As the head of Citrix’s networking products, Phil Caleno has a chance to get a deep look into networks and understand the type of threats customers are facing.
“Citrix, in general, is a key part of many organisations’ security control. A very large use-case is taking the applications and the data and securing them inside the data centre. This was historically private but is increasingly public,” Caleno says.
This, according to Caleno, offers heightened security as access to corporate systems and data is controlled through secure tunnels and systems developed by Citrix. This extends to mobile devices where applications can be deployed using secure, containerised and sandboxed apps.
In Caleno’s view, the feature that sets Citrix apart from other companies, when it comes to security is that they offer a complete, end-to-end solution. It’s that “secret sauce” that sets them apart over other solutions that might address one link in the application delivery and security chain but require their own integration.
“Having the support for any device, securing the tunnel from where they are to where the applications are and then the control inside the data centre to render the application and build the security controls around the application so that a company is not trying to integrate three or four different parts themselves. They can get a solution much quicker”.
During the opening keynote at this year’s Citrix Mobility Conference, Peter Brockhoff, the Citrix Area Vice President for Australia and New Zealand, noted research from IDG saying security will be a top three business priority for 70% of businesses by 2017. Those weren’t technical priorities but business priorities.
Traditionally, customers have seen NetScaler as a secure access tool according to Caleno. But the changing threat landscape and rapidly moving business priorities offers new opportunities.
“It [NetSCaler] can be used as a more holistic application delivery controller. It is an opportunity to wrap other workloads, that traditionally neighbouring around NetScaler, to consolidate those in”.
That covers reverse proxying, identity management and some web application firewall functions.
When it comes to mitigating the damage after a breach, Caleno says one of the challenges is that his team is engaged after the fact. However, that is changing.
“People are having to revisit their security policy. They believe the firewall vendors over the last few years who have been saying by making sure your firewalls are up to date and your policies are up to date and you have good processes… are able to stop every attack. But their expectations stopped where firewalls were five to ten years ago around connection management”.
Caleno says this leaves a “gaping, great big hole”.
“If it’s web or secure web let it [potentially malicious traffic] go through”.
This is where newer systems show their value in Caleno’s eyes. While next generation firewalls do a solid job when it comes to detecting and blocking known attack vectors, business aware systems – that know the difference between a correctly formed and contextually valid HTTP request and a correctly formed but contextually invalid request that is not congruent with business processes and rules – are becoming increasingly important.
This is the difference between a next generation firewall and a business-aware web application firewall can do – and this is where Caleno sees Citrix’s advantage and they can track everything that is happening from the application, running in a data centre, to the secure end-point device.
“It’s about what fits into the valid business rules and what looks like a valid HTTP request,” he says.
Caleno told us Citrix’s CloudBridge solution can also secure data exchange between different infrastructure components. In today’s cloud-enabled enterprise, it’s possible that compute, applications, storage and other services may be separated from each other. Hence, there’s a need, in company security policies, to reconsider how data is secured between components that historically resided in the one device or data centre.