Citrix Session Recording: How to save time troubleshooting and increase security

Citrix Session Recording: How to save time troubleshooting and increase security

Citrix Session Recording is not new technology.  However, it is extremely under utilized and has had some recent improvements that should not be overlooked.  If you are not familiar with Session Recording it allows the recording of a users’s virtuall app or desktops session to be reviewed later by administrators.  This recording can be used for a multitude of reasons such as troubleshooting user issues, ensuring security is being maintained or documenting a security issue, or providing documentation to protect your company and employees when finger pointing happens.  We will explore some of the new features and how Session Recording can help your organization.

As mentioned previously, Session Recording allows you to record user activity while they are connected to a Citrix Virtual App or Desktop (CVAD) and retain that recording for future access.  It should be noted that Session Recording is not directly part of CVAD and therefore does require additional infrastrucutre such as the Session Recording agent, server, policy console and player for viewing recordings.

Although storage space for the recordings is required, the recordings are highly optimized and utilize a similar technology to Citrix HDX thereby reducing the recording size for a user’s session from Gigabytes of video to only Megabytes of HDX like instructions that are used to create the video.

Session Recording can be configured to record the entire session of users based on their usernames, groups they are a member of, or where they are connecting from (remove vs internal access).  Recording sessions can also be triggered based off event such as when a user launches a specific application or performs a specific task rather than recording the duration of a user’s session.  The recordings and timestamps of specific events that occur in the session and be tagged during the recording process making finding those specific events easier for admins.

This ability to record sessions either in their entirety or when a specific event occurs can increase an organizations security posture by being able to document exaclty what happened and when as well as decrease troubleshooting time.  

Lets look at a example.  Lets say we have a bank teller named Jane that is doing about her normal daily routine of making deposits and cashing checks for customers.  Bob, a customer comes in and wants to deposit a check for $5,000.00.  Since Jane is using a Citrix virtual desktop, when she launches her teller application, session recording is automatically started and her actions are recorded.  Jane processes the deposit for Bob and he leaves.  Later Bob comes back in the bank and is complaining that the $5,000.00 deposit never made it to his account.  With the help of session recording it is easy for an administrator to go back and look at the recording from when Bob originally made the deposit and notice that when Jane typed in the account number for Bob’s account she accidentally transposed two numbers and deposited the $5000.00 into someone else’s account.  Session Recording makes it quick and easy to determine what happened and decide what needs to be done to correct the issue.  If the error was later determined to be malicious then the bank has video proof of what information was entered where and when that can serve as documentation.

The same configuration could be done for a multitude of different events or triggers that an organization feels are important to be able to monitor whether that be by recording the entire session of a user or just recording specific actions and events.

For administrators that are trying to troubleshoot an issue, Session Recording can be invaluable.  Similar to taking your car to the mechanic and the problem disappears the minute you pull into the shop, we have all experienced the issues that users report that can be reproduced.  With Session Recording the admin could configure a policy to record a user’s session anytime they are using the application that they experience the problem in or the entire session.  Next time the user calls to report the problem the administrator can go back and view the recording and see the issue first hand, rather than having to try to reproduce the issue or rely strictly on the user’s description of what happened.  Using Session Recording in this manner alone, can greatly reduce the time required to resolved tickets and make your IT staff more efficient, and therefore your end users happier.

Below is a short video showing Session Recording in action.

Session Recording comes included with Citrix Virtual Apps Premium and Citrix Virtual Apps & Desktops Premium.   The implementation of Citrix Session Recording can provide insight into your user’s session while increasing your security posture and making troubleshooting easier for your organization.