How can I fix this 403 error?
March 17, 2021 7:57 AM   Subscribe

I'm suddenly unable to access my school's online learning environment (I teach online). I get a 403 error and I'm pretty sure the problem is on my side. Please help me, the school's IT person just said "That's bizarre" and I haven't heard back from them again since Monday.

I'm using Chrome on a windows desktop machine. I don't get this error when I use Chrome on my laptop, I can access the site with no problem.
The URL I'm using is correct, it works when I use a different browser on the same machine. (I copied and pasted it from one browser to the other) I've disabled all extensions on Chrome - the only extension I use is uBlock Origin, and disabling it makes no difference. I've cleared browsing data, specifically cookies and browsing history.
I need to fix this as it's really messing up my workflow. I don't want to use a different browser, and I can't assess student work on my laptop for complicated reasons. Please help!
posted by Zumbador to Computers & Internet (10 answers total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
Does it work in an incognito window?
posted by Transmissions From Vrillon at 8:06 AM on March 17, 2021 [3 favorites]

Was going to ask about incognito mode as well. Also I know you said you don't want a different browser, but it's worth trying the other browsers to at least diagnose the issue (it's it browser, OS, network level). I'd try Brave or Firefox.
posted by pyro979 at 8:09 AM on March 17, 2021 [1 favorite]

Oh also you can try resetting chrome settings if you're ok with it.

Other items to consider:
Are you using a VPN?
Anti virus or other anti malware software?
Any other new recently installed software?
posted by pyro979 at 8:12 AM on March 17, 2021 [1 favorite]

Do you get this at the homepage, the login page or after you've logged in?
403 is forbidden, so I wonder if it's related to your account.
Please try logging in in Chrome using incognito mode.
posted by signal at 8:16 AM on March 17, 2021 [1 favorite]

Response by poster: Hmm! Running it in incognito mode means I can access the site. So where do I go from here?
I use Surfshark VPN - in fact I suspect it - but it's not connected. It doesn't show up in Task Manager so I don't think it's doing something in the background. I do use a Firewall but I haven't changed any settings...?
No other recently installed software.
posted by Zumbador at 8:17 AM on March 17, 2021

Do you have anything saved in the browser's password manager? Or use a weird bookmark to get there?
posted by wenestvedt at 8:25 AM on March 17, 2021

If it works in Incognito, I would try clearing your cache (might want to try clearing cookies as well, to be safe). You can also try a hard refresh of the logon page (Ctrl + F5) - this skips any cached data and forces the browser to refresh the entire page from scratch.
posted by photo guy at 8:54 AM on March 17, 2021 [4 favorites]

Response by poster: Clearing the browser data did the trick and I'm back on the site now. The mistake I made was to only clear it for the last month. I had to clear it for "all time". Thanks! Phew. Now I can maybe get some work done.
posted by Zumbador at 9:24 AM on March 17, 2021 [4 favorites]

This sort of problem is fairly common with banks, etc. "Erase all your cookies" is the authentication equivalent of turning your computer off and on.
Glad you got it fixed.
posted by signal at 10:24 AM on March 17, 2021 [2 favorites]

Clean the browser cache using any cache-removing software. and then try. It will surely work.
posted by chocolatenights at 3:15 PM on March 17, 2021

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