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If you’re reading this, the first question you might have is “what is Virtual Desktop Infrastructure (VDI)?” Your second question might be, “What is it for?” And, finally, “what does 2-factor authentication have to do with VDI?”

June 28, 2017
Writer: IT Communications Staff Writer

If you're reading this, the first question you might have is "what is Virtual Desktop Infrastructure (VDI)?" Your second question might be, "What is it for?" And, finally, "what does 2-factor authentication have to do with VDI?"

Well, chances are that you've used VDI before without even knowing what it was. VDI is the term for when a laptop or terminal is connected to a system of servers that combine to make up a "computer." Essentially, the laptop or terminal serves as the screen extension of the computer. VDI is mostly used by online employees and students who need to access systems that are only available on-campus. This means that VDI mostly does not concern you if you are not an online employee or a student-employee; however, there are a few on-campus computer setups, such as computers in the library and at certain print stations, that are VDI-enabled.

This brings us to the third question you may or may not have asked in the beginning of this post: what does 2-factor authentication (2FA) have to do with VDI? On-campus employees - and soon, student employees as well - will need to use 2-factor authentication when logging into these computers.

The rationale behind this is simple, but powerful: we need to require 2FA for VDI connections on-campus because we're requiring it for VDI connections off-campus, and we can't require one without requiring the other. Because this system can be accessed from both on-campus and off, we have to treat it as less secure than our other on-campus systems.

Also, if you're worried that authenticating with a VDI connection is going to be some crazy complicated process, don't be - authenticating from a VDI connection will not look or work any differently from authenticating from a regular connection. Simply log in to your BYU-Idaho account and follow the usual prompts to authenticate into your account. Click here for more information about using 2FA from a VDI connection.

Speaking for myself - a student, an employee, and perhaps most important given this subject, a former victim of identity theft - I'm excited for this change to take place and for our online security to become better than ever before. My information was stolen a few years ago, and the sinking feeling I got when I logged into my account and saw that all my money had been spent on snowboards, a treadmill, international calling cards, and other random things is an experience I wouldn't wish on my worst enemy (to say nothing of the headache of trying to get my money back). 2FA is a way to ensure that nobody has to feel that way, or has to spend hours on the phone with bank representatives explaining that you were not the one who bought $300 worth of gourmet chocolate.