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Michael Reeder avatar image
Michael Reeder asked Michael Reeder answered

Mystery Outbound Data Streams When Idle in Video

For months, when I leave the web browser version of video call open on my desktop, hours will go by and then I will notice a steady stream of outgoing data from my laptop to... somewhere. This only happens when I have not been actively using the video call (only me logged in) for a long period of time. Every time I try closing other windows and programs the data stream continues. Only when I close out the web browser tab running Ring Central video does the outbound data stream immediately stop. This has happened enough that I know its Ring Central.

For example, today at roughly 3:15pm-3:18pm EST I had been logged into video and inactive (by myself) for a few hours when I noticed outbound data traffic of at least 48kbps/sec (video speeds for Ring Central!) continuously flowing for several minutes as I watched. I closed the video window and this immediately stopped.

QUESTION: Why does Ring Central start downloading steady ongoing data traffic streams after its been sitting unused for hours? What is in the data?

I logged into Pihole (a DNS server that lets me monitor URL addresses that my laptop is contacting/calling out to) and these are the Ring Central related servers contacted during that time period:

I fully expect the inactive video session to be calling home occasionally, so much of this is likely normal. But's what with the continuously large outbound data flow that only occurs when my video session has been idle for long periods of time?

I don't know how to use Wireshark or another packet monitoring tool (yet) so I'm not able to tell WHAT is in the outbound data.

Thanks,

Michael


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Hi Michael, I am checking with the Product Team regarding your concern. I'll get back to you when I have the answer or if they have a follow-up question. Thank you!

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Michael Reeder avatar image Michael Reeder commented ·

Hi Mary -- I appreciate you checking with the Product Team for me. Very cool.

Okay -- so those servers are used for authentication and notification flows -- activity that I would expect to run in the background, so no issue.

Regarding the 48kbps upstream (my computer to the Internet) -- that often is the (somewhat sad) upstream bandwidth during a video call. Right now -- I'm doing LOTS better -- I am currently running a video call with my own 2nd computer in another room and I'm getting 60-90 KBPS downstream (2nd computer to me) / 33 kbps-90 kbps upstream (me to 2nd computer) -- so yes, much better today, but the upstream is often about 48kbps.

Regardless, the speed of the data flow is kind of a side issue. The real issue is WHAT is flowing upstream from my computer to the Internet at that speed, consistently for long periods of time, and only after the video program has sat unused for a few hours with barely to no data traffic?

I had previously posted a similar version of this question as a tech support case and got back the answer "this ticket is related to a Known Issue we currently have in our system. COOPS-6991 - High CPU usage reported from Jupiter/RCV At this point, we will be placing this case into a PKI Hold status." -- which again may be fine as nothing is functionally malfunctioning and I can wait indefinitely for the fix.

The (unanswered so far) important question I posted back to tech support was "Can you give some insight as to the nature of the bug? What's in the data stream that is flowing from my laptop outbound to the Internet?"

I'm not grandstanding on this to be annoying -- there is a HUGE "Trust Us" issue here. From an ignorant end user perspective it at least appears to me like unknown data is being potentially pulled off my laptop at high speed.

If this data stream is truly for authentication and notification flows, I'd expect it to be more intermittent and/or to be happening all the time (not waiting until video has been idle for a long time). If it's a bug, okay, maybe fine -- but can I get some reassurance as to what type of data traffic is outbound from my laptop when I'm not looking?

Thanks,

Michael


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mary-community-moderator avatar image mary-community-moderator ♦♦ Michael Reeder commented ·

Hi Michael, I will check this again with the Product Team.

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Michael Reeder avatar image Michael Reeder Michael Reeder commented ·

Mary -- Thank you very much. -- Michael

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Michael Reeder avatar image Michael Reeder commented ·

So -- there is the weirdness above (outbound/upstream data from my laptop to the Internet when an open video session has been left alone for some hours).


Then -- there is this additional, possibly related weirdness:

I'm logged into a browser-based video session by myself (I often stay logged in all day until clients join me). Data stream is about 9kbps down / 3 kbps up (because no video is happening). I switch Internet sources from ethernet with VPN and Pihole to WIFI. Traffic spikes to 2Kbps down / 340Kbps up. I let this run one minute, then close the video browser window. Traffic immediately drops to 0-199Bps down / 200-450 Bps (not Kbps) up. HUH.

Okay, so I try this again. I reopen a browser-based video session (connected by the same WIFI) -- 1.6Kbps down / 1.3-5.7Kbps up.

I switch Internet sources again back to my ethernet/VPN/Pihole connection. Traffic spikes to 1.1-2.5Kbps down / 200-350+ Kbps up!

I say to myself "ok, maybe changing Internet connections kicks off a process in which the video software has to work to re-establish something in the connection". So I let this run a full 5 minutes.

At the end of 5 minutes, the data speeds are still 2Kbps down / 200-350+Kbps up. (Please keep in mind that today -- during an actual video call with another computer -- data speeds were 75-77Kbps down / 52-78 Kbps up)

I close the video browser window, and immediately the data usage on my computer drops to 64 Bps down / 0-2.4Kbps up.

I don't care about the amount of data being used at all. I also don't mind if its a software bug.

What I'm trying to figure out is WHY I have that much outbound data traffic from my laptop to the Internet. If its to help the video session re-establish itself after an Internet connection switch I'm assuming it would not take over 5 minutes with this much outbound data, but I could certainly be wrong.

I'm wide open to this not being an important issue with a sufficient explanation.

My concern is that this is an Internet security issue. Is data being sucked off my harddrive? What kind of outbound data requires an unknown amount of time (I cut it off at 5 minutes) at 350Kbps when outbound data during an actual video call is about 70Kbps or less?

I should mention that switching Internet connections from WIFI to ethernet and back without your video browser app being open DOES NOT spike data usage on my computer.

I should also mention that the initial opening of your browser video window uses a maximum of 20Kbps up (usually less), although it does take a few minutes (I believe about 2 minutes).

Finally -- I should mention that switching Internet connections from ethernet to WIFI during a live video call with another computer DOES NOT result in the outbound data spike.

Thanks,

Michael








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Michael Reeder avatar image Michael Reeder commented ·

Mary -- Checking back in to see if there has been an update?

I don't seriously believe that a major company like Ring Central -- with a top-tier Silicon Valley executive team and major venture capital funding -- really sucks data off of hard drives. That would be ridiculous.

But I do need some plausible explanation for why large quantity asymmetrical constant data flow occurs outbound from my laptop to the Internet when 1) The video session is idle for some hours, or 2) I change Internet connections on an idle connection. Also -- more importantly -- WHAT is in the data stream.

I've been at this for roughly 9 days -- first in private trouble tickets (told it was a bug with no fix date), then here (told the purpose of the servers contacted and a discussion about video speeds).

It is -- I hope -- a simple question.

Appreciate continuing help with the matter.


Thanks,

Michael




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mary-community-moderator avatar image mary-community-moderator ♦♦ Michael Reeder commented ·

Hello Michael,

I'm still waiting for a response from the people I'm asking for help with. I know this is very important to you. I'll get back to you as soon as I get an answer. I appreciate your patience.

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Michael Reeder avatar image Michael Reeder mary-community-moderator ♦♦ commented ·

Thank you Mary.

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Michael Reeder avatar image Michael Reeder commented ·

I highly appreciate the time Dmitry (network engineer) took with me last Thursday March 10th to look into this issue. We did a video call and turned on some developer tools to look at settings. We were not able to recreate the problems on the call, so I was asked to send screenshots when the problem occurred later.

I was able to reliably recreate the problem later that day when switching from ethernet to WIFI and took several screenshots which I emailed to him.

I look forward to hearing back if the screenshots shed any light on the nature of the problem.

In the meantime, I continue to close Ring Central video sessions between calls (its better if I can just leave it sitting open for clients to join me) as a security precaution since I remain unaware of what data is outbound when the data usage spike occurs.


Thanks,

Michael


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mary-community-moderator avatar image mary-community-moderator ♦♦ Michael Reeder commented ·

@Michael Reeder I will follow up with Dmitry about the screenshots you sent. Thank you!

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Michael Reeder avatar image Michael Reeder mary-community-moderator ♦♦ commented ·

@Mary-Community_Moderator -- Perfect! Thank you.

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mary-community-moderator avatar image
mary-community-moderator answered

@Michael Reeder, according to the Product Team, these hosts are being used within authentication and notification flows to keep users signed in and deliver them incoming notifications on messages, calls, and other evens. And the 48kbit is not a bandwidth that can fit the video stream.


Please mark this answer as accepted if the information is helpful to you. Thanks!

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Michael Reeder avatar image
Michael Reeder answered

Okay -- I've been at this since March 1st 2022. Today is March 26th. First I opened a private support case, then I escalated to this public community support forum.


At this point I'm going to have to fire Ring Central video (Glip) and find another telehealth service -- maybe Zoom? (Sessions by Psychology Today continues to work very well with no security issues I can find. I always keep two services for redundancy since I work several hours per day in online therapy sessions.)

Someone I know with a master's degree in computer science suggests that it may just be "sloppy code" rather than data being sucked off my hard drive. Regardless, I can't keep using a video service that periodically starts a massive outbound data stream from my location to the Internet for no known reason.

I don't truly believe anything nefarious is happening on purpose -- the problem is at best burning up my bandwidth when I'm not watching, and at worst a security threat that remains unaddressed.

-- Michael

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