Installing or Renewing a 2048 bit SSL Certificate on Citrix Access Essentials/Xenapp Fundamentals

I had to renew a 2048 bit Godaddy SSL certificate on a Citrix Access Essentials server today. This article on the Citrix knowledgebase explains how to install the certificate in Quick Start, but is a bit light on detail for the IIS part so I thought I would document it here.

Firstly you need to generate a certificate request or renewal request on the Citrix Access Essentials or Xenapp Fundamentals external website in IIS manager. Right click the website and choose ‘properties’, then click on the  ‘Directory Security’ tab. In the ‘Secure Communications’ section click on the ‘Server Certificate’ button, and the server certificate wizard will start. Click Next, and the following screen will appear:

Creating the renewal or certificate request

In this case I was renewing the existing 2048 bit certificate, so selected ‘renew the current certificate’ and clicked next. On the next screen choose ‘prepare the request now but send it later:

Preparing the request

Finish the wizard, and save the request for processing with your SSL provider. In this case the provider is Godaddy, but the process will be similar for other providers. Log into Godaddy, select the certificate you want to renew (assuming you have already purchased the renewal credit), and choose ‘Request Certificate’ .

Requesting a new certificate using Godaddy


On the next screen select ‘Third Party or Dedicated Server, and then paste the contents of the certificate request that you generated in IIS into the CSR field as shown:

Processing the CSR with Godaddy

Submit the request and then wait for Godaddy to process it, completing any necessary domain control, or other validation processes that may be required. Once the certificate processing is complete, download your new certificate from Godaddy. If this is the first time you have installed a Godaddy certificate on the server you will also need to install intermediate certificates that come in the zip file on your server. Further documentation on this can be found on the Godaddy website here.

Next install the new certificate using IIS manager. Again, right click the Citrix external website and choose ‘Properties’, then click on the ‘Directory Security’ tab. In the ‘Secure Communications’ section click on the ‘Server Certificate’.  In the wizard choose ‘process the pending request and install the certificate’.

Processing the pending certificate request in IIS

Browse to the new certificate .crt file you downloaded from Godaddy and click next. You may need to select ‘All files’ to view this file.  

Now the next screen can cause a bit of a gotcha. By default the wizard wants to choose standard SSL port 443 to install this certificate on. If you select this port it will conflict with Citrix and cause an error message when accessing the website after installing the certificate. Make sure you select a different port in the wizard, such as 444 to prevent a conflict with Citrix Access Essenstials, then click ‘Next’.

Select an SSL port other than 443, such as 444 in the wizard to prevent a conflict with Citrix

Failure to change the port will result in the error ‘Bad Gateway! The proxy server received an invalid response from the upstream server. Error 502’, which can be seen below:

Error message when installing new SSL certificate on Citrix Access Essentials/Xenapp Fundamentals Bad Gateway error 502

Review the final screen, and complete the wizard. Finally, run up the Citrix quick start tool and choose ‘Manage External Access’, under the ‘External Access’ section. From here you can choose the new certificate to use with Citrix Access Essentials. These steps are documented in the Citrix document. After that you’re done!

Using and verifying HTTP compression on aspx pages in IIS 6

Yesterday I was examining some performance issues with an in house web application over our wide area network. While a developer looked at the code I thought I would see what could be done with http compression. This particular application is hosted on IIS 6 which is unfortunate as there some improvements with http compression in IIS 7. Anyway to enable http compression for aspx or other associated web pages in IIS6 you need to do the following. Firstly enable http compression on the server by right clicking on the ‘Web Sites’ folder in IIS Manager and choosing properties:

Accessing web sites properties

Next, click on the ‘Service’ Tab and check the ‘compress application files’ and ‘compress static files’ tick boxes and then choose a limit for temporary files. Then click OK

Next, download and install the IIS 6 resource kit tools from Microsoft which can be found here. Once the tools are installed open ‘Metabase Explorer’ and navigate to LM, W3SVC, Filters, Compression, deflate. Add the file extensions you wish to compress to HcScriptFileExtensions, in this case aspx, axd, asmx and css. Then change the HcDynamicCompressionLevel to a value between 1 and 10, 1 for low compression with low CPU utilisation, and 10 for high compression with high CPU utilisation. Setting this to a high value such as 9 may not necessarily give that much higher compression than choosing 5, so be careful to choose a value which is a good balance between compression and performance. Then apply identical settings for HcScriptFileExtensions and HcDynamicCompressionLevel  under LM, W3SVC, Filters, Compression, gzip

Modifying HcScriptFileExtensions and HcDynamicCompressionLevel in Metabase Explorer

 Save the configuration in IIS manager and then perform an iisreset from the command prompt.

You can verify the amount of compression you are are getting using a tool such as Fiddler or alternatively browser plugin Httpwatch.

To do this using Fiddler, download and install Fiddler and then run the program. Then access the website as normal, accessing some of the pages that you are attempting to compress. Once you have some entries in the ‘Web Sessions’ pane, click on the page you want to view the compression stats for in the list. The number in the ‘body’ column is the compressed size. In the bottom right section of Fiddler, click on ‘Transformer’ and you will see the compression type:

View compression status in Fiddler

View compression status in Fiddler

You will notice the yellow bar above the ‘transformer’ tab which says ‘Response is encoded and may need to be decoded before inspection, click here to transform’. Click on the yellow bar:

View original entity size before compression status in Fiddler

On this screen examine the ‘Entity Size’ which will be the original size of the page before compression. You can compare this to the body column to see the amount that the page has been compressed, in this case around a 27% saving on bandwidth.

Allow telnet, SSH, or HTTPS remote management on a Cisco 800 series using a Zone Based Firewall

I have recently installed some Cisco 877 routers at some of our branch offices, and wanted to allow remote management of these devices from the LAN at our central location over the VPN. With the Zone based firewall enabled there is no access allowed to the ‘Self’ zone from remote locations by default, as you would expect. This process is pretty straightforward when you are using Cisco PIX or ASA firewalls as you can use the management-access inside command, and then easily define which subnets you want to be able to access which remote management tools. There is no equivalent command when using an IOS router, so you need to configure the appropriate access list, class map, and policy map

In this example the site to site VPN is already configured as is the zone based firewall which was configured by SDM. The following subnets are defined for the LANs at each location: – This is the head office LAN subnet which I want to allow access to the remote router over the VPN tunnel – This is the branch office LAN subnet which is attached to the Cisco 877

The ip address of the 877 router at the branch office is:

Firstly, create an access list to define which services you want to allow access to, from the head office subnet:

router(config)# ip access-list extended remote-manage

router(config-ext-nacl)# permit tcp host eq 22

This allows SSH access from the subnet to the router

router(config-ext-nacl)# permit tcp host eq telnet

This allows telnet access from the subnet to the router

router(config-ext-nacl)# permit tcp host eq 443

This allows HTTPS access from the subnet to the router

Next, create the following class maps:

router(config)# class-map type inspect match-any remote-manage

router(config-cmap)# match access-group name remote-manage

router(config)# class-map type inspect match-any router-access

router(config-cmap)# match class-map remote-manage

Finally, add this policy map

router(config)# policy-map type inspect sdm-permit

router(config-pmap)#class type inspect router-access

router(config-pmap-c)# inspect

You should now be able to telnet, SSH and use SDM to access the router from the head office subnet. If you need to allow any other subnets or hosts to access the router remotely simply add them to the access-list you created earlier. It could be that you want to allow SSH access to the external Internet facing IP of the router which you could do by adding the following (where X.X.X.X is the external IP of the router):

router(config)# ip access-list extended remote-manage

router(config-ext-nacl)# permit tcp any host X.X.X.X eq 22

This would allow any Internet host to access the external IP of the router using SSH, although it would be preferable to lock this down to specific IP addresses or subnets that you already own.