2009 Desktop Virtualization Survey – Understanding the New Security Risks

David Ting
Feb 03, 2012

Last December, I blogged about the growing interest in implementing desktop virtualization (VDI) and the enterprise security challenges companies would face in this new environment. As with any new technology the best way to learn what is really happening is to listen to the field. With that in mind we polled executives across industries to understand the rate of VDI adoption and recently released the results as part of the “2009 Desktop Virtualization Survey.”

While organizations are increasingly embracing VDI/hosted virtual desktop as a way to reduce IT costs associated with desktop maintenance, there are still security concerns and fundamental challenges facing these companies as they change to this new desktop delivery vehicle. Most of these concerns center around managing user identities, roles and enforcing access policies.

In a VDI environment, user identities become relevant in multiple points within the virtual desktop, making the coordination and enforcement of access policies a more difficult task. Having a centralized way to manage user identities, roles and access policies is critical. This is true however you choose to deliver desktops to your users.

To help deal with these security challenges, the survey found organizations are increasingly turning to strong authentication solutions such as fingerprint biometrics, and proximity cards to associate a user identity to the desktop so an authentication and policy can be applied to control the type desktop the user can access. This type of strong authentication ensures the desktop is being used by a properly credentialed user and provides the critical step in managing role-based access at the desktop level.

As the unique security challenges of VDI become more well know, I expect we’ll see a greater emphasis on multiple forms of strong authentication to coordinate user IDs and access policies, which will enable organizations to overcome the final barrier to realizing the true potential of VDA solutions.

I’ll be discussing this and more in an upcoming webinar with Forrester’s Natalie Lambert, go here to register.

Have you implemented VDI in your organization? Are you on that track? Let me know what challenges you’re facing.