Security developer OPSWAT has announced the Secure Virtual Desktop (SVD), an unusual ‘desktop isolation’ system designed to lock down sensitive corporate applications using a mixture of browser virtualisation and proxying.

The SVD launches as a parallel desktop on any PC from a small download, walling off all activity within the session from the host Windows XP, Vista or 7 OS.  

From inside this environment, external drives become inaccessible, printing is disabled, and copy/paste is rendered inactive – nothing can enter or leave the session except the applications designated to operate from within the only browser supported, Internet Explorer.

The list of compatible applications is very specific, including Office, Notepad, Adobe Reader, iTunes, and a number of utilities but web systems such as Salesforce can also be accessed. Browser add-ons can in theory be installed but this is not recommended. Application whitelisting is supported.

At the end of a session – which could be on a kiosk system, a home PC used for work, or a customer PC – all data including browsing history and files opened and closed is erased.

The SVD is really OPSWAT’s take on the session virtualisation and secure browser systems that have popped up around the fringes of security, usually embedded on USB sticks. The SVD does have an extra trick in that it anonymises IP addresses through a proxy, which stops Google caching user data.

“With this technology, companies can protect their sensitive and confidential data accessed through SaaS solutions like Salesforce, and SVD’s proxy configuration allows users to privately browse the web without anyone, even Google, storing information about them,” said OPSWAT CEO, Benny Czarny.

The customer base is for now being restricted to third-part security companies looking for a security layer to integrate into their products; organisations will most likely find themselves encountering the SVD under a number of guises unconnected with OPSWAT itself.  

Interested parties can get a short demo of the technology on the OPSWAT website. Licensing and availability have not been confirmed.