VDI: How your hospital can benefit and keep your data secure

With an increased emphasis on data security regulations, many businesses are turning to Virtual Desktop Infrastructure (VDI).

In environments where standardization and consistency are important – like in hospitals – VDI provides a centralized management point for infrastructure, data and security needs.

Specifically, VDI refers to the process of running a user desktop inside a virtual machine that lives on a server in the data center or cloud. VDI solutions allow for fully personalized desktops for each user, and streamlining of management by consolidating and centralizing desktops. It also provides cost reduction through support for both BYOD – allowing employees to bring their own device and run VDI on it – and Thin Clients which share the screen and send keyboard and mouse clicks upstream to the virtual machine running the VDI, as well as employee access to apps and data from anywhere, on any device.

VDI allows professionals to access just the information and tools they need, making an organization’s computing system more efficient and cost-effective. The structure of a virtualized platform also makes it possible to scale much more quickly as staffing fluctuates.

From a security perspective, VDI enables organizations to minimize risk by hosting endpoint data in a centralized, more isolated data center through virtual desktops, rather than on an endpoint device. In this way, lost or stolen devices are far less vulnerable to breach, since only a screen image is sent down to the client, not the data itself.

Until now, high upfront costs and low performance hindered the adoption of VDI. Now, as hospitals leverage technologies like the cloud and Hyperconverged Infrastructure (HCI), virtual desktops are becoming faster, simpler, and cheaper to deliver to users than ever before.

Given the benefits, you may be wondering if your hospital should seize the opportunity that VDI presents. The short answer is, yes. You’ll need to consider, though, that data and applications previously residing on endpoint devices will now reside in the data center, which is not immune to its own risks at both the physical and virtual layer. Even more, data will now move from one point (device) to multiple points across the data center, including virtual hard drives, virtual machines and file servers – not to mention backups and snapshots. Securing data and apps in the data center is more critical now than ever as hospitals move to hybrid, multi-cloud models.

So how can your hospital reap the benefits of VDI while reducing your security and compliance risks? Following are four considerations:

Adopt a unified security approach. VDI has multiple points of vulnerability as mentioned, including virtual desktops, disks, file servers and endpoint devices used to access them. Consider security practices and platforms that protect – and allow you to easily view and manage the status of – data across all endpoints, the data center and the cloud, for a cohesive, comprehensive approach to security.

Take into account that there are multiple types of VDI. There are many kinds of VDI solutions available on the market. Consider security offerings that can manage more than one type, or you may end up overseeing solutions from multiple security vendors, making management more challenging and leaving room open for risk.

Bear in mind that platforms have different security needs. VDI can run across Mac, Linux and Windows. It’s important to know if and how your security solutions can work with these different platforms to keep your data safe.

Use encryption. One of the biggest challenges faced by hospitals today is the overwhelming number of data privacy and security regulations and impending audits as a result. Data breach notification and failed audits can be mitigated with the use of FIPS 140-2 compliant encryption solutions and effective key management to protect confidential data wherever it resides.

In Conclusion
Whether it’s through VDI or other means of infrastructure management, your hospital cannot take lightly the responsibility of protecting the data you have. If you don’t safeguard it, your organization risks receiving fines and lawsuits, and experiencing significant reputation damage that most often follows a breach. You strive to provide the best care for your patients – the same needs to be said for their data.

Mark Hickman, COO of WinMagic

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