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AppSense 2017 Predictions: Windows 10 Migration and Endpoint Ransomware Threats Pose Challenges for the Enterprise in 2017

VMblog Predictions 2017

Virtualization and Cloud executives share their predictions for 2017.  Read them in this 9th annual VMblog.com series exclusive.

Contributed by Simon Townsend, Chief Technologist, EMEA for AppSense

Windows 10 Migration and Endpoint Ransomware Threats Pose Challenges for the Enterprise in 2017

Plus ça change, plus c'est la même chose.  It's a classic French expression and applies to likely forces in the enterprise world of 2017.  Issues such as Windows 10 migration and the growing ransomware attacks, two items that took center stage in 2016, will continue to be at the forefront in 2017.  While more than 300,000 desktops are currently running Windows 10, the enterprise continues to lag in adoption.  We can title 2017 the ‘year of pilots' as more enterprises finally start to roll out Windows 10 and search for ways in which the OS can simplify management by replacing 3rd party products and solutions.

As Windows 10 gains traction in the enterprise, Windows endpoints, unfortunately, continue to be a ripe target for ransomware attacks. Users open the door to attacks at the endpoint and adequate user education is still sadly lacking.  We emphasize what we have said all year, that enterprises need to embrace solutions that provide more controls at the endpoint, to limit access, thus limiting risk.  Privilege management is a proven method of guarding against application-based threats, of putting controls in place that help to block entry at the endpoint. 

The more things change, the more they remain the same.  The next year we will see enterprises having to rethink their OS management as more organizations deploy Windows 10 and hopefully realizing that ransomware prevention needs to be a priority as this migration occurs. 

Ponder these 2017 predictions:

1.       Windows 10 Demands Rethinking.  People need to change their approach to managing Windows.  The new OS will update more quickly so users need to let go of the GOLD image mentality.  Simplifying management will be a key aspect as Windows 10 adoption gathers steam in the latter part of 2017. Many organisations will look to see what built in functionality in Windows 10 can replace the need for 3rd party products and solutions, thus driving more pilots in the desire to simplify management.

2.      Citrix Gathers More Power via XenApp. Microsoft and Citrix's collaboration, most recently XenApp ‘express,' serves to further validate the strength and brand of Citrix. While this may not be the product of choice for many organizations, it will validate the technology, the companies and this space.  Expect to see far more XenApp 7.x upgrades as the product now has 6.x feature parity and will support MS Server 2016 from Day 1. Also, the server helps deliver a Windows 10 like desktop and will use the long term servicing branch of Windows Server. This will drive more people to consider delivering a desktop from Server over traditional VDI.

3.      Ransomware is the Scourge of Endpoints.  Ransomware will continue to plague Windows endpoints since they are still such an easy target.  Attacks are successful due to a lack of education and inadequate protection against ransomware.  Education needs to significantly increase so users become more aware of how their actions can introduce ransomware into the organization, via endpoint activity.  In concert, enterprises need to implement robust controls to prevent attacks.  These controls will guard against unknown executables from launching by whitelisting applications that IT deems secure.  Under a ‘trusted ownership' protocol, only applications installed by administrators are allowed to execute. User-introduced applications and unknown code are automatically prevented from launching. Spending more on these systems and solutions that mitigate risk activities at the endpoint is essential to fighting ransomware.  With controls, enterprises may be able to prevent 80% of attacks. Enterprises can also work to control the effects of the remaining 20% of attacks.  For example, auditing, reporting and reducing the amount of noise to understand when an attack has taken place is key for all. Data continues to cause a problem and won't be solved anytime soon. Auditing and visualizing data in transit is vital, although, arguably, data is always ‘in transit.'

4.      The Internet of Things (IoT) Creates Security Questions.  IoT and the security issues around it will concern us but the question is: ‘who is responsible?'  Security will have to be a factor in devices as they are built since it will be difficult for 3rd parties and enterprises to secure all these devices themselves. To this purpose, key vendors will need to agree on standards and common methods.

5.      Enterprises want Simplification to Increase Business Value.  Organizations are looking to automation and self-service to streamline some tasks in order to devote more time to delivering business value, supporting innovation, increasing security measures, and containing costs. Think APIs.  Back end Architectures, virtual appliances, IIS + SQL databases all need to be automated at both build, and in business as usual, to help reduce costs. In a cloud-centric world all infrastructure and services need to become far more elastic than they are today. Users are ready for this.  They are happy to help themselves and drive their own productivity. Expect to see more requests and implementations of service catalogues and self-service portals to drive down BAU costs.

6.      Licensing Models will start to Change.  More companies will have to offer operating cost friendly, subscription-based licensing models to stay competitive. Perpetual licensing will be around through 2018; however, some customers will start to demand a pay-per-use model and vendors that embrace this change will win the longer game.  On the flip side, organizations need to be responsible for knowing what they have, where, and who was the purchaser. Software asset management and IT asset management have to be processes that are built into IT practices to ensure that this ever mobile, device agnostic world of IT can be efficiently managed.

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About the Author

Simon Townsend is Chief Technologist for AppSense, the industry's leading provider of User Environment Management solutions which deliver unprecedented user productivity while securing and simplifying workspace management at scale across physical, virtual and cloud-delivered desktops. A frequent industry speaker, Townsend has spent most of his professional life specializing in desktop, application and Citrix delivery for some of the largest organizations around the world. AppSense is a LANDESK company.

Simon Townsend 

Published Thursday, November 17, 2016 8:02 AM by David Marshall
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