I conferred with some of the security experts at Citrix on the topic of people and security. Their advice came in several key areas:
Physical access to IT assets: Gaining physical access to machines greatly increases the damage and theft of data a malicious user can do. For this reason, admins should restrict physical access to sensitive resources – for example, restricting access to the XenApp farm to Citrix administrators with authorized access cards.
Citrix products offer a great advantage in making it unnecessary to have applications and data locally stored, so physical access is less of an issue. Some of our most security sensitive customers publish the application that can manipulate sensitive data but disable client drive mapping and the clipboard virtual channel and print screen functionality so that no data can leave the data center.
Unattended and unlocked user workstations are also a liability and a policy that requires users to lock workstations when they leave the work area is strongly suggested. System configuration to lock workstations after a few minutes of inactivity and password-protected screen savers are also good measures.
Separation of Duties: Security policy should be such that no one person or role holds all control. This means assigning roles in a manner in which it takes more than one person to accomplish certain tasks. For example, if the task is releasing a binary to a customer, a software developer should not QA their own code. Similarly, an administrator’s activities should be monitored by a separate auditing role.
Citrix brings value here as well, with a separate role for Citrix Administrators who share control of the overall system with Local and Network Administrators. The Citrix Administrators manage only the Citrix environment, so there is additional separation of duties.
Least Privilege: The old “need to know” basis! Well in this case, “need to have permission to do.” People’s roles in an organization and access rights should be broken down to grant users only the privileges that they need for their particular jobs. This applies to admins as well – for example, the database admin should not have management rights on the mail server or security console or the network.
Citrix allows you to publish applications using different roles to further restrict access to certain data and privileges.
The whole point of least privilege is that if an attacker is able to compromise an account, they can only do a small subset of tasks on the network/database/machine.
There are several ways people can weaken corporate security with their management of passwords. The problem with passwords is users would like them to be easy to remember. As a result, they may attempt to simplify things by using the following bad practices:
- Write down their passwords
- Set all of their application passwords to the same thing
- Use really easy-to-guess passwords, like their dog’s name
- Use the same password every other time they change it (just alternating)
- Using trivial and short passwords, like 123
- Never changing their passwords
These user antics are not good for corporate security! Security Policy should specify:
- Password length
- Password complexity (require special characters, mix of letters and numbers, etc.)
- Password history enforcement (force a new password and don’t allow repeats for a certain number of passwords.)
- Disallowing the use of dictionary words in the password
- Prohibit the use of obvious words, like Citrix, in a password
- Password expiry, forcing password changes
Enforcement of this policy is a different matter. Citrix Password Manager can help administrators enforce these policies in a corporate setting. Plus, with CPM you can configure such that users do not even know their own passwords, very effectively preventing sharing. As a side benefit, if the user leaves, de-provisioning and assuring the user can no longer access any assets is much easier, since the user didn’t know their passwords in the first place.