An error has just been noticed and corrected in the proxy autoconfiguration (proxy.pac) file.

This mistake, which has been present since just after graduation (i.e. about two weeks), will have prevented people in some of the more restricted areas of the network from accessing secure web sites. These sites include things like Hotmail and other web mail sites, online banking and shopping sites, etc. In most instances, affected users will have been able to access the non-secure parts of the sites, but would have found things timed out when trying to log in or submit secure forms.

Areas that will have been affected include the public computer laboritories, some departmental laboritories (such as the undergraduate labs in Hamilton building), and users of the various wireless access points on campus. The residence network, as well as computers in most academic departments, institutes and service divisions should not have been affected by this.

People who have been experiencing problems with secure sites recently are encouraged to reload the proxy autoconfiguration file. In Netscape or Mozilla, this can be done by clicking the reload button in the proxy configuration dialogue. It is more difficult in Internet Explorer and requires that the browser is restarted completely. In some instances, where other applications (for example, ABSA's online banking client) are making use of IE ActiveX controls, etc you may be required to completely restart your machines.

For those interested in the technical details, the error was the proverbial "off by one" error. A substring comparison in the proxy.pac file that matched the word "https:" was cutting the URL one character too short, thus "https" != "https:" and thus the protocol was never recognised as being supported by the cache server. All six characters in the string are now taken into account.