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Virtualisation helps stop scammers, says Salvation Army UK CIO

Thin-client virtualisation has helped protect the Salvation Army UK from scammers, according to CIO Martyn Croft.

Using Microsoft's Terminal Services, the Salvation Army replaced 1,000 PCs with thin-client virtualisation two years ago.

Croft recalls a recent incident where an employee was called by a scammer pretending to be from the charity's IT department.

He says scammers often ring users, pretending to be the IT department and asking whether their PC is running slow. The scam usually gets the user to download a Trojan virus, disguised as IT support.

"The guy [scammer] got frustrated because he had not figured out there was not a PC in front of the user. Everything the scammer asked the user to do was thwarted by all the controls put in place," Croft said.

He says the thin-client is difficult to compromise. Control filtering is in place to prevent users being directed to malicious websites.

"The good news is that the controls work. A thin-client virtualised environment is extremely difficult to compromise. You have virtual control over the laptop environment," he said.

Croft says virtualisation also improves security, with data stored "back at base" and the desktop secured in the datacentre.

As well as security benefits, virtualisation helped the charity reduce costs of IT engineering support.

"We were also most surprised with the speed. Instant-on allows the desktop to be served up very quickly," Croft said.

The Salvation Army's 24-strong IT department looks after 5,500 users across 1,000 UK locations.


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