How Virtual Desktops Strengthen Your Cyber Security Posture

By using virtual desktops, your organisation can achieve agility while effectively managing risk, securing information, supporting global compliance and strengthening its cyber security posture.

As organisations we have all had to evolve our operating approaches in 2020 and 2021. With the increased adoption of mobility, flexible working, and bring-your-own-device (BYOD) initiatives, the IT risk profile has changed. New ways of working and collaborating require new approaches to managing risk. IT leaders face a balancing act: giving people the flexibility they need for optimal business productivity while ensuring the security and compliance required to protect the organisation.

To operate at peak performance and competitiveness, organisations need their people to access enterprise resources in more places and in more ways than ever before—but the resulting proliferation of work locations, types of workers and access methods has pushed traditional security strategies to breaking point.

Virtual desktops provide an additional security layer, giving organisations full freedom to embrace business initiatives including mobility, flexible working, BYOD and the ability to deploy personnel and resources wherever and whenever they’re needed. At the same time, desktop virtualisation, complemented by secure file sharing and enterprise mobility management, helps fortify information security and compliance across apps, data and devices in support of business and IT priorities.

In this blog we will take you through the top 10 benefits of using virtual desktops to strengthen your organisation’s cyber security posture.

1. Support workplace flexibility and mobility

Mobility is vital for today’s professional workforce. No longer bound to their desks, an increasing number of people routinely work at partner or customer sites, at home, on the road and in other locations outside the office.

Six Degrees’ Virtual Desktop services help organisations maintain information security while providing flexible access to IT resources from more locations. Centralised application and data management and granular access control policies allow only authorised users to connect to enterprise resources.

2. Say “yes” to consumerisation

Consumer devices purchased by the organisation and owned by individual employees, coupled with readily available highspeed connections across the globe, have greatly increased the ability of people to do their work in the most convenient, productive manner possible.

Virtual desktops free IT from the daunting prospect of managing security across a very broad range of user devices. It helps prevent data from residing on endpoints by centrally controlling information in the data centre.

3. Prevent data loss, ensure privacy and protect intellectual property

For optimal productivity and speed to market, organisations need to provide collaborative access to sensitive data and intellectual property across the value chain and the supply chain. At the same time, IT must not only prevent data loss and protect intellectual property but also ensure data privacy and client confidentiality, honour contractual commitments and maintain compliance.

By centralising resources in the data centre, virtual desktops let IT manage and secure Windows apps and associated data more simply and effectively in a single location rather than in thousands of different locations across the organisation and beyond.

4. Maintain global compliance

Compliance with national and international laws, industry regulations and organisational policies is both a rising burden and a moving target. With little ability to control the distribution of sensitive data and a lack of session-specific location data, IT has struggled with trans-border compliance issues.

Centralised, granular policy control enabled by app and desktop virtualisation helps IT stop handling compliance and data privacy in a reactive manner and instead allows development of the right information security strategy for the organisation’s industry and business needs and risk profile. A single set of policies can govern whether users can add applications, copy data, access peripherals and perform other actions, depending on their location and other factors.

5. Empower contractors

Businesses are making greater use of contractors, temporary workers, consultants, outsourced partners, offshore resources and other contingent workers. While contracting can increase flexibility and efficiency, it also presents a challenge for IT: quickly and easily providing the resources these workers need, and de-provisioning them just as effectively once the engagement is over. The devices used by contractors can be problematic as well. Allowing them to use their own equipment can reduce costs—but there is no guarantee that these devices can run all the apps required for the engagement.

App and desktop virtualisation provides a solution to both of these problems. Windows apps and desktops needed by contractors— even those located on the other side of the world—can be provisioned and de-provisioned instantly from a single, central point of administration. Virtualised apps and desktops can be delivered to any type of device, whether owned by the contractor, a business partner or the enterprise, or even leased for a project. Following the engagement, access to resources can be turned off instantly, with no apps or data left behind on the device.

6. Increase the value of security investments

Trying to manage security for hundreds or thousands of individual endpoint devices is extremely challenging and time-intensive, leading to inevitable delays and oversights in implementing the latest protections. In fact, studies have shown that an overwhelming proportion of successful attacks took advantage of previously known vulnerabilities for which a patch or secure configuration standard was already available.

By centralising maintenance, app and desktop virtualisation simplifies and accelerates endpoint security. Patches, antivirus updates and hotfixes can be quickly installed on a single master image before being deployed throughout the organisation. IT can focus more effectively on what matters most: protecting data in the data centre and responding quickly to new security requirements.

7. Safeguard information and operations during a disaster or other business disruption

A business disruption, whether planned or unplanned, natural or man-made, can be a time of great vulnerability for an organisation as ordinary practices change, people access apps and data in new ways, and perimeter or endpoint security measures risk compromise.

When a disaster occurs, organisations need to ensure not only that data and apps remain secure, but also that the business can operate as normally as possible to avoid reputation damage, financial losses, neglected customer and partner relationships, lost productivity and other consequences.

Virtual desktops provide an approach to business continuity encompassing both the data centre and the people who rely on it. Virtualisation of resources supports a strategy that automatically switches people from the primary to the secondary data centre quickly and transparently so they can continue working. Meanwhile, IT can focus on protecting Windows apps and data hosted within the data centre, rather than having to manage local apps and data on myriad user devices throughout the organisation.

8. Minimise the impact of information security breaches

No strategy can guarantee perfect information security in perpetuity. An essential part of risk management is limiting the damage caused by incidents that do arise.

Centralised management enables IT to take fast action in the event of a security breach or misconfiguration. The first line of defence is using virtualisation to isolate sensitive apps and data and run them on user privilege accounts (instead of user-controlled machines), minimising the impact of the breach of a single component.

9. Support rapid business growth

When organisations open new branch offices, expand existing locations or merge with or acquire another company, an overly complex, distributed security model can delay time to value while employees wait for IT to secure each endpoint.

App and desktop virtualisation provides the ability to extend the organisation’s existing security model to new locations, people and groups quickly, easily and cost-effectively. It simplifies remote office and branch management in several ways such as local lockdown, rapid setup and high availability—enabling IT to provide instant access to virtual desktops with no need for network integration. Adding new users to existing groups according to their security profile and work requirements means that the right policies are applied from day one.

10. Get security out of people’s way

Traditionally, security has been enforced at the expense of users. They’ve been forced to work in a limited number of places, to access restricted resources, to rely on standard corporate equipment, to sacrifice mobility and to spend more time authenticating into systems and managing their passwords. In response, even the most loyal employees can take an adversarial view of security and look for ways to circumvent or subvert the rules—such as copying data onto a forbidden USB drive to work at home, installing unauthorised apps, ignoring network access policies and using their own devices and apps without restriction.

App and desktop virtualisation turns this model on its head. Instead of dealing with endless details of endpoint security, people simply sign on once to a virtual desktop containing their virtual apps and receive on-demand access anywhere they need to work, on the device of their choosing. They are free to do their work while IT handles security centrally in the data centre.

Strengthen Your Cyber Security Posture

Organisations can’t afford to fall behind in the attempt to get their information security practices under control. Virtual desktops provide a secure-by-design solution to simplify access and promote business productivity, flexibility and growth while protecting intellectual property, ensuring data privacy, meeting compliance requirements and managing risk.

Six Degrees’ Virtual Desktop services take the pain away from end user compute, delighting your users with the latest applications and devices while delivering a fully-managed service wrap that enables you to focus on transformation – not day-to-day management.

Our new eBook 10 Reasons to Strengthen Security with App and Desktop Virtualisation discusses the use of app and desktop virtualisation to strengthen information security, including:

  • The growing challenge of maintaining information security in today’s evolving professional environment.
  • Key advantages of app and desktop virtualisation as an inherently more secure computing architecture.
  • The top 10 benefits of using app and desktop virtualisation to strengthen information security.

Download the eBook to explore how virtualisation can help your organisation pursue top priorities such as mobility, flexible working and consumerisation while effectively managing risk, securing information, supporting global compliance and strengthening business continuity planning.

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