Security Notification Websites to Monitor

There are many websites and sources you should be familiar with and check on a regular basis. Many of these sites will also have RSS feeds you should subscribe to.


FSLogix (VDI Hugs)




Palo Alto








Citrix Policy Lockdown 1.1: Planning

Locking Down Citrix Policies in many environments takes a lot of planning to do it right. While you might wish you could just come in with Thor’s hammer and lock everything down, you will get explosions and a user revolt in the process.  In this post, we will go over some of the questions I have made over the years to help Citrix Clients figure out what they need to have open and what they need to lock down.  These questionnaires can be self-answered by yourself or edited as needed to send to some of your application owners.  I would also challenge the responses on each item to understand and document why you need USB Mapping, Drive Mappings or other items. It helps you have a chain of evidence along with why your policy is the way it is.

What do you need?

What do you do with Citrix?  Every deployment has different needs, and you may have to work with lots of different stakeholders to find out what they need to do their job. You may be lucky enough to have a true applications team to provide input or you may need to find the users and/or business owners.  A saying that I think holds true for most Citrix deployments is “We don’t cook it, we just serve it.” We want to just serve/deliver the applications, but typically we have to support/install/configure all kinds of applications that we barely figured out how to install and run correctly.

The longer the users have had more than they need, the harder this may be to dial things back.  So good luck and I hope the tools below help you make things more secure.  Once we get this back for each user group then we can start making policies for each of them to allow or deny things.  I hope this helps you do a quick assessment of your XenApp or XenDesktop deployment to find out what is open and closed and can help you lock your deployment down.

Sample Citrix Security Policy Planning Questions with some helpers.

  1. What do you need outside of just your keyboard and mouse in Application X/Desktop Y?
    1. This question should spark them thinking beyond just saying do you need Copy/Paste, Access to your Computer or USB Drives. Because if you start with a buffet list of options who doesn’t want a little of everything?
  2. Do you need to copy and paste things in and or out of Application X/Desktop Y?
    1. Just Text?
    2. Within the Session?
    3. Just out of the Session?
    4. Just into the Session?
  3. Do you need to Copy/Move anything from your computers drive into or out of Application X/Desktop Y?
    1. Fixed Drives
      1. Local Drives on the Computer they are logging in from. (C Drive)
    2. Network Drives
      1. Network Drives that are mapped on their local computer.
      2. In most cases Network drives are remapped if needed in the session so this could be a double map to the same resource.
    3. Removable Media (Memory Cards or USB Drives)
      1. If you don’t want to map Media Cards (SD) and USB Drives, then Disable this.
      2. If allow USB Mapping, then you need this enabled also to make it work.
    4. Optical
      1. Not used a lot anymore, saw it in the Federal space but not out in the wild.
    5. Floppies (What’s a Floppy?)
      1. Haven’t seen it enabled post 2000 in Citrix.
    6. Do you have to use any USB devices with Application X/Desktop Y?
      1. Dictation (Medical, Law)
      2. Retail (Scanners, Readers, Label)
      3. Printing (Label, Printers)
      4. Manufacturing (Random doodads)
      5. Accounting (Check Printing)
    7. Do you need to Print?
      1. Most clients need it but there are instances where it should be disabled for Contractors\Third Parties or just different business units.
    8. Do you have any old School LPT Printers (Weird Plug with Pins?)
      1. Haven’t seen it enabled post 2000
      2. Accounting (Check Printing)
      3. Printing (Label, Printers)
      4. Manufacturing (Old Printers)
    9. Do you have any COM Devices (Serial? Weird Plug with Pins?)
      1. Manufacturing (Random doodads)
      2. Medical (Random doodads)
    10. Do you need a Microphone in Application X/Desktop Y?
      1. Most clients don’t need it.
      2. Published Application and or Virtual Desktop with VOIP would need this.
      3. Dictation (Medical, Law) (Some are hooked up via USB, so it may also be able to be disabled, mileage will vary)
    11. Do you need Audio in Application X/Desktop Y?
      1. Sometimes audio has to be mapped to hear error messages for basic application troubleshooting. In most cases you can still disable it.
      2. Published\Virtual Desktop with VOIP
      3. Dictation (Medical, Law)

Sample Citrix Security Policy Planning Questions Ready to Send

Application Owner,

We are working to further secure our Citrix deployment and want to understand what you need to do your job each day outside of just keyboard and mouse inputs.  Through this questionnaire, we hope to ensure we are giving you and your team that you need to work, but putting in place reasonable controls to help keep our environment secure.  With the ever-changing cyber security landscape, we need to do what we can to protect our company and your applications.  Please fill this out and return it to us. We may schedule a follow up meeting.

  1. What do you need outside of the beyond just your keyboard and mouse in Application X/Desktop Y?
  2. Do you need to copy and paste things in and or out of Application X/Desktop Y?
    1. Just Text?
    2. Within the Session?
    3. Just out of the Session?
    4. Just into the Session?
  3. Do you need to Copy\Move anything from your computers drive into or out of Application X/Desktop Y?
    1. Fixed Drives
      1. Local Drives on the Computer they are logging in from. (C Drive)
    2. Network Drives
      1. Network Drives that are mapped on their local computer.
    3. Removable Media (Memory Cards or USB Drives)
    4. Optical
    5. Floppies
  4. Do you have to use any USB devices with Application X/Desktop Y?
  5. Do you need to Print?
  6. Do you have any old School LPT Printers (Weird Plug with Pins?)
  7. Do you have any COM Devices (Serial? Weird Plug with Pins?)
  8. Do you need a Microphone in Application X/Desktop Y?
  9. Do you need Audio in Application X/Desktop Y?


Upcoming VDI Lockdown Blogs

  1. Citrix Clipboard Lockdown
  2. Citrix Device Mapping Lockdown
  3.  Citrix USB Lockdown
  4. Citrix Printing and “The Others” Lockdown
  5.  Citrix Policy Lockdown How-To
  6. And a couple others along with an EBook with all these articles in one document

Previous Lockdown Blogs


Thanks for all the work that Carl Webster does on keeping up with his documentation scripts and policy lists and much more.

Policy Listings

Documentation Scripts

Always a great overall with some good Policy information in it.

Citrix Policy Lockdown 1.0

Citrix Default Policies are Insecure
Citrix Default Policies are Insecure

Citrix Policies are not the coolest thing to mess with but they are very important and are very often overlooked from a security perspective.  I hope this quick blog will help you look at your policies differently and help you secure your deployment.  When I’m doing Citrix Security Assessments the weak policies are usually the second biggest finding (After Patching) because they usually are just defaults and or the filters and or their order make them weaker than most clients expect them to be with some of those factors.

In this article, I will go over the basics of the Citrix security policies, the scary ones you should worry about, how to check if you’re at risk and how to fix them up.  Many of these settings are enabled by default because most customers need these settings but if you look at them just one more time in most cases you should be able disable many of them.

Citrix Policy Big 4

  1. Copy\Paste
    1. Bi-directional
    2. Copy\Paste Write Allowed Formats – All
  2. Drive Mappings
    1. On by Default
      1. Major
        1. Client Fixed Drives
        2. Client Network Drives
        3. Client Removable Drives
      2. Minor
        1. Client Floppy Drives
        2. Client Optical Drives
      3. USB Mounts
        1. Disabled by Default
        2. Restrict the Devices
      4. Others
        1. Printer Mapping
        2. LPT Mapping
        3. COM Mapping
        4. Microphone Mapping
        5. Audio Mapping

Citrix Policy Security Severity Chart

Risk Setting Default Setting
High Copy\Paste Allowed
High Copy\Paste Write Allowed Formats Blank
High Client Fixed Drives Allowed
High Client Network Drives Allowed
High Client Removable Drives Allowed
High\Medium Client USB Mapping Prohibited
High\Medium Printer Mapping Allowed
Medium\Low Client Floppy Drives Allowed
Medium\Low Client Optical Drives Allowed
Medium\Low LPT Mapping Prohibited
Medium\Low COM Mapping Prohibited
Medium\Low Microphone Mapping Allowed
Low Audio Redirection Allowed

The severity of some of these items will vary based on the setting and if these items are in use or if they could be used in a way to harm your company.

Depending on if you used a template from Citrix for user experience you just have an environment that has been migrated\upgraded over and over you most likely could have a problem and not even know it.  From what I have seen at hundreds of deployments is that the Citrix deployment hosts the most critical items within most businesses internally and or externally.

We will dive into each of these briefly and then go into the extreme detail later which will be in the Citrix Hardening guide.

  1. Copy\Paste
    1. In some cases, it is actually needed but in most it can be disabled or tuned for directionality along with restricting different paste formats beyond just text.
    2. Client clipboard write allowed formats
      1. Blank by default which means screenshots can be easily exfiltrated out if your giving someone a desktop session or access to an application without execution being prevented from many windows subsystems that can take advantage of this.
      2. It is highly recommended to only allow CF_Text. If the Microsoft Suite must be used beyond just text then add CFX_OfficeDrawingShape as the other format.
  • Many of these other methods are ways that payloads can be sent to the server\desktop or data can be sent out beyond just text. Who would have guessed there were 23 things to Copy\Paste?
    1. CF_TEXT
    2. CF_BITMAP
    4. CF_SYLK
    5. CF_DIF
    6. CF_TIFF
    8. CF_DIB
    10. CF_PENDATA
    11. CF_RIFF
    12. CF_WAVE
    15. CF_HDROP
    16. CF_LOCALE
    17. CF_DIBV5
    19. CF_DSPTEXT
    23. CF_HTML
    25. CFX_OfficeDrawingShape
    26. CFX_BIFF8
  1. Drive Mappings
    1. This is the absolute best way for employees and or attackers to get things in and out of your environment. In most cases it isn’t needed but is never disabled.  I have seen clients where they actually need it to just map their Local Drive only and all the other mappings could be disabled.  Who has a floppy or optical drive anymore, can we at least turn those two off?
    2. Think about what data the user has access to on their local computers, in many cases you may or may not be able to control those endpoints in many service provider models to third party entities.
    3. Most users will have some mapped drives on the local computer that will be mapped by default and who knows if your security team wanted a Citrix session to bridge that gap from a network share to their endpoint.
      1. How many SMB shares have Everyone for Share permissions along with the actual File Permissions?
      2. You could use to help find them on your network, there are also more advanced ways but this is one of the easier tools to run. Make sure you let your security team know before you start blasting scans off so you don’t have to update your resume depending on your INFOSEC policies.
    4. What kind of data do you have, and what compliance body does it fall under? (HIPAA, PCI and many others)
      1. This can make drive mappings being enabled much more severe.
    5. USB Mounts
      1. The good thing is that by default this setting it to Prohibit these mappings.
      2. Most organizations have DLP (Data Loss Prevention\Protection) policies and a USB drive is in most cases prime candidate number 2 after email for data exfiltration.
      3. There are many ways that mapping USB devices can also introduce instability along with other possible attacks, so filtering devices if they must be enabled is your safest bet.
        1. If you are just doing voice Dictation with a Philips device, bar code scanners, credit card readers and many other must use cases you should just allow that specific device only.
      4. Other Items
        1. Printer Mapping
          1. This is enabled by default and in many cases, this is needed for Application X to work and for the user to do their job. If you have an application that doesn’t need to print then disable it or at least just limit it to just the applications that need it and exclude if from everything else.
        2. LPT Mapping
          1. Mapping these old school physical printer ports are enabled by default but I haven’t seen them actually used in a couple hundred deployments since most printers now are Network or USB only now. I have had great success disabling this in a lot of deployments and like always if you don’t need it disable it.
        3. COM Mapping
          1. This is disabled by default so usually I don’t find it enabled but I do see it every now and then for some medical devices and in manufacturing. If it needs to be enabled just filter it to the servers\desktops that need it.
        4. Microphone Mapping
          1. This is great for Video Conferencing along with Dictation but in many cases, it may not be needed and should be disabled. This may not seem very security related being able to record your voice in applications but it is a way that data can come in.  I have been working on some testing and will have more information later in the VDI Lockdown guides.
        5. Audio Mapping
          1. This also may not seem like it is very security related item too, but in many industries an audio stream can be very sensitive data. I have seen the medical, legal, banking and science\research industries use dictation, but they have some serious Patient and Intellectual Property information in them.    If someone can listen to the audio and or if you have mapped drives enabled they can pull the data out.  This is a stretch in many cases but we don’t like loose ends.
          2. If you don’t need sound I would recommend turning it off but if you’re doing a desktop experience it will be needed but I would just recommend thinking about what audio you may have that is confidential that you don’t want to get out.
  • Sometimes audio has to be mapped to hear error messages for basic application functionality.

What to do?

Secure it by Default!

Citrix Secure Policy Template
Citrix Secure Policy Template

In many cases when I’m doing security assessments I don’t just enable the “Security and Control” Policy Template and call it done\more better, because it could cause mayhem if people do have legitimate uses for some of these security controls.  Depending on your setup and how far along your deployment is, you may be able to apply this use this template as a baseline to help secure things when you start off.  Starting off your Citrix deployment off with this policy if you can and open it up per Application\User Group to open things up as needed.

Next Blog

I’m working on a couple other things that I will publish on my blog and within CUGC too.

  1. Citrix Policy Lockdown Examples and Guide
  2. Citrix Patching
  3. Citrix WEM and AppLocker Lockdown
  4. Citrix Antivirus
  5. VDI Lockdown Guide (Everything rolled into an updatable one stop shop)


Thanks for all the work that Carl Webster does on keeping up with his documentation scripts and policy lists and much more.

Policy Listings

Documentation Scripts

Always a great overall with some good Policy information in it.

Citrix XenDesktop, XenApp And VMware Horizon Security Blog

Disclaimer, I’m not a fancy writer with great English writing skills, I just figure it out and type stuff and try to tell it in a way that I hope people learn and little something laugh a bit (because it isn’t that serious).  I make up words and type with a southern drawl and I also have lots of Patrick’isms that I have used over the years speaking with thousands of people that have stuck (might have to make a short page on some of them to keep them organized).

I have had a great and blessed IT career over the past 18 years and I have worked my way up at so many levels that I know this is my time to give back what little I can.  I’m not an expert in really anything other than eating and a being a movie and music fan.  I have been Noob’ed and RTFM’ed with the best of them and I have learned a lot over the years.  I have also had great mentors at every IT job I had  I have worked at in a couple different roles listed below

  1. Customer Support Rep (People called me)
  2. Y2K Floppy Flinger (NT4, Novell, Exchange, Metaframe)
  3. Marine Corps Random awesomeness (Unix, Presentation Server, Exchange, Banyan Vines, 2000, 2003, Other Computer Nerdy Thingys)
  4. CHD Meridian (Security Nerd Turned Citrix Nerd (Because the Print Spoolers and the eBay servers were killing things and they needed help)
  5. LPS Integration (EUC Nerd to Architect to Director (Nerd and Deal Wrangler))
    1. Working at a Partner gave me a different perspective and also gave me the ability to work with over 500 clients in that 8+ years and see how other nerds did things. I got to directly work with people at LPS and at other clients that were smarter than me which pushed me to be “more better”.
    2. I got to participate in PTAB and PTEC and run around with some of the smartest Citrix and VMware nerds there are in the world, I got to meet lots of great speakers and build some great friendships.
  6. Patrick Coble Consulting (aka Contractor Scum hunting for work)
    1. I wanted to get back to my roots a bit and see if I could do something on my own at my own speed to try and to be a better dad and have a tempo I could control or at least try to.
  7. Creation (Changing gears for sure)
    1. Now that I’m out doing my own thing I have time to do some things. (or least I think I do) I have always wanted to do get back to my security roots but I never had the time before at LPS. I have seen the fundamental insecurity of VDI deployments for over 8 years (Not counting old school Ctirix and RDS deployments before then).  The problem is VDI security from all three major vendors Citrix, Microsoft and VMware (Workspot, I still love that Demo Coat Brad Peterson) is kinda ok, but the problem in almost all cases the VDI admin has a much different goal for survival in the IT Thunder Dome and Security isn’t on the side of the cage as normal battle weapon (I hope to be the guy throwing it in the cage).  The VDI admins survival depends on the system being up and not really secure beyond just saying “I have a lock sign in the URL bar so this thing is legit yo”.  I hope to write some blogs and maybe an Amazon Jiblet or two on things and trends I have seen and how to fix them.
    2. I have had a lot of great mentors over the years and I hope I’m trying to do this thing right, because I’m not expert but I changed my VDINinja handle to VDIHacker because that is my focus now. I hope to show the vulnerabilities and how to fix them, because I was way too fat and slow to be a Real Ninja.

I hope those couple items give you an idea of where I’m from and where I’m going (cotton eyed joe) to get a sense of things to come.  I hope I can pay homage to many of the greats in our IT world that are way more smarter than me and hopefully shine a light on the dark side of VDI to hopefully help some people along the way.

I hope I can get enough nerd cred and chances to present and give this new thing a shot.

Some of the topics I’m hoping to nerd out on in no particular order.


  1. VDI Security Mission
  2. Citrix Security Overview
  3. RDS Security Overview
  4. Horizon Security Overview
  5. SSL Everything.