Update: This article was last updated on 17th November 2021 to reflect the accuracy and up-to-date information on the page.
VDI (Virtual Desktop Infrastructure) is proving to be an aid for businesses in the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic. Most companies are opting for VDI solutions from third-party providers- a service better known as Hosted VDI services.
However, one major concern for any company while selecting a hosted VDI provider is data security. In hosted VDI, the service providers deliver virtual desktops on the users’ end-point devices. Hence, the provider must ensure secure storage, processing, and transmission of data and apps to prevent it from hardware threats or cyber-attacks.
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Here are some security aspects that you should look for in a hosted VDI provider.
1. Data Center Security
Datacenter security encompasses all the factors related to the security that the provider deploys at the data center(s). It is critical for you to analyze the physical security implemented to ensure safety against any physical attempts to compromise your data.
Some of the security features you should consider are:
- CCTV Surveillance
- Onsite security staff with badges
- Multiple levels of access to the facility- biometrics, retina, etc.
- Regular security auditing
In addition to these features, should also ask the provider about the provider’s data center location. The provider should have multiple data center locations that are not in disaster-prone areas. The data centers should also be close to your site to reduce transmission time and threats.
2. Network Security
Virtual Desktop Infrastructure involves data transmission and desktops over long distances from the provider’s servers to the user’s endpoint device. Hence, the provider must deploy end-to-end network security. Please check whether the hosted VDI provider deploys –
- Redundant network infrastructure
- 24×7 network monitoring
- TLS 1.3 data encryption in transit
- Well-defined incident management
- Distributed Firewall
- IP restrictions
- DDoS mitigation
There are various types of compliances, both government and private, that the companies must adhere to while dealing with the storage of specific datasets. Some of these are GDPR (General Data Protection Regulation), CCPA (California Consumer Privacy Act), HIPAA, PCI DSS, SOC 1, and SOC 2.
Ensure that the hosted VDI providers are compliant with all the necessary regulations. For instance, if you are involved with a healthcare institution, ensure that the provider is HIPAA compliant. If the provider is compliant, it assures you of optimum security.
4. OS and Application Security
OS patches and application updates are an essential aspect of desktop security. The Windows OS rolls out new security patches regularly to counter the latest threats and vulnerabilities. Moreover, the applications also need to be updated to keep them secure.
In VDI, the patches can be implemented in all virtual desktops simultaneously. You must ensure that the hosted VDI provider deploys effective patch and antivirus management procedures. The provider must include:
- Privilege management
- Enterprise-grade antivirus
- Application controls
- Data and OS backup
5. Group Policies
An organization consists of multiple departments, such as accounting, HR, sales, and many others. Each department has its requirements depending on the daily tasks. It is important to manage the desktop functions as per the different departments to enhance endpoint security. This can be achieved through group policy controls.
While selecting a hosted VDI provider, check if the provider deploys group policies. With a group policy, you can allow or deny access to specific desktop properties such as copy/paste, printing, scanning, USB, etc. The provider can create desktop pools, where you can provide the permissions to specific groups.
VDI is a remote working solution that facilitates the delivery of virtual desktops on end-point devices. This leads to security issues at the end-point level. If any of the user’s device gets stolen, any unauthorized user can have access to the company data. Moreover, a user can delete a critical file accidentally, leading to irreparable losses.
Identity and Access Management is a system that enables the efficient management of authorized identities, users, and devices. IAM involves keeping a detailed database of the user identities, keeping track of user activities, and authenticating access. You can set roles to users according to their process and give permissions to files accordingly.
IAM is a critical function when you are looking for a hosted VDI provider.
7. Disaster Recovery Solution
Natural disasters can occur at any time, and when they do, it takes down an entire geographical location. If such a disaster, such as an earthquake or flood, strikes a provider’s data center, the data can be lost forever. Hence, the provider should have a disaster recovery solution as a part of the Cloud VDI solution.
Disaster recovery involves a set of procedures, best practices, and infrastructural designs to ensure business continuity in the event of disruptive events, such as natural disasters, cyberattacks, or accidents. With disaster recovery, the entire business process is replicated in multiple data center locations. These locations are in different geographical areas.
Consequently, when a disaster strikes one location, your access is shifted to another data center, and you can continue working.
Backing up data regularly is vital to protect it from internal and external threats, such as DDoS attacks, hardware failures, etc.
While selecting a hosted VDI service, please ensure that the provider offers a robust backup solution. The backup should be taken automatically on a daily or hourly basis with an unlimited retention period. Also, ask if the provider offers backup services as a part of the subscription or charges extra.
These were the essential security features that the hosted VDI provider should offer to ensure complete data protection. However, you should also ensure other factors such as the provider’s downtime history, response time during an attack, and data restoration procedure.
Do you know other security features to look for in a cloud VDI provider? Let us know in the comments.
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