VDI vs. VPN: Does VDI Act as the Demise Of VPN?

“Nothing lasts forever, certainly not in the digital age.” – Yaniv Balmas.

As Yaniv Balmas, the Head of Cyber Research at Check Point, points out, everything in the digital age is transient. New technologies and solutions are constantly emerging, and old ones are becoming obsolete.

The same holds for Virtual Private Networks (VPNs), which have long been the go-to solution for remote access. However, with the rise of Virtual Desktop Infrastructure (VDI), is this solution still the best option?

Many are questioning whether VPNs are becoming outdated and even obsolete.

We’ll take a closer look at the differences between VDI and VPN to help you decide based on your organizational requirements.

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What is VDI (Virtual Desktop Infrastructure)?

Virtual Desktop Infrastructure (VDI) is a technology that enables remote access to a desktop operating system and its applications through a virtual machine. The virtual machine is hosted on a server, allowing users to access it from any device with an internet connection.

With VDI, sensitive data is stored on a server rather than individual devices, reducing the risk of data loss in case of device theft or damage.

Additionally, VDI allows IT teams to quickly provision and de-provision access to desktop environments, enabling a faster response to security threats and preventing unauthorized access.

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What is VPN (Virtual Private Network)?

A Virtual Private Network (VPN) is a technology that creates a secure and encrypted connection between two endpoints over the public internet. In essence, a VPN is a tunnel that allows two devices to communicate as if they were on a private network, even though they may be thousands of miles apart.

To establish a VPN connection, a client application on a device encrypts the data it sends and encapsulates it within an outer packet. This packet is then sent through the internet to a VPN server, which decrypts the data and forwards it to the intended recipient. The process works in reverse for data sent back from the recipient.

VPNs also enable organizations to control access to their network, limiting access to authorized users and devices. However, VPNs have some security setbacks, such as potential vulnerabilities in the VPN software, the need for complex configurations, and the risk of users inadvertently bypassing security measures.

Recommended Reading: Are Citrix And VPN The Same? Here’s What You Need to Know

VDI Vs. VPN: What is this Concept Exactly?

Today, most employees work on Windows at home, at the office, or while traveling. It suggests that they are working on different networks. Therefore, the Information Technology (IT) teams might wonder what should be provided to them.

A virtual desktop infrastructure (VDI) can be accessed on any device on any network or a local laptop that runs locally and establishes a connection to the office via a virtual private network (VPN) when the team member wants to access corporate files and applications.

The more secure one offers better user experience and is easier to deploy. So, let’s see what fits your organizational goals. It depends on the applications you need to support- web apps or Windows apps.

Are your users operating on their own devices, or will you provide them with one? Is your requirement dynamic?

Recommended Read: Are Citrix And VPN The Same? Here’s What You Need to Know

Using VPN for Remote Working

VPN simply means users work on their corporate devices at home and access locally installed applications. And when they want to access business applications, they connect with the VPN to enter the corporate network.

While VPNs are a powerful tool for securing data in transit, there may be better options in some situations. For example, some countries restrict VPN use, making it difficult or even illegal.

Additionally, VPNs can be resource-intensive, sometimes leading to performance issues. This is especially true when large amounts of data need to be transmitted over the VPN connection.

Is VPN Dead

Here’s the Issue with VPNs

VPNs are in demise now.

The reason behind it is the incapability of VPNs to secure the attack surface when the user is working remotely. VPNs only perform the best when the user is a certain defined perimeter. However, that’s not the scenario anymore; users work from different locations, including different cities or towns.

Recommended Reading: VPN vs. RDS vs. VDI – Choosing the Best Remote Solution

The VPN server runs on a local network, and the user must install a VPN client locally to access the network. The VPN model works on entry based on credentials that attackers can easily hack. The actual fault in the VPN is that it establishes a secure web-based only on credentials; the network might easily be exploited.

VPN also falls flat when it comes to noticing the user activity in the network; thus, any unauthorized user can go unnoticed, leading to insider threats.

Verizon Data Breach Investigations Report states that around 30 percent of data breaches occur due to human error or employees acting maliciously. As a result, malware hazards impacting a remote device or network can infect the corporate network. Segmenting an enterprise network to restrict access over VPN is complex and does not ensure security from lateral threat activities.

Using enterprise-issued devices with added security measures minimizes threats but does not remove them permanently. Since remote workers generally work on their own devices, the risk dramatically increases as they need a certain level of safeguards compared to enterprise devices.

Employing a VPN is equivalent to placing a remote device inside the enterprise network without the cyberattack protection framework, which makes it vulnerable to phishing or malware attacks.

Watch this video to know more:

VDI Vs. VPN: Key Differences to Note

When it comes to VDI vs. VPNs, they differ in several key ways from a security standpoint.

VPNs are designed to create a secure pathway between a user’s device and a private network, whereas VDI enables users to access a virtual desktop environment hosted on a server. Here are some of the key differences between VDI and VPNs from a security perspective:

Centralized Control:

With VDI, IT teams can maintain central control over user access, making managing and enforcing security policies easier. In contrast, VPNs can be more challenging to manage since users may access the network from different locations and devices.

Data Protection:

Since VDI stores all data on a central server, protecting sensitive data from unauthorized access or theft is easier. With VPNs, data is often stored on individual devices, increasing the risk of data breaches or theft.

Application Control:

VDI allows IT teams to control which applications users can access, reducing the risk of malware infections or unauthorized access. In contrast, VPNs may allow users to access any application on the network, potentially increasing the risk of malware infections or data breaches.

Scalability:

VDI can be more scalable than VPNs since it allows multiple users to access a single virtual desktop environment. This makes it easier to provision and de-provision access as needed, ensuring that only authorized users can access sensitive data.

Recommended Reading: 7 Benefits Virtual Desktop Infrastructure Offers to the Business

Here’s a comparison table of the security differences between VPNs and VDI:

Security Feature

VPN 

 VDI 

End-to-End Encryption ✔️  
Centralized Control and Management  ✔️ 
Data Stored on Server  ✔️ 
Risk of Malware Infections ✔️  
Risk of Data Breaches ✔️  
Ease of Use ✔️  
Scalability ✔️ ✔️ 
Vulnerability to Exploits ✔️  

Using VDI for Remote Working

Imagine a scenario where a multinational company with a large remote workforce was using VPNs to provide secure remote access to its employees. One day, an employee working from a coffee shop connected to the company’s VPN and accessed sensitive data.

Unfortunately, the VPN had vulnerabilities that the attacker exploited, and the data was compromised. This incident was a wake-up call for the company, and they realized they needed a more secure solution.

That’s when they discovered VDI.

By adopting VDI, they could centralize control and management of their remote access, ensuring that only authorized users could access sensitive data.

The company also reduced the risk of malware infections and data breaches since all data was stored on a server rather than individual devices. The IT team could easily provision and de-provision access, enabling a faster response to security threats and preventing unauthorized access.

Virtual Desktop Infrastructure (VDI) is traditionally described as a technology where a user can remotely access corporate resources with the help of a virtual machine hosted on a server in a data center.

The Long-lasting Future of Virtual Desktops: VDI the Savior

VDI doesn’t restrict you to what device you work on. It can be a Windows desktop, laptop, Chromebook, Linux, or MacBook. It is just about implementing security measures and providing access to it.

Connecting a VDI desktop is easier than ever. No, IT intervention is required after the infrastructure has been set up and your device is authenticated. You have to log in, and you have access to the full setup corporate desktop within minutes.

Most importantly, it comes with ‘built-in’ security, where all applications and data are housed on the servers. The model works on the end-to-end encryption of core disk files and data, which better safeguards sensitive data.

VDI security architecture is crucial to reducing the vulnerabilities expected in virtual environments. The pace at which businesses are growing needs IT admin to allocate resources, such as storage, computing, and networking.

The unified virtualization platform accelerates and facilitates the provisioning of virtual desktops while ensuring data center infrastructure and workloads security.

VDI is monitored for anomalies to ensure prompt and proactive remedial action to protect virtual desktop data and resources. The vulnerability scanning obstructs traffic and isolates the virtual machine whenever any questionable activity occurs.

Recommended Reading: The Future of VDI: Advancements and Predictions for 2030 and Beyond

Always Verify, Never Trust: Here’s What You Need to Know About Zero Trust VDI Model

Cloudflare reports state that 46% of enterprises experience slow connection and high application latency with VPNs. Therefore, 76% plan to accelerate their shift to a zero-trust security framework.

The zero-trust model is a security framework that only enables users to access the workspace if they meet certain key credentials.

See How You Can Achieve Zero Trust With Ace Cloud VDI

Instead of giving entry to users based on credentials or location (as they are inside the corporate network), every user is verified and validated before granting admission to any application. These validation factors may include device ID, network type, the application they are trying to access, and more.

The key takeaway is that the Zero-trust model accepts access on a highly granular level if they are company employees or have credentials.

Such an instance is when an authenticated marketing team member would be granted access to CRM during business hours on registered IP on the corporate-owned device and would quickly get access. However, if a finance team member tries to do the same outside working hours, it would certainly raise a red flag. Zero-trust recognizes legitimate users and denies their entry.

VDI vs. VPN: What’s The Call?

To conclude, VPNs are partially dead; however, they decline with time if they are not evolved to meet remote work criteria. The zero-trust framework on VDI unlocks a new way of security and access, governing in favor of flexible work.

The future of VDI looks bright with zero trust by bringing real business value to well-entrenched organizations.

Also, VDI stands out for its centralized control and management of user access, reducing the risk of data breaches and unauthorized access.

And if you’re looking for the best cloud VDI solution that offers unmatched security features, look no further than us.

ACE Hosted VDI solution provides a secure and scalable environment that enables your employees to work remotely without worrying about data loss or theft.

We also offer managed cloud desktops that are easy to deploy and maintain, so you can focus on your core business without the hassle of managing complex infrastructure. With our hosted VDI solution, you get peace of mind knowing that your data is secure and that your employees can work efficiently from anywhere in the world.

About Julie Watson

Julie is a dynamic professional with over 16 years of rich experience as a VDI and Application Hosting expert. At Ace Cloud Hosting, she humanizes disruptive and emerging remote working trends to help leaders discover new and better possibilities for digital transformation and innovation by using cloud solutions with an enterprise-class security approach. Beyond work, Julie is a passionate surfer.
On the weekend, you will find her hanging out with her family or surfing around the North Shore of Oahu.

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