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Striking the balance between remote working and security is something that few organizations have achieved. 

Research shows that 67% of business-impacting cyberattacks targeted remote workers, resulting in a loss of confidential data, interruption of daily operations, ransomware payout, financial loss or theft, or theft of intellectual property. 

However, as remote and hybrid working create new security risks, many organizations are looking to Desktop-as-a-service (DaaS) solutions to provide secure remote access to critical resources. 

One of the key reasons is that DaaS solutions enable users to connect to virtual apps and desktops without accessing data locally on the device, making it more difficult for cyber criminals to steal sensitive information, while enabling security teams to implement zero-trust network access for apps.

VentureBeat recently spoke to Executive Vice President of Business Strategy at Citrix, Tim Minahan, to find out about the biggest challenges in securing hybrid workspaces and how DaaS solutions are helping enterprises to meet these security challenges.  

Below is an edited transcript of the conversation. 

VentureBeat: What do you see as the biggest security challenges in securing hybrid workspaces? 

Minahan: Employees used to come to the office every day and work from company-managed assets. Today, they may be working at home, in the office, on the road and anywhere in between using unsecured personal devices and networks. And it’s opened a whole new set of challenges that IT must manage. 

With employees working away from the classic office setting, they often prefer to use their own devices. And it’s tough to gauge how secure these devices are. And then you think about all the applications needed to get work done. 

We did some research that shows 64% of employees are using more communication and collaboration tools than they were prior to the pandemic. And more than 90% of IT vulnerabilities are application-based. 

VentureBeat: What role do digital workspaces play in increasing the security of remote workspaces? 

Minahan: Think of digital workspaces as a secure bubble where everything happens. Whether people are working in the office or remotely, they’re always connected to a virtual desktop which runs from a datacenter – either on-prem or in the cloud. 

When they are accessing documents or receiving emails, there’s no data going to their devices. It all happens within the workspace. So, if someone is in a coffee shop and their laptop gets stolen, there is nothing on it. 

VentureBeat: What types of tasks/workloads are Digital workspaces most suitable for? 

Minahan: The right digital workspaces can provide a unified, secure and simplified work experience for every employee — across every work type. But you can’t just cobble together a bunch of individual chat and collaboration technologies to create them. You need a platform that does three things: 

  • Unifies work: Whether at home, on a plane or in an office, employees have consistent and reliable access to all the resources they need to be productive across any work channel, device or location.
  • Secures work: Contextual access and app security, ensure applications and information remain secure — regardless of where work happens.
  • Simplifies work: Intelligence capabilities like machine learning, virtual assistants and simplified workflows personalize, guide and automate the work experience, so employees can work free from noise and perform at their best. 

eBay has been using Citrix virtual apps and desktop solutions for nearly a decade to support secure and reliable delivery of applications and information to more than 9,000 call center agents and third-party contractors worldwide. 

They also use Citrix ADC for delivery of these internal enterprise apps – as well as to optimize performance and uptime of its public-facing online marketplace. 

A few years ago, they approached us with a problem. Their traditional call center model was broken. Like other companies, they built large call center hubs in metropolitan areas with lots of workers. 

But they were right down the street from their competitors – all fighting or the same talent. And turnover was running rampant. It was not a sustainable model. 

They worked with us to build a new model of remote call center agents — the stay-at-home parent or caregiver in Utah, the retiree in Florida, the gig-worker outside of Indianapolis. What we call the “home force.” 

To support this, they transitioned to Citrix DaaS and expanded to new networking and security capabilities – including zero-trust access protection. And they didn’t stop there. 

As the pandemic rolled in, they expanded this secure remote access model to their broader base of 13,000 employees and transition to use our cloud-native networking services to give them greater flexibility and control/ 

VentureBeat: How do you see off-site security evolving over the next 5 years or so? 

Minahan: We did a survey with Pulse and more than half of the IT leaders who responded (58.66%) say they have or will implement a DaaS solution over the next 18 months. And (81.33%) plan to increase their investments in the year ahead. 

When asked to rank the top three benefits they expect to reap in making the moves, those polled cited: 

  • Increased security (41%) 
  • Cost savings (39.67%) 
  • Increased IT efficiency (13.33%) 

With DaaS, IT can deploy secure desktops with the speed and scale that hybrid work demands and provide safe and managed access to virtual software applications, no matter where employees are working or what devices they are using. 

And they get the same centralization and security benefits that VDI provides, along with improved scalability and reduced cost. 

VentureBeat: what are Citrix’s plans for enhancing its DaaS offering in the future? 

Minahan: We’ve been partnering with the major hyper scalers to give our customers the choice to run their workloads in the place that makes the most sense for them. 

Whether they stay in the data center or move to the cloud, we give them the flexibility through a single control plane to monitor and manage distributed, multi-cloud environments. And this has opened the door for DaaS to support new use cases, including project-based needs for developers, contractors, seasonal workers and M&A.

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