AccessStick: delivering access on the move

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For many organisations the transition to a Citrix “thin client” architecture should herald the beginning of an easier to manage, secure and more cost effective corporate infrastructure. Indeed this might be so, but having personally seen the problems that a poorly implemented Citrix solution can bring, I for one would always insist that the infrastructure is suitably specified and maintained. The good news is that once implemented properly it can provide an excellent platform for business solutions.

But what about supporting the ever increasing number of remote users that will need access to the system from homes, remote work places and the ubiquitous hotel room?

Traditionally this connectivity would be implemented using some form of SSL VPN connection that enables a secure link across the internet to the host server. Whilst this sounds fine in principle, anyone that has tried to connect using a locked down PC on someone else’s site soon realises it can’t be done.

Like many other SSL VPN solutions the Citrix Gateway solution needs to download some components locally in order to work. If you don’t have local admin rights these can’t be installed and you are stopped at the first hurdle.

With the ever increasing number of, quite rightly, secured endpoints the chances of finding a suitable “unlocked” PC, with local admin rights available when working away from base are getting smaller and smaller, which can be very frustrating.

Even if you do manage to find a suitable PC there is a very real risk that at the end of the session you will leave a trail of temporary files and cookies in the system cache ready for the next person to discover and potentially undermine your personal or corporate security.

To the rescue we have a product from Accario called AccessStick DayXtender. Users that need remote access to a Citrix system are issued with an AccessStick USB device that plugs into the remote PC and enables a secure, footprint-less way of networking back to the Citrix server.

AccessStick comes with an integral biometric fingerprint reader which is swiped by the user as part of the authentication process. If the fingerprint matches then the user is taken straight to the Citrix Access Gateway login page. According to Accario this biometric device has been proven to last at least 1 million swipes and is of a higher specification than found on many laptops so you are more likely to wear your finger out than see problems with the reader!

The device itself has a software virtualisation layer that intercepts normal traffic between software applications and the local PC files and registry which is diverted, as appropriate, to the AccessStick device. That way no files, cookies or other bits of data are downloaded to the client PC. When the user ends their session and removes the USB device there are no files left that could become a potential security problem.

That said, the virtualisation technology on the device also allows control of locally installed applications, which may be useful. Applications such as Citrix GotoMeeting or GotoMyPC can also be stored on the AccessStick device.

In addition to the biometric and security features AccessStick also comes with a local secure storage area for user data, which may be useful if users need to work remotely all of a sudden following illness or maybe as a disaster contingency plan.

If you have a Citrix environment that needs to support remote users then it would be a good idea to have a long hard look at the Accario AccessStick. It could be just what you are looking for and become an all-in-one replacement for those insecure USB devices used by remote workers.

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