WiscWeb - 403 Forbidden Error

The 403 error page message is an indicator of a few things that could be wrong. Use the tips below to troubleshoot the cause of the error.

403 error message

The issue states "403 Error: Permission Required."


Users will see this error if one of three things occur:

  1. You were trying to login to WiscWeb
  2. You were trying to peruse a website/webpage
  3. You were trying to submit a web form
  4. You were attempting to upload a file to your Media Library


I was trying to login...

If you are off campus or not connected to a campus network when you receive this error, it is an indicator that you need to connect through WiscVPN. If you already have this installed on your computer, simply login and then try accessing WiscWeb. If you do not have the campus VPN installed on your computer, please download and connect:

  1. Download WiscVPN (aka Global Protect client from Palo Alto)
  2. When connecting, make sure to set the portal to uwmadison.vpn.wisc.edu

More information about how to login can be found in WiscWeb - Logging into your site.

If you were logged in to WiscVPN when you received this error, the issue could be that your browser is in a redirect loop and is getting blocked by Modsecurity. A good test is to see if you can log in via a different browser or in an incognito window. If you can log in with one of these methods, then the following steps will help clear the issue from the browser session that was erroring:

  • Close your browser session completely to stop the redirect loop
  • Wait 15 minutes
  • Try logging in again

I was trying to peruse a website/webpage

If you were just attempting to access a website or webpage when seeing this issue, there's a chance that you need to clear your browser cache and cookies. 

These instructions will help walk you through this process, based on the browser you are using: Clearing Browser Cache and Cookies

If that does not fix your issue, please email help@doit.wisc.edu and note that you'd like your ticket escalated to WiscWeb. Include the following info: 

I was submitting a form...

If you were submitting a form when you saw this error, something you entered into the form is being flagged as a potential hacking attempt. Review the suggestions below and then press the back button in your browser to to adjust and re-submit your form.

  1. Make sure you are not copying and pasting in form content from an external source like Microsoft Word. Try manually typing in the content or using a text-only editor like Notepad (make sure you are using plain text). Externally copied content can carry invisible code that triggers Modsecurity.

  2. Omit special characters from your form fields (examples: percentages %, double quotes ” “, single quotes ‘ ‘, and pipes |). Modsecurity flags these characters. Try using standard letters/words rather than these special characters.

  3. Omit mathematical expressions from your form fields. (example: “1 and 1-1”). Modsecurity flags these characters. Try rephrasing input that includes numbers and logical key words.

  4. Review the fields in the form. Certain form fields can trigger the Modsecurity response when paired with special characters. For example, parentheses ( ) do not work well when placed in a radio button or checkbox list. If items 1-3 are not related to your issue, the problem could be the form itself. 

  5. Confirm that you did not use any carriage returns in any of the fields. This is the equivalent of starting a new line in the text or pressing the Return or Enter key on the keyboard. On the back-end, this adds code that appears as a Windows Command Injection. If removed, you should be able to submit the form without issue.

If you continue to see this error and are unable to submit your form, please contact the support email for the site containing the form. The contact information will be listed at the bottom of the form website. Please include a screenshot of the content you were attempting to submit in the form, if possible – this will help with troubleshooting.

I was uploading a file to the Media Library...

If you were attempting to upload a file to the Media Library when this happened, the issue is likely that there is an "illegal character" in the file name. If your file name contains special characters (e.g. %&@#$'), please remove them and save the file under a new name. Then, try re-uploading.  

Keywords403, can't login, no access, WiscWeb access, error, permission required, VPN, submission, forbidden   Doc ID86053
OwnerJenna K.GroupWiscWeb
Created2018-09-26 12:32:24Updated2024-04-01 10:43:04
SitesDoIT Help Desk, WiscWeb
Feedback  2   8