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jeff-frontz avatar image
jeff-frontz asked ·

Why is RingCentral for Mac trying to access pubsub.pubnub.com?

I use Little Snitch to monitor network activity on my Mac -- it reports that the RingCentral for Mac application tries to access pubsub.pubnub.com (54.236.3.173 -- which is actually a system in AWS cloud) on port 80.

Does anyone know why it's doing this?  I can't find anything on the RingCentral website except for some references to pubnub embedded in the HTML of one page.
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bjsvec answered ·
PubNub is a platform used for things like secure messaging and voip applications.  It is nothing to be concerned about in general.  https://www.pubnub.com/solutions/
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In general, I'm concerned about everything ;-)
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I get that, but welcome to the modern internet :)  This is the way most modern applications, especially real time communication apps work now.  It is rare to have a one to one client to server relationship anymore.  Facebook, Whatsapp, etc. all bounce through services like this around the globe.  
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And that's fine, when those apps are sandboxed in iOS -- and when they're not being used for business purposes.  A promiscuous app on a business desktop is a bit more concerning.
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mike answered ·
Also...

Port  80 and 443 TCP only (These ports are used for initial phone provisioning)

For all network requirements visit: Network requirements
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jeff-frontz answered ·
It's more than a bit disconcerting to see one company's app open a connection to a third-party location, especially without an explicit mention of this in any documentation.  As a security-conscious person, my first thought was "OMG, does RingCentral have some sort of spyware/trojan infecting their SDK?"

That the app seems to behave fine when the connection is denied makes me even more suspicious.
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I suspect *something* in the app will not work or be degraded if that is blocked.
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It'd be ideal if RingCentral would be forthcoming about what feature(s) are dependent on being able to access which third-party services.  If pubsub is required for, say, salesforce integration, I can sleep easy leaving it blocked.  But, really, they're going to get asked this all the time going forward, as more and more network administrators lock down their networks/applications to prevent side-channel information disclosure.
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Hi Jeff,   I understand your concern. I've double-checked with one of our Tier 3 engineers and for this particular issue, pubnub is a partner we use for the HUD feature. 

The combined architecture of the RingCentral Desktop app, RingCentral Meetings and Glip is extremely complex, and it does require Network preparation in order for all services to correctly function.  So, if you ever see anything you are curious about again, please feel free to post here again or give us a call. 

Thanks!

Mike 
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OK, thanks Mike -- it looks like the HUD feature was optional at some point ( https://success.ringcentral.com/articles/RC_Knowledge_Article/8212 ) -- is there some different way to disable it on the more recent desktop application?
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If you go to the Settings screen, and click Calls, you'll see a switch to turn it off. 


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mike answered ·
I confirmed with our Tier 3 engineers that this is legitimate.

Hello,

Pubnub is the 3rd party vendor we use for HUD updates on the softphone. This applies not only to the MAC version but the Windows version of the desktop app as well. So, the traffic seen going to and from their servers is for that specific feature.

 

Thanks,

-Justin

Tier 3 Support Engineer


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Thanks, Mike -- so the confusing thing remains: that even with the HUD feature disabled in the app, the connection attempt persists.

I'll continue to block pubnub connections from my network and hope that the desktop app is updated to pay heed to the HUD-enabled state before it attempts a pubnub connection.


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