Firefox only work with VPN connected, why?
January 20, 2010 12:26 PM   Subscribe

I work remotely, have a company-owned laptop issued to me and I use VPN and IE to access through to our company's intranet. For years, I've also used Firefox to browse the internet regardless of whether I was VPN'd in or not. No problem until a couple of weeks ago. Now Firefox will not work unless I am connected to my company through VPN. Why?

I've googled the heck out this question with no results. I've also uninstalled/reinstalled Firefox with no results. There are no proxies at play, and it is not location dependent (various hotels and my home network don't work with FF unless VPN is connected). A few other data points ... I work for a 3,000+ company, Symantec and "Checkpoint Integrity Agent" are installed and active. No hardware changes and I cannot even access my own home router w/ FF unless VPN is connected. IE works just fine regardless of VPN status as does a command line ping.
posted by Dave. to Computers & Internet (13 answers total)
Response by poster: I forgot to add that, while FF is not strictly forbidden, it is also not "supported" by our Tech Support people.
posted by Dave. at 12:27 PM on January 20, 2010

It sounds like imported IE's security settings; maybe go to settings and select no proxy. Reinstall the program if that doesn't work
posted by Rubbstone at 12:42 PM on January 20, 2010

Agree sounds like it perhaps add proxy settings into the browser
posted by bleucube at 12:46 PM on January 20, 2010

Have you updated FF lately? If so, try reverting to a previous version (

Go to Tools > Options > Advanced > Network tab and click the Settings button. Try "No proxy" or "Auto-detect proxy settings" (or switching to the other one if one's already checked).

Also, if there's a firewall of any sort, see if non-VPN Firefox is being blocked.

On preview: looks like I'm not the only one whose first thought was "proxy settings"!
posted by Greg_Ace at 12:51 PM on January 20, 2010

Response by poster: No proxy settings are configured for either IE or Firefox. Neither is the option for "auto-detect". Proxy is not the issue here. And I have not used a proxy for 10+ years when working remotely.

When I first encountered this problem, it was with an older version of FF (3.0.2 I believe). I since upgraded to the most current version (3.5.7) with no success ...
posted by Dave. at 12:56 PM on January 20, 2010

They may have blocked non-IE browsers. What happens if you do:

telnet 80

and type in "GET /index.html HTTP/1.0" and hit enter?

Do you get a bunch of html?
posted by damn dirty ape at 1:24 PM on January 20, 2010

Response by poster: Thanks Ape, that was certainly something I was wondering about.

2 things:
When I am VPN'd in ... and I issue "telnet 80" from a command line, my prompt goes away and the cmd window just hangs. Except its not really hanging ... when I type that "GET" line (I can't actually see myself typing it, I'm basically typing into blackness) ... and I hit return ... I do get a bunch of html followed by "connection to host lost".

When I am NOT VPN'd in ... and I issue telnet ... I simply get "Connecting To not open connection to the host, on port 80: Connect failed".

Thanks (and I must say its been a loooong time since I've used Telnet!).
posted by Dave. at 1:39 PM on January 20, 2010

Best answer: Yep, they have a exemption for IE and have everything else locked down. Its not a firefox issue. Its just your new security policy.
posted by damn dirty ape at 1:48 PM on January 20, 2010

Response by poster: Ape, very much what I suspected.

If you have experience in this area (which it sounds like you do), can you add any insight into why they would enable FF with VPN while disallowing it without VPN?
posted by Dave. at 1:55 PM on January 20, 2010

Likely because your company has a transparent web proxy for monitoring/filtering of web nasties, and wants to force all your HTTP traffic to go through it
posted by coriolisdave at 2:11 PM on January 20, 2010

You can try renaming firefox.exe to iexplore.exe and see if it fools it. That might work if its a local setting. If its a network setting or a transparent proxy then there's probably nothing you can do.
posted by damn dirty ape at 3:09 PM on January 20, 2010

Best answer: There might be a Firefox extension that makes Firefox identify as IE. You could try that.

However, circumventing your security policy is probably not a good idea.
posted by twblalock at 4:28 PM on January 20, 2010

Response by poster: Agreed twblalock, an attempt to defeat the security policies would be a dumb idea.
posted by Dave. at 7:05 AM on January 21, 2010

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