Are Citrix And VPN The Same? Here’s What You Need to Know

Flexibility and business continuity. Security and backups. Encryption and control. These are some of the top reasons why firms have opted for VPNs.  

Virtual Private Network (VPN) is a technology that gives users secure and remote access to a private corporate network. Simply, with VPN, the users can access the shared resources and device by establishing a secure connection on their device. In contrast, Citrix is the VDI product that stands for virtual desktop infrastructure, delivering virtual desktops to users with dedicated resources on their devices.  

A lot of companies have incorporated VPNs into the business scene for a few years, but these days, Citrix is becoming a popular infrastructure for delivering secure remote access. Many businesses report confusion in terms or features of the two.

So, are they same? 

Is Citrix a VPN? 

No, VPN and Citrix as not the same. No matter how reputable a VPN service is,  VPN simply can’t ensure 100% security. The reason behind this is it gives complete access to the network once the user enters the VPN. Therefore, it is prone to spoofing data by cyberhackers making it difficult to track the access 24/7. VPNs are unsuitable for firms where different departments have sensitive data, as internal communication encryption is not available.   

Want a Better Security tool than VPN!
Try Managed Citrix Services Today!

Thankfully, Citrix as a virtual desktop infrastructure has stronger security along with frictionless user experience. Plus, with unlimited data transmission, Citrix becomes a highly secure tunnel to share the data through an encrypted channel. In contrast, VPN compromises your device data by enabling you to transmit data by establishing the connection.    

Let’s understand the differences between Citrix and VPN to know which is the more effective infrastructure for a globally distributed workforce 

Recommended Reading: What Are Citrix Hosted Desktops? Why Should You Use These?

Is VPN as secure as Citrix?

Generally, VPN is a reliable network to protect sensitive data when employees work on public networks. VPN clients develop encrypted connections on managed devices while securing users’ personal data. However, VPN can’t ensure proper data security when users add a geo-spoofing feature to access the network. By means of Geo-spoofing, a user hides their actual location and adds a different location so that VPN would consider it safe traffic.   

Here’s what VPN isn’t:

VPN ensures that hackers do not track online activity when users work from remote locations. Its primary objective is to protect online activity from snoopers who look for an opportunity to steal sensitive data. So, when it comes to securing private data,  VPNs can’t cover it for you.   


Virtual Private Network is a traditional model that gives full access to users. Meanwhile, their security is limited to remote access only. The risk of security breaches being magnified, users fail to secure on-premise VPNs, thus rendering data vulnerable.   

Recommended Reading: VPN vs. RDS vs. VDI – Choosing the Best Remote Solution 

Employees can no longer rely on unprotected endpoints or IT provisioned PCs. Therefore, it’s time to move to cloud-based apps accessible from any location, via any network. That’s when Citrix comes into play, a virtual workspace on the Citrix platform brings more robust security for remote working.  

It’s not hard to replace VPNs with managed Citrix VDI. Knowing how our hosted virtual desktops are powered by Citrix can help you adopt a secure network for your workforce.    

Is VPN future proof against security breaches?

VPN aims to offer remote access to a small number of workforces, but VPN scalability and security decrease when that number increases. VPNs compromise access by exposing the whole network to breaches such as spoofing and sniffing. In case the malware reaches the web due to compromised device security, it can lead to an entire network breach. On the other hand, without a VPN, the user gets a defined access layer; thus, it removes the risk of security breaches.   

Since most of the workforce operates remotely nowadays, VPNs lack scalability in that term. Within a traditional VPN model, it gets challenging for the IT team to offer services to multiple users in one go. You can get this feature with Citrix workspace, where you can scale up or down when hiring new employees without the struggle of configuring again and again. For the most part, they can be accessed by any employee sitting in a remote location.  

Worried about your data security, read here: 

How VDI Enhances Data Access and Security In The Healthcare Industry?

1. VPNs compromise user’s privacy while Citrix isolates it

VPN backhauls all the network traffic coming from users to the data center, which is good on the security front. But it includes all kinds of traffic, corporate or personal, thereby hampering employee privacy.    

With Citrix, it backhauls only business data and isolates a user’s personal data.

How Safe is Your Data with
Ace Cloud Virtual Desktop Infrastructure?

2. VPN is not designed to detect network breaches.

This factor introduces the risk of the attacker entering the network while VPNs cannot detect or stop them. VPNs can’t notice threats caused due to vulnerable devices or exfiltrating credentials, so it has limited usefulness.  

Citrix Virtual desktops managed by Ace Cloud Hosting have key security features to detect unauthorized entry, thereby eliminating the possibility of cyber-attack.  

Moreover, Citrix technology utilizes machine learning to comprehend and scrutinize end-user behavior across devices and networks. In case risks are detected, it takes corrected measures like expiring links to shared documents, logging out all accounts, and more.  

Citrix vs. VPN: Reasons to shift from VPN to Citrix

With the fact that free VPN services leaked 1.2TB of user data, companies opting for Citrix have soared. Traditionally VPNs were a popular network for protecting their data while having remote access. However, the scenario has changed and VPN being the traditional model doesn’t meet the modern security needs of remote workforces.    

As such, VPN has several limitations:   

  • VPN is a perimeter-focused model. It means that it gives access to all surrounding resources to a specific user, invading privacy and making space for lateral invasions.    
  • VPN only offers network-level support without delivering visibility at the application level.    
  • With VPN, it is challenging to implement BYOD in the workplace as VPN gives access to unmanaged device networks, with security and support dropping significantly. 
is citrix a VPN 2

Before making a decision, let’s see what advantages Citrix brings over traditional VPN:   

Application layered security: Citrix VDI offers security at the app layer too. And when it is managed by cloud service providers, security becomes their responsibility; they deploy protocols and encryption to maintain user privacy and data security.  

Individual-level access control: Citrix VDI doesn’t allow unauthorized access even within the company if it’s not allowed by the admin.  

Recommended Reading: Citrix vs. VMware VDI 

How does ACE strengthen data security for remote work with Citrix virtual desktops?

Traditional VPN clients are not suited to satisfy current remote work complexities. But thankfully, Citrix-powered virtual desktops give you robust security coupled with exceptional user experience.   

While businesses operate from disparate locations on various devices, delivering a secure virtual desktop with a simplified user experience has become a priority. Especially for data-oriented industries such as healthcare and law, having slow load times, improper access controls, and low stringent security protocols lead to work complexity. ACE delivers you the virtual desktops powered by Citrix to overcome these challenges. This ensures that the company data is never at risk no matter where employees are working, and is free of security breaches or compromised user privacy. 

About Julie Watson

Julie is a dynamic professional with over 16 years of rich experience as a VDI and Application Hosting expert. At Ace Cloud Hosting, she humanizes disruptive and emerging remote working trends to help leaders discover new and better possibilities for digital transformation and innovation by using cloud solutions with an enterprise-class security approach. Beyond work, Julie is a passionate surfer.
On the weekend, you will find her hanging out with her family or surfing around the North Shore of Oahu.

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