data center, an attack on one desktop could affect the whole lot. One way to prevent that from happening is through isolation, such as sandboxing. Continue Reading

3Need-to-know info-

Virtual desktop security measures

Now that you know how VDI can affect desktop security, check out these methods for securing virtual desktops.


Treat your office network as untrusted

It's a good idea to put a firewall between your office network and the data center network. Encryption in your Internet gateway also ensures that the corporate network is at lower risk. Finally, make policies for employee-owned mobile devices; it's smart to have a company-approved VDI client installed. Continue Reading


Using SSO to enhance desktop security

Single sign-on (SSO) makes things easier for end users because it allows them to access their virtual desktop from different locations without having to re-enter passwords for every application. You can also integrate SSO with two- or three-factor authentication for even more security. Continue Reading


How to get rid of viruses on virtual desktops

If one virtual desktop is infected, simply shut down the machine, then reboot the virtual desktop from the gold image and restart the endpoint in an isolated network. To prevent viruses in the first place, build one golden image with the Windows firewall disabled, then build another one with the firewall enabled that allows only outbound connections. You can use the firewall-enabled image to reconnect users to their virtual desktops instantly. Continue Reading


Nine ways to ensure VMware View security

To ensure VMware View security, install antivirus software in the base image or use VMware vShield Endpoint to offload antivirus processes to a virtual appliance. It's also a good idea to place VMware View security servers inside a DMZ. For greater virtual desktop security in spread out environments, View also supports smart-card authentication. Continue Reading


Creating security certificates in VMware View

It's important to understand security certificates, which validate browser, server and services connections to the virtual desktop. In VMware View, the process for creating certificate request files, submitting them to an authority and configuring the security servers is somewhat complicated. Continue Reading