Proof of Concept: Secure Access to SaaS Apps with Microsoft Azure SSO and Citrix Access Control
Author: Daniel Feller
Special Thanks: Krishna Kumar
As users access confidential content within SaaS applications, organizations must be able to simplify user login operations while still enforcing authentication standards. Organizations must be able to secure SaaS applications even though it exists beyond the confines of the data center. Citrix Workspace provides organizations with enhanced security controls for SaaS applications.
In this scenario, a user authenticates to Citrix Workspace using Active Directory as the primary user directory and launches an Azure-managed SaaS app.
If the Citrix Access Control Service is assigned to the Citrix subscription, enhanced security policies, ranging from applying screen-based watermarks, restricting printing/downloading actions, screen grabbing restrictions, keyboard obfuscation, and protecting users from untrustworthy links are applied on top of the SaaS applications.
The following animation shows a user accessing a SaaS app with Azure-provided SSO and secured with Citrix Access Control.
This demonstration shows an IdP-initiated SSO flow where the user launches the application from within Citrix Workspace. This PoC guide also supports a SP-initiated SSO flow where the user tries to access the SaaS app directly from their preferred browser.
- Azure is already configured to provide SSO to a SaaS app
- Users can successfully sign into the Azure app portal and launch the SaaS app
This proof of concept guide demonstrates how to:
- Setup Citrix Workspace
- Integrate a primary user directory
- Incorporate Single Sign-On for SaaS applications
- Define website filtering policies
- Validate the configuration
Setup Citrix Workspace
The initial steps for setting up the environment is to get Citrix Workspace prepared for the organization, which includes
- Setting up the Workspace URL
- Enabling the appropriate services
Set Workspace URL
- Connect to Citrix Cloud and log in as your administrator account
- Within Citrix Workspace, access Workspace Configuration from the upper-left menu
- From the Access tab, enter a unique URL for the organization and select Enabled
From the Service Integration tab, enable the following services to support the secure access to SaaS apps use case
- Secure Browser
Citrix Workspace takes a few moments to update services and URL settings. From a browser, verify the custom Workspace URL is active. However, logon is not available until a primary user directory gets defined and configured.
Integrate a Primary User Directory
Before users can authenticate to Workspace, a primary user directory must be configured. The primary user directory is the only identity the user requires as all requests for apps within Workspace utilizes single sign-on to secondary identities.
An organization can use any one of the following primary user directories
- Active Directory: To enable Active Directory authentication, a cloud connector must be deployed within the same data center as an Active Directory domain controller by following the Cloud Connector Installation guide.
- Active Directory with Time-Based One Time Password: Active Directory-based authentication can also include multifactor authentication with a Time-based One Time Password (TOTP). This guide details the required steps to enable this authentication option.
- Azure Active Directory: Users can authenticate to Citrix Workspace with an Azure Active Directory identity. This guide provides details on configuring this option.
- Citrix Gateway: Organizations can utilize an on-premises Citrix Gateway to act as an identity provider for Citrix Workspace. This guide provides details on the integration.
- Okta: Organizations can use Okta as the primary user directory for Citrix Workspace. This guide provides instructions for configuring this option.
Create SaaS App
To successfully create the SaaS with Citrix Workspace, the administrator needs to do the following
- Configure SaaS App
- Authorize SaaS App
Configure SaaS App
With the SaaS app configured within Azure, the SaaS app can get configured within Citrix Workspace.
- Within Azure, select Azure Active Directory
- Select Enterprise Applications
- Within the list, select the SaaS app, which brings up the application overview
- Select Properties
- Copy the User Access URL and remember for later use
- Within Citrix Cloud, select Manage from the Gateway tile.
- Select Add a Web/SaaS app
- In the Choose a template wizard, find the correct template. In this example, select Humanity
- Select Next
- In the App details screen, replace the URL with the User Access URL copied from Azure.
- At the end of the URL, add the following: &whr=federated_domain replacing federated_domain with the domain associated with the user’s identity (information after the @ sign in the user’s email). The federated domain entry informs Azure to redirect to the correct federated domain configuration. The federated domain information gets configured within Azure in an upcoming section.
- Enhanced security policies use the related domains field to determine which URLs to secure. One related domain is automatically added based on the default URL. Add an additional domain for the actual URL for the SaaS app in addition to the one automatically created.
- Select Next
- In the Enhanced Security window, select the appropriate security policies for the environment
- In the Single Sign-On window, set Assertion URL to be
- Set Audience to be urn:federation:MicrosoftOnline
- Set the Name ID Format=Persistent and Name ID=Active Directory GUID
- Select the box labeled Launch the app using the specified URL (SP Initiated). Once authenticated, the user automatically gets redirected to the SaaS app instead of the Azure App Portal.
- Under Advanced attributes, add Attribute Name=IDPEmail, Attribute Format=Unspecified, and Attribute Value=Email
- Note:** Only needed to be done for first app. Select **Download to capture the CRT-based certificate.
- Note:** Only needed to be done for first app. Next to the **Login URL, select the Copy button to capture the Login URL. This URL gets used later.
- Note:** Only needed to be done for first app. Select the **SAML Metadata link
- Within the SAML Metadata file, look for EntityID. Copy the entire URL and store for later use. Once captured, the SAML Metadata file can be closed.
- Select Save
- Select Finish to complete the configuration of the SaaS app.
Authorize SaaS App
- Within Citrix Cloud, select Library from the menu
- Find the SaaS app and select Manage Subscribers
- Add the appropriate users/groups who are authorized to launch the app
Federate Azure Authentication to Citrix Workspace
To successfully federate the SaaS app with Citrix Workspace, the administrator needs to do the following
- Verify Authentication Domain
- Configure Domain Federation
Verify Authentication Domain
To federate authentication to Citrix Workspace, Azure must verify the fully qualified domain name. Within the Azure Portal, do the following:
- Access Azure Active Directory
- Select Custom domain names in the navigation window
- Select Add custom domain
- Enter the fully qualified domain name
- Select Add domain
- Azure provides records to incorporate into your domain name registrar. Once done, select Verify.
- Once complete, the domain includes a verified mark
Configure Domain Federation
The final configuration is to have Azure use Citrix Workspace as the federated authority for the verified domain. Configuring federation must be done with PowerShell.
- Launch PowerShell
- Add the appropriate modules with the following commands
Install-Module AzureAD -Force Import-Module AzureAD -Force Install-Module MSOnline -Force Import-module MSOnline -Force
- Connect to Microsoft Online via PowerShell and authenticate
- Verify the domain is currently set to Managed within Azure by running the following PowerShell command
- Use the following code in a PowerShell script to make this domain Federated by changing the variables to align with your environment
$dom = "workspaces.wwco.net" # The fully qualified domain name verified within Azure $fedBrandName = "CitrixWorkspaceSAMLIdP" # A name to help remember the configuration purpose $IssuerUri = "https://citrix.com/fdafdjk4" # The entityID taken from the Citrix Worksapce SAML Metadata file $logoffuri = "https://app.netscalergateway.net/cgi/logout" # Standard entry for all. Do not change $uri = "https://app.netscalergateway.net/ngs/dhhn4j3mf1kc/saml/login?APPID=8dd87428-460b-4358-a3c2-609451e8f5be" # The Login URL from the Citrix Workspace SaaS app configuration $cert = New-Object System.Security.Cryptography.X509Certificates.X509Certificate2("e:\CitrixCloud.crt") # Path to the downloaded certificate file from Citrix Workspace $certData = [system.convert]::tobase64string($cert.rawdata) Set-MsolDomainAuthentication ` -DomainName $dom ` –federationBrandName $fedBrandName ` -Authentication Federated ` -PassiveLogOnUri $uri ` -LogOffUri $logoffuri ` -SigningCertificate $certData ` -IssuerUri $IssuerUri ` -PreferredAuthenticationProtocol SAMLP
- Verify the domain is currently set to Federated within Azure by running the following PowerShell command
- Verify the federation settings in Azure by running the following PowerShell command
Get-MsolDomainFederationSettings -DomainName $dom
**Note: If the federation settings need to be removed, run the following PowerShell command
Set-MsolDomainAuthentication -DomainName $dom -Authentication Managed
- Log into to Citrix Workspace as a user
- Select the SaaS application
- Observe the URL to see it briefly redirect through Azure
- The SaaS portal successfully launches
- Launch a browser
- Go to the company-defined URL for the SaaS application
- The browser redirects to Okta then to Citrix Workspace for authentication
- Once the user authenticates with the primary user directory, the SaaS app launches with Okta providing single sign-on
Define website filtering policies
Citrix Access Control service provides website filtering within SaaS and Web apps to help protect the user from phishing attacks. The following shows how to set up website filtering policies.
- From Citrix Cloud, Manage within the Access Control tile
- If this guide was followed, the Set up end user authentication step and the Configure end user access to SaaS, web and virtual applciations steps are complete. Select Configure Content Access
- Select Edit
- Enable the Filter website categories option
- Within the Blocked categories box, select Add
- Select the categories to block users from accessing
- When all applicable categories are selected, select Add
- Do the same for allowed categories
- Do the same for redirected categories. These categories redirect to a Secure Browser instance
- If needed, admins can filter denied, allowed, and redirected actions for specific URLs following the same process that was used for defining categories. Website URLs take precedence over categories.
Validate the Configuration
- Log into to Citrix Workspace as a user
- Select the SaaS app. If enhanced security is disabled, the app launches within the local browser, otherwise the embedded browser is used
- The user automatically signs on to the app
- The appropriate enhanced security policies are applied
- If configured, select a URL within the SaaS app that is in the blocked, allowed, and redirected categories
- If configured, select a URL within the SaaS app that is in the blocked, allowed, and redirected URLs
- The SaaS App successfully launches
- Launch a browser
- Go to the SaaS app website and Sign In. If there is an option to do SSO, select the option.
- The browser redirects the browser to Citrix Workspace for authentication
- Enter the user name.
- Once the user authenticates with the primary user directory, the SaaS app launches in the local browser if enhanced security is disabled. If enhanced security is enabled, a Secure Browser instance launches the SaaS app.
Stay Signed In
In the default configuration, Azure Active Directory displays a dialog box during the logon process allowing the users to remain signed in.
This is an Azure setting that can be easily changed by doing the following:
- Within Azure, select Azure Active Directory
- Select Company Branding
- Select the enabled Locale
- In the Edit company branding pane, select No in the Show option to remain signed in
- Select Save
User Account Does Not Exist in the Directory
When trying to launch the SaaS app, the user might receive the following error: The user account “account name” does not exist in the “GUID” directory.
The following are suggestions on how to solve this issue:
- Verify the user is authorized to use the SaaS app within Azure Active Directory
- Verify the identified email address within the error matches between the primary user directory, Azure Active Directory and the SaaS app.
Federation Realm Object
During validation, a user might receive the following error:
This is often caused by the domain not being verified or properly federated. Review the following sections of the PoC guide:
Enhanced Security Policies Failing
Users might experience the enhanced security policies (watermark, printing, or clipboard access) fail. Typically, this happens because the SaaS application uses multiple domain names. Within the application configuration settings for the SaaS app, there was an entry for Related Domains.
The enhanced security policies are applied onto to those related domains. To identify missing domain names, an administrator can access the SaaS app with a local browser and do the following:
- Navigate to the section of the app where the policies fail
- In Google Chrome and Microsoft Edge (Chromium version), select the three dots in the upper right side of the browser to show a menu screen.
- Select More Tools.
- Select Developer Tools
- Within the developer tools, select Sources. This provides a list of access domain names for that section of the application. To enable the enhanced security policies for this portion of the app, those domain names must be entered into the related domains field within the app configuration. Related domains are added like the following