ICTSNut bunnies. UCT’s main IS support branch, ICTS (Information & Communication Technological Services) has just gone and screwed all my homebrew applications that download any information from the external network completely by introducing an ISA cache server between us and the outside world.

Their first attempts at trying to control and reign in the ever burgeoning bandwidth usage problem here at UCT relied on heavy packet shaping and protocol blocking, which worked to an extent but as far as they are concerned hasn’t worked well enough. Their latest attempt involves the use of an Internet Security and Acceleration (ISA) cache server through which all UCT internet traffic passes (basically acting as a manually-authenticated proxy server), forcing users to log in on every outgoing connection, thereby assigning data usage records to each UCT employee and making it possible for them to identify and stop potential bandwidth hogs.

And although this isn’t necessarily a bad thing in itself, it has now created a huge headache for me as this preliminary authentication to the ISA server doesn’t seem to be able to be automated, putting a large number of my custom applications here at UCT quite literally in the dark of the local network. They are mostly non-essential apps like my RSS feed readers and my Comic Strip Downloader, but it is a really pity to have to see these fun little apps lose their usefulness so quickly.

I’ve spent the whole morning dabbling with workarounds, and so far the closest I can get is by introducing this piece of code to handle downloads, but which only works should you have saved the ISA password using Internet Explorer browser first:

Dim WbReq As New Net.WebClient
WbReq.Proxy.Credentials = System.Net.CredentialCache.DefaultCredentials

However, this is quite useless should you not use IE or if IE won’t run on your machine correctly, which is the case of OBE1, my main server from which I run most of my applications. *sigh*

Looks like I’m going to have to come up with a whole new way of thinking then to get around this.

Related link: http://www.icts.uct.ac.za/modules.php?name=News&file=article&sid=2667