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Firewalls

Solution

Updated June 2012

Symptoms: After clicking the button to enter a web conference room (e.g. Log on or Join Now), the message Unable to Connect is displayed, or the message Connecting continues to display, or nothing happens and you are returned to the login form.

Overview:

Firewalls are key components of any Information Technology networking infrastructure. A firewall can either be software-based or hardware-based. Firewalls protect computers and other devices from unauthorized remote access that may intentionally or accidentally harm the computer or device. Firewalls should not be confused with antivirus tools. While both provide security protection, their purposes and functions are different.

Software-based Firewalls

A software-based firewall is perhaps the one most personal computer users understand. Such firewalls may also be referred to as Personal Firewalls. They are usually included in a security package, and installed on the personal computer by the user at the same time as antivirus and other security utilities are installed. Personal firewalls may also be installed unknowingly (e.g. Windows 7, for example, provides a firewall).

Typically, a software-based firewall will intercept the installation of a program and prompt the user with options for that program - e.g. Always allow ... or Allow once.. or Deny .... The plugin for tcConference technology is a program which is installed manually or automatically. Therefore, if at any time you receive the firewall prompt when the plugin is being installed, you should choose the option to Always allow...

The firewall will likely choose the safest option as the default and, therefore, if you accept the default, or if you automatically click the Next button, and the default is Always deny ..., your firewall will create a rule preventing the plugin from connecting to the tcConference server. You will then see the symptom described at the beginning of this article.

This issue is simple to correct. Changing firewall rules may be a bit intimidating. Most software-based firewalls will allow you to temporarily disable them. Therefore, a quick way to determine if your software-based firewall(s) is/are blocking access to the server, is to disable the firewall and again try to connect. If you are successful in connecting, you have isolated the issue and will need to look at the firewall's rules, and then remove the rule preventing the connection. Look for a rule associated with WebConferencePlugin.exe. Do not leave your firewall disabled.

Hardware-based Firewalls

If you are working from a business office it is almost certain there is a hardware-based firewall, or a network proxy server, or even both. These services are managed and maintained by Network Security Administrators. Company policies will likely be in place to specify what procedures and management approvals are required to modify or add firewalls as well as proxy servers. An example of a policy might be: All requests for network security rule changes and additions must be accompanied with a business case signed by the requesting departmental manager. The changes and additions must be approved by the IT Security Administration Director. Therefore, if the firewall or proxy server is blocking access to/from the tcConference server, it could take some time before the necessary changes are implemented.

The best way to determine what changes are necessary is to work with the IT Network Security Administration staff. This should be done as soon as possible. There are two pieces of information network administrators will need: a) the port being used, and b) the IP address of the tcConference server. The port is 443. The IP address, in most cases, will be the IP address associated with the www.comference321.com domain. In some cases, a different web conference server may be assigned. You can identify the server domain name from the URL used to log into the room, and then use that domain name to determine the IP address. The Network Security Administrators will know how to find the IP address from the domain name.

If a proxy server is part of the network infrastructure, the Network Security Administrator will provide parameters each user will need. This is accomplished as follows:

  1. Click the Options menu.
  2. Click the Configuration sub menu.
  3. Choose Connection.
  4. Add the parameters provided by the Network Security Administrator.
  5. Click OK.

The above information may assist the Network Security Administrator with their analysis.

Router Firewalls

Some routers may include firewall functions. If you are in a corporate world, the Network Security Administrators would be responsible for these settings. However, if you are working from a home network and are unable to connect, it is not inconceivable that a router firewall is blocking your access. To this point, no such situation has been reported, but it is possible.

Quick Connection Test

We have assumed in this tutorial that the ability to successfully log into a tcConference room confirms resolution of the connection problem. Alternatively, you could use a small diagnostic utility provided with the technology for this confirmation. This utility, ConnectionTest, is located in the C:/tcConference folder - look for ConnectionTest.exe. ConnectionTest will: a) simplify testing and b) provide additional diagnostics. When the utility shows the connection test was successful, it shows Test Successful and you should then be able to successfully enter a tcConference room; at the very least, it will indicate firewalls and proxy servers are not the problem. If you cannot log into a tcConference room after ConnectionTest has completed successfully, additional research will be necessary to identify why you can't enter a room.

 
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Article details
Article ID: 95
Category: Possible Issues
Date added: 2012-06-07 23:10:33
Views: 837
Rating (Votes): Article rated 3.1/5.0 (59)

 
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