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Update 22 January: problems with Remote Workplace and the website

21 January 2020

As an update to previous announcements, this is to inform you about the current status of the problems with Remote Workplace and the website. We appreciate that there are many questions about this and would therefore like to provide some answers. Unfortunately, it still isn’t possible to use Remote Workplace to work from home or another location. We expect this to be possible once again from the end of 24 January. There are fewer problems with the website but it regrettably remains unstable. Below are the answers to a number of questions that you may have.

Can I use Remote Workplace to work on the University network from home or another location (through Citrix)?

No, we’re afraid that you can’t at present. We expect this to be possible again from the end of 24 January at the earliest.

Why can’t I use Remote Workplace?

Remote Workplace works through the Citrix system, and there are security problems with this system. The advice from the National Cyber Security Centre (NCSC) is therefore not to use it.

Why is there still no secure version of Citrix available here when there is at other organisations?

There are different versions of Citrix and each version has its own security problem. At Leiden University we use the latest version (13.0) of Citrix/Netscaler and there are no patches (software that solves the security problem) available at the moment. The ISSC will do all that it can to install the patch once it is available. The patch for our version will be released on 24 January, and we expect to be able to install this on the same day. You won’t be able to use Remote Workspace until then. 

Will my personal settings for Remote Workspace (Citrix) have changed once it is available again?

No, your personal settings won’t have changed.

Are there any alternatives to Remote Workspace?

Unfortunately, there is no real alternative to Remote Workspace. What you can do is as follows:

  • You can use webmail. to access your email from home. Tip: send smaller files to yourself by mail.
  • You can use the Surfdrive cloud service. 
  • If you use Mac or Linux, you can access Remote Workspace from University workspaces through https://store.campus.leidenuniv.nl. You can also use this to access Self Service.
  • You can use Citrix applications that are offered on your University workspace (within the University), e.g. via a shortcut on your desktop.
  • You can use SFTP (secure file transfer protocol) to access your files. Contact the ISSC Helpdesk. Please note: the Helpdesk can’t access your files for you.
  • If you work with RDS (Remote Desktop Service), this option is still available.

What’s going on with the website?

The website has been unstable over the last few days. Although it is now more stable, it isn’t yet completely stable. This means the website or parts of it may be inaccessible at times. We are working hard to fix this.

Tip: As the website is made up of different sections, you may find, for instance, that the external website is not available whereas the staff members, student or library sites are.

There were also problems with the search function and these have largely been fixed, except if you want to search for people, which still isn’t possible. We are working hard to solve this. Tip: you can also search in Google and the Outlook address book.

Are the website problems linked to the Citrix problem?

No, they are two separate problems. It’s a coincidence that we are experiencing them at the same time.

Was there a DDoS attack?

There wasn’t a DDoS attack, but there was a significant increase in internet traffic, and this was of a different nature.

Why was the website temporarily blocking traffic from abroad?

The website was temporarily blocking traffic from abroad for security reasons. It is now accessible from abroad once again.

I can’t find people through the search function. When will this be working properly again?

The search function is largely working again, except for if you want to search for people. We are working hard to solve this. Tip: you can also search in Google and the Outlook address book.

When will the website be stable again?

Unfortunately, we can’t say when the website will be fully stable again.

Some members of staff are experiencing problems with Outlook. Are these related to the other problems?

No, the problems with Outlook aren’t related to Citrix or the website.

Advice: If you have a new PC and are unable to configure your mail properly, please contact the helpdesk.
If you see an unfamiliar (auto-discover) pop-up message in Outlook, click on toestaan/allow.

Why did the ISSC recently install Windows patches?

The ISSC always installs Microsoft patches, installing urgent ones as soon as possible. Desktop patches were installed sooner than planned on all workspaces last week. Emergency patches were installed on MS servers (University Webmail, active directory, Microsoft Sharepoint, Windows application servers) last night (20 January).     

There were reports of a leak in Internet Explorer 11 (IE11). What has the ISSC done to address this?

Microsoft doesn’t yet have a patch for this. Steps will be taken this week to limit this vulnerability.

Is my research data safe?

Your data that is stored on the central University systems is not at risk.

How do I log in to my files if I am teaching in a lecture hall?

If you want to access your files through Remote Workplace/Citrix in a lecture hall, you can do so from this url: https://store.campus.leidenuniv.nl.

What has the ISSC done so far?

The explanation that follows is fairly technical. If you have any questions about this, please contact the ISSC. The ISSC has installed extra analysis technology/software and is in the process of expanding the University’s server capacity. We are checking different types of log file, such as java error logs, and our suppliers are checking them too. Hippo has been placed behind the ISSC’s new (F5) load balancer because this provides more analysis options. We have blocked many IP addresses because of suspicious traffic.

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