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Tech Brief: Citrix uberAgent

  • Contributed By: Igor van der Burgh Special Thanks To: Steven Gallagher

Citrix uberAgent is an advanced software solution meticulously crafted for monitoring desktops, virtual desktop infrastructure (VDI), and server-based computing environments. It goes beyond basic system metrics and delivers detailed insights into application performance, user experience, and system health. With a focus on simplicity and efficiency, Citrix uberAgent is engineered to minimize performance impact on monitored systems while offering leading-edge capabilities for analyzing user experience and system performance.

The software provides in-depth visibility into network utilization at both the operating system and per-application levels, even for multiple installed browsers. Its key strength lies in offering granular data on user experience, application, operating system usage, and security metrics. This includes generating individual and customizable experience and risk scores, aiding in a holistic understanding of system performance and user experience.  

All in all, Citrix uberAgent stands out for its remarkable sophistication. It is an indispensable asset for businesses aiming to comprehensively grasp their system performance and user experience.

 

Note:

uberAgent User Experience Monitoring (UXM) and Endpoint Security Analytics (ESA) are now components of Citrix Platform Licensing and Citrix observability (Analytics) Kickstart offerings.

 

Citrix uberAgent key functionalities and capabilities

  • Application Performance Monitoring: Citrix uberAgent tracks application startup times, hang detection, and resource usage, providing insights into how applications behave and perform in real-world scenarios.
  • User Experience Score: At its core, Citrix uberAgent offers advanced user experience monitoring, helping IT departments identify and resolve issues related to logon times, session performance, and overall user satisfaction. This is crucial in environments where user productivity directly impacts business outcomes.
  • Endpoint Security Analytics (ESA): With the ESA feature, Citrix uberAgent aids in identifying potential security threats by monitoring process creations, network connections, and other events that could indicate malicious activity. This functionality enriches security incident and event management (SIEM) systems with valuable context, enhancing organizational security posture.
  • Network and Browser Performance: Citrix uberAgent provides detailed insights into network connection quality and browser performance, including HTTP request timings and web app usage. This enables IT to optimize network settings and web applications for better performance.
  • Resource Utilization: It tracks CPU, memory, disk, and network usage by applications and users, helping identify resource bottlenecks and optimize capacity planning.

 

Conceptual Architecture

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User Experience Monitoring (UXM)

Experience score is a standout feature of Citrix uberAgent that focuses on various aspects of the user experience, such as application responsiveness, logon duration, and session reliability. This module lets organizations pinpoint end-user satisfaction and productivity issues, offering actionable insights to improve application delivery and performance. UXM is especially valuable in complex and distributed IT environments where identifying the root cause of performance issues can be challenging.

The experience score dashboard serves as the gateway to the Citrix uberAgent UXM Splunk app. It visually represents the experience scores for the entire estate, segregating the data by category and component. The dashboard highlights components that could cause issues. The dashboard also offers quick access to essential KPIs such as logon duration, application responsiveness, and application errors. This feature empowers users to identify the origins of problems and take corrective measures promptly.

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Score Calculation

The scores are calculated regularly, assessing them against low and high severity thresholds with corresponding weights. The final score is derived by subtracting the product of threshold counters and their weights from 10. Higher weights correspond to lower scores.

The score's default calculation settings have been carefully selected and tuned. They should work well in most environments. Please check our documentation if you want to optimize the calculation for your organization’s requirements.

 

User Logon Duration

Citrix uberAgent collects logon details like profile load time, Group Policy processing time, and process performance.

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Application Network Monitoring

Citrix uberAgent has a network monitoring feature that diligently monitors outgoing network connections. This feature associates each network connection with the respective application handling it and generates important metrics such as latency, packet loss, data volume, process, host target, and user.

In addition to its extensive capabilities, Citrix uberAgent's per-application network monitoring records failed connections that firewalls may have blocked, thus providing an additional layer of security. However, it is essential to note that Citrix uberAgent's per-application network monitoring feature does not inspect packets or breach TLS or other types of encryptions.

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Web App Monitoring

Citrix uberAgent provides web application monitoring to track page loads and inter-page communication on all major browsers for every website. The monitoring system collects essential data for every event, including the user, duration, and HTTP status code. The system's default configuration does not send complete URLs to the backend. Instead, the events are summarized based on the web server, the host displayed in the address bar. However, the complete URL monitoring feature can also be enabled for specific domains or sites of interest.

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Citrix NetScaler (ADC) Monitoring

Citrix uberAgent collects appliance and gateway performance, utilization, and inventory data from Citrix NetScaler Application Delivery Controllers for monitoring purposes.

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Citrix Virtual Apps and Desktops site monitoring (CVAD and DaaS)

Citrix uberAgent detects whether it runs on a Citrix Delivery Controller (DDC) or a Citrix Virtual Desktop Agent (VDA). On DDCs, Citrix uberAgent automatically activates additional metrics like machine registration status, license usage, and published application inventory.

Citrix site monitoring collects a rich set of metrics about many aspects of Citrix Virtual Apps and Desktops:

  • Published applications
  • Databases
  • Desktops
  • Desktop groups
  • Hypervisors
  • Licenses
  • Machines
  • Machine Catalogs

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Machine Metrics

Citrix uberAgent collects information about the machine, such as the  CPU, GPU, disk IO, memory usage, and overall machine inventory.

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Endpoint Security Analytics (ESA)

ESA extends Citrix uberAgent's capabilities into the security domain, providing detailed analytics on endpoint security events. This includes monitoring and analyzing process start events, DNS queries, and network connections. ESA is designed to complement existing EDR solutions like Defender. With ESA, IT security teams can quickly identify suspicious activities and potential breaches, significantly reducing the time to respond to security incidents.

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Security & Compliance Inventory

The Security & Compliance Inventory (SCI) is a testing and rating framework that checks the attack surface of your operating systems and applications. The test results are used to calculate security scores pinpointing configuration and security hardening weaknesses.

uberAgent ESA comes with a comprehensive suite of SCI tests that cover a broad range of attack scenarios, including, but not limited to, the following.

  • Man-in-the-Middle Attacks
  • PowerShell Abuse
  • Lateral Movement
  • Passwordless Login

 

Threat Detection Events

This dashboard provides an overview of all the processes identified as exhibiting risky behavior. The data presented is enriched with information from the MITRE ATT&CK® framework, widely recognized as a comprehensive knowledge base of adversary tactics, techniques, and procedures. The dashboard provides detailed insights into the processes that exhibit suspicious activity, allowing you to take quick and appropriate action to safeguard your system from potential threats.

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DNS Exfiltration & Tunneling

This dashboard offers a comprehensive range of data and metrics related to DNS exfiltration and tunneling activities on endpoints. By analyzing this data, users can gain insights into the nature and scope of these activities, including the types of endpoints targeted, the frequency and volume of exfiltration and tunneling events, and the methods used to carry out these activities. In addition, the dashboard can provide information on potential vulnerabilities that may be exploited and recommendations for enhancing endpoint security and minimizing the risk of data loss or theft.

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