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Securing Virtual Desktops: Part 2

You’ll recall a couple weeks back we discussed the impact on security of moving desktops from physical to virtual, and what that meant to your end to end architecture.  This week I’d like to offer additional perspective on that, with the help of a guest blogger from Cisco’s Security Solutions practice. 

Steven SongSteven Song is a Security Business Manager and prior to his current role, was a Security Architect for the Corporate Security Programs Organization at Cisco.  Steven’s primary responsibilities include working with customers to help them adopt strategic security technologies and solutions. He’s worked extensively with the product business units, customers and the industry to accelerate customer security solution adoption and deployment.  Steven’s post follows below:

Virtual Desktops with Real Confidence

Cisco demonstrated Data Center and VXI security at the RSA Conference last week in San Francisco.  If you didn’t get a chance to see the demo in person, don’t worry and visualize this. You’re a commercial business banker and you need constant access to your bank’s financial applications and your client records.  Sitting in the parking lot of your new prospective client, you pull up your smart phone to review a customer credit history and reply to their mortgage approval request.  While on site, you advise your client on their business expansion loan.  You use your Cisco Cius to log into your business loan application and show the best rate on-the-spot.  The client is impressed and they give you their business.  You stop by a Starbucks, and you log into your CRM application to add the deal you just won to your pipeline.   Finally when you return to your office, everything you’ve done with your smart phone and your Cius is now on your desktop, waiting right in front of you.  You’ve been using a virtual desktop that follows you no matter what endpoint device you choose.  The result goes above and beyond the IT CAPEX/OPEX benefits and right to the heart of the workplace efficiencies realized by virtual desktops. 

Since financial services organizations must adhere strictly to state and federal regulatory compliance mandates, customer privacy and financial data security is of paramount importance.  How does Cisco VXI help customers achieve such a high level of security and compliance?

Cisco’s architectural advantage is based on a defense in-depth approach.  Cisco VXI deploys security in all key areas that make up a virtual desktop environment:

- Cisco ASA 5500 Appliances (ASA) secure the data center to defend against threats and unauthorized access.
- Cisco AnyConnect Secure Mobility Solution (AnyConnect) establishes trusted access between the client and the data center.
- Cisco Virtual Security Gateway protects the virtual environment within the data center.
- Additional virtual desktop security integrates with vSphere and View 4.5 to perform off-loaded anti-virus (AV) and malware scanning operations done within a hardened virtual machine (VM).
See an overview by Tony Paikeday for more details.

Here’s some more insight on Cisco ASA and Cisco AnyConnect.  The newly released Cisco ASA 5585-X is specifically designed to protect the media-rich, highly transactional, and latency-sensitive applications in your data center.  It’s well suited for your virtual desktop security where large amounts of workloads are processed in the data center.  The latest version of Cisco AnyConnect client (version 3.0) now supports
integrated Cisco ScanSafe web Security services that offer cloud-based real-time web protection and policy enforcement, making users even more secure.  Cisco AnyConnect and Cisco ASA work together to provide full-tunnel network access through IPSec VPN, SSL VPN, and Datagram Transport Layer Security (DTLS) which is a unique choice for latency-sensitive network traffic such as video.  Cisco VXI security builds confidence and helps you meet compliance requirements.

Cisco and Nemertes Research will host a joint webcast on data center and virtualization security on Tuesday, March 1.  Register for this event and receive an exclusive Nemertes Research virtualization security white paper.

Do you feel that the virtual desktop marketplace is addressing the breadth of security concerns you have across the architecture?

Steven Song
Cisco Security Business Manager

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