Networking, Content

How Microsoft Windows 365 May Reduce Ransomware Attack Threats

When Microsoft announced the Windows 365 cloud service at the Inspire 2021 partner conference, ChannelE2E wondered: Is the cloud-based design more secure than traditional Windows 10 and Windows 11 operating systems running locally on business PCs?

For some third-party perspective, ChannelE2E reached out to Nerdio, a desktop as a service (DaaS) pioneer that focuses on MSPs -- and one of Microsoft's first Windows 365 partners.

Jospeh Landes, CRO, Nerdio
Jospeh Landes, chief revenue officer, Nerdio

Or most pressing question: Are cloud-delivered Windows 365 services safer from ransomware attacks compared to traditional PC operating systems? Nerdio Chief Revenue Officer Joseph Landes offered this perspective:

"Windows 365 is "more secure" than traditional on-premises PC deployments, especially when it comes to ransomware.  Microsoft calls this "security by design".  What they mean by this is that Cloud PCs run entirely in the cloud and the only thing that gets transmitted to the user are encrypted pixels. Because Cloud PCs are only accessible via secure Remote Desktop client apps and not directly via the network, there are fewer ways for ransomware to connect to the PC and encrypt files.

In a typical on-premises environment, a single user on a local network can click on a malicious link, download ransomware that will scan the entire network and connect to all PCs and servers via the LAN and encrypt them.  This is much less likely with Cloud PCs because even if a colleague's local device is scanning for PCs to encrypt, it won't be able to access the cloud-hosted ones.

There is still the risk of someone downloading ransomware on their Cloud PC itself and encrypting the data this way, which is why additional layered security approaches are needed.  Windows 365 supports Microsoft Defender for Endpoints that can help protect from such occurrences.

While Cloud PCs don't fully eliminate the risk of ransomware, they certainly reduce it."

MSPs can test that thesis starting on August 2, 2021, when Microsoft launches Windows 365.

Nerdio's MSP Partner Support for Windows 365

Nerdio, meanwhile, is gearing up to help MSPs with Windows 365 deployments. The effort spans Nerdio Manager for MSP and Nerdio Manager for Enterprise (formerly known as NerdioManager for Windows Virtual Desktop). Both of those tools are expanding to allow users to choose between Azure Virtual Desktop and Windows 365, Nerdio says. Specifically:

  • Nerdio Manager for MSP provides a unified console to price, deploy, manage, and optimize all types of virtual desktops in the  Microsoft cloud – both Azure Virtual Desktop and Windows 365 – across multiple customers, Landes says.
  • Nerdio Manager for Enterprise helps IT pros enable Windows 365 in their existing Azure environment and manage both AVD and Windows 365 from a unified console leveraging powerful and automated image management, monitoring, auto-scaling, and scripted actions, he adds. Nerdio Manager will enable migration scenarios from AVD to Windows 365 and vice versa so each user can get the right type of virtual desktop in the most cost-effective way, Landes asserts.

Additional MSP Tools and Channel Partner Support for Windows 365

Meanwhile, additional multiple distributors and MSP software providers are gearing up to support Windows 365. Among the moves to note:

  • RMM (remote monitoring and management) Software: Kaseya's R&D team plans to validate support for Windows 365 in Q3 of 2021, the company tells ChannelE2E. Additional RMM companies are taking a "wait and see" approach to determine MSP- and end-customer demand for Windows 365.
  • Cloud Distribution: Both Ingram Micro and Pax8 confirmed Windows 365 support plans to ChannelE2E.
  • IT Service Management (ITSM): Joint ServiceNow-Microsoft customers will be able to request and receive Cloud PCs directly through Microsoft Teams. The integration leverages ServiceNow IT Service Management (ITSM) and Virtual Agent to integrate workflows through Microsoft Teams, ServiceNow says.

Monthly pricing for for Windows 365 cloud services has not been disclosed, but some Windows 365 subscription details have leaked out ahead of the formal August 2, 2021, launch.

Joe Panettieri

Joe Panettieri is co-founder & editorial director of MSSP Alert and ChannelE2E, the two leading news & analysis sites for managed service providers in the cybersecurity market.