Virtualization of physical computer systems is a popular act that has many positive benefits. One of the most common forms of virtualization is desktop virtualization, being able to access your desktop from anywhere, on any machine. Desktop virtualization will continue to be popular well into the future, yet some managers are unsure about the security of virtual desktops.
In general, you can do nearly everything on a virtual desktop that you can do with a physical desktop. The majority of office oriented software now has versions that operate in the cloud, or give administrators the ability to install the program on one machine and license it out to other machines.
The largest difference between the two systems comes in the form of security. Virtual desktops are susceptible to the exact same security issues as their physical counterparts, but they also have a few extra potential problems which are unique to virtual machines. The biggest security issue with virtual desktops comes in the form of access. With physical machines, you can lock an office door which will usually prevent people from physically accessing the machine. With virtual machines you are not able to do this. Anyone with access and a password can get onto the machine.
While this may sound like a deterrence to the adoption of virtual desktops, users should be aware that vendors are aware of this issue and have adopted measures to ensure their products are safe. In fact, if implemented properly, virtual desktops are often safer.
To ensure safety of data and machines virtual desktops need to be implemented in a specific manner. For example, some solutions will create a new environment every time you need to access a different system. This is like starting with a blank slate, with unnecessary data being deleted when you log off. Users won’t be able to customize their workspace, but it can help stave off problems of errant downloading, or installation of unnecessary programs.
Other systems allow users to customize their workspace, but save the changes in a separate location when the user logs off. This keeps any changes made to the base system easy to keep track of, and it’s easier to spot security problems, while keeping them local.
If you’re looking into virtualizing your office’s desktops, we strongly recommend you work with an experienced IT partner who can help deploy a system that meets your needs, while remaining safe. We can help with virtualization, so why not give us a call?