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    Why Antivirus Is Not Enough For Virtual Desktop Security

    Why Antivirus Is Not Enough For Virtual Desktop Security

    There is no doubt that antiviruses are great at detecting and removing threats from devices. Still, with sophisticated threats looming online, an antivirus alone can’t provide enough protection when used for virtual desktop security. 

    As more and more employees start working remotely, companies rely on virtual desktop infrastructure (VDI) to help balance the demand. To protect these systems, companies need more than just antivirus. You’ll need advanced security solutions for combating data and identity theft.

    When it comes to defending virtual desktops from cyber threats, companies often use a scaled-down version of their antivirus solution. Ideally, non-persistent desktops are recommended instead of persistent ones because with the former the virtual desktop is auto-refreshed to a clean state on logouts, lowering the risk of attacks. 

    Yet, to ensure the best user experience, many features such as real-time scanning, heuristic scans, auto-updates, and more are turned off. As a result of these limitations, the antivirus solution isn’t able to provide enough protection.

    Likewise, from the ROI point of view, restricting the use of resources for each desktop ensures that more instances can be spun on each host-server. When antivirus products use many resources, this limits the amount of instances that each host server can produce, thus increasing the cost.

    Why EDR Cannot Help Either

    Another misconception prevailing among users is that EDR serves with endpoint recognition from viruses. Endpoint detection and response, also termed EDR solutions, would help the user or agent with particular solutions and would continuously send telemetry to the central console. 

    When it comes to a virtual environment, placing an agent on the desktop is required along with the host server and hypervisor. Placing a single EDR user or agent only on the host server is not sufficient for visibility for any activity that is happening on the child desktop that the IT team would require for complete monitoring of all endpoints. 

    The data ingested by the EDR solution from all the users or agents is massive, which consumes all the memory resources required on every desktop. EDR agents are the root cause of network traffic multiplied by the virtual instance number at any particular time. The network traffic is not similar to the boot storm that appears during the updates of the AV signature database. 

    Virtual desktop instances aren’t designed to work in sync with the EDR platform. The network traffic generated by the EDR agent will consume a lot of memory that was needed by the VDI to operate. Hence, EDR also doesn’t provide much security benefits for these desktops.

    How To Adapt Antivirus Software For Virtual Desktop Defense

    Both Citrix and VMware have suggested multiple ways to adapt the antivirus platform to secure virtual desktops from cyber-attacks. As mentioned, an antivirus alone can’t protect the VDI from file-less attacks, in-memory exploits, and evasive malware. 

    Moreover, having strong virtual desktop security means complete protection from virtualized endpoints from cyber threats. To detect advanced threats, companies have to integrate moving target defense mechanisms with the existing antivirus. This doesn’t consume much of the system’s resources and eliminates frequent signature-database updates. 

    Today, as more and more people are working from home, durable virtual desktop security is a must. To accomplish this, organizations need to have traditional antivirus software to complete protection from moving target defense and file-based threats. 

    What You Can Do

    For the best virtual desktop experience, the users need to look after the following things: 

    • Real-time scanning should be limited to local drives 
    • Before placing the master images for production, scan the image for any virus 
    • Clear out any unwanted antivirus processes from the login or startup routines from the desktop 
    • Heuristic scanning should be disabled for machine learning algorithms to detect any virus 
    • Auto-updates should be disabled 

    When all these changes are carried out, the antivirus system would automatically limit its protection regarding these desktops. By disabling the auto-updates, you’ll be able to avoid the boot storm delivered via the signature-database updates. Doing so would help users ensure a seamless experience. 

    Bottom Line

    Other reasons why another strong support is required for protecting the virtual desktop include the increasing number of advanced threats. Using antivirus to fight possible cyber risks is enough for single desktops, but it fails to provide enough protection when used in virtual desktop Security. Consider using the tips mentioned here to be able to balance between user experience and security.