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mSecure (Windows) prevents login with lost internet?

Could someone please give a definitive description of how mSecure is intended to work when Internet is not working?

I thought, and was relying on, that mSecure did not require to phone home, and did not require internet connectivity to work.

However, this evening we had an ISP outage, and upon launching mSecure (to get info for the ISP) it hung at the initial screen with the key logo in the middle, but no password entry slot.   Needless to say, it could not be used. 

A possible variable of interest is that the PC had connectivity to the WAN, but Traceroute showed only a few hops outside our router and cablemodem, and then nothing. 

This is mSecure on Windows 10, recent updates.

I should slightly modify my report.  I described the act of providing a password to mSecure as "login".  But actually I have Sync Method set to Wi-Fi, specifically to avoid any need to interact with mSecure's cloud service. So the password I provide should be just to gain access to the local data, and specifically NOT to log in to some central server. 

Yet it sure behaved like it was waiting to connect to the remote server, and without which, no password box.

Hi Graham,

Thank you for contacting us. mSecure should not need internet access in order for you to use the app as you normally would. However, it does need to contact our server for licensing purposes, and other account-wide settings. It's an account-based app, so there is no getting around it contacting our servers to make sure licensing is taken care of at various intervals.

Aside from licensing, mSecure also stored non-private information on the account to make things like communicating with other devices on your network possible. For example, the IP Address for the "Main Computer" (the computer running as the server of your mSecure data) on your network is stored on your account. The name of your Wi-Fi network is also stored on the account. Both of these pieces of information make it possible for all the other devices signed in to your account to find and communicate with the "Main Computer" serving your mSecure information. Since the IP Address can change dynamically, it's necessary at times for mSecure to update those settings on your account, so there are regular checks made to our server to see if updates to these settings have been made. This keeps all devices communicating with one another so that syncing can be done over your network.

And just to be clear, none of the information stored can help anyone get access to your network or mSecure information. In order to do that, they would have to know the public IP address to your router, and of course, we would never store that information anywhere on our system.

Now the problem is, you are saying that mSecure hung up when you opened and there was no internet access. As mentioned before, the app should operate normally without internet access. Settings do need to be updated occasionally, but if the network name and the IP Address for the Main Computer have not changed, then even if there is no internet access, everything, including Wi-Fi syncing, should still work.

Real quick, if internet access is back online, can you either unplug the ethernet cable from your computer or turn off Wi-Fi on the device and open mSecure again? Were you able to enter your password and get into the app?

>  Real quick, if internet access is back online, can you either unplug the ethernet cable

> from your computer or turn off Wi-Fi on the device and open mSecure again?

> Were you able to enter your password and get into the app?

I disconnected the LAN at the cablemodem.  The computer (Windows 10) shows "No internet access" on the tray network icon.   When starting up mSecure, it sticks at the initial key image screen for about 10 secs, then shows the Password box.

The problem I reported was similar, except in that case mSecure hung indefinitely at the key. But in that case Windows thought it did have internet access, but the disconnection was several routers upstream at the cable company.

Hi Graham,

I'm not sure what's happening, because mSecure doesn't know about how your computer is hooked up to the internet. It simply gets a response from the OS of whether it's online or not. If there is no internet access, regardless of how that is determined by the OS, it should work.

If I understand you correctly, you're now saying things are working when you simply unplug your PC from the internet by disconnecting the ethernet cable?

To be clear, mSecure has been working fine since the incident I reported cleared up (which was an hour or so after the problem showed up, and general internet service was restored).

When experimenting, with the LAN disconnected one way or another (and Windows indicating no internet connection) , mSecure's initial hang at the "key icon" screen  ends after about 10 sec, and then the login box appears.  From this I conclude that mSecure tries to phone home when launched.  (And I can see in Resource Monitor that mSecure performs network activity when it starts.)

As I said, in the scenario I reported, what may have been unique is that Windows thought it DID have internet connection, but upstream the route to your service (and most of the rest of the internet) apparently was not available.   This sent me to look at how Windows determines "internet access available": apparently NLA component NCSI, and probing for a file on a server somewhere, which might actually be on a CDN more local to end users. That could explain why Windows thought internet OK, but actually it was not.

All of which is to say that mSecure might have been getting fooled by a rather rare situation -- perhaps it keeps trying to connect to your servers if Windows tells it that internet is OK, and that causes indefinite hang.   If so, a temporary workaround is to unplug the LAN (or shutdown wifi), and that would unstick mSecure.

All of which is a bit speculative, and assumes that my observations were accurate at the time the incident happened, which I think they were, but are difficult for you to depend on. 

So probably not a high priority to investigate. 

Thank you for all those details Graham! I think you might be onto something with a few of the details you described, though I'm not sure it's possible that CDN data can be "more" local to end users. I'm not sure about that, so it is an interesting thought that some of the data cached could be local, causing some confusion with apps trying to connect with servers online. I think what you said about the computer being a bit confused and thinking it was online when it wasn't sounds like it might be the cause. Of course, I'm speculating here too so not sure.

At any rate, it's good to hear everything is working now, but please let me know if you experience any problems. Oh, and the 10 second "hang" is mSecure checking for connection with our server. It tries for awhile and then times out if the connection can't be made.

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