I was troubleshooting a MacPractice MD Server the other day for a client. I noticed some strange behavior and decided to look at some network statistics. I found an established connection to an address that resolved to an Updox server. Updox is integrated into MacPractice MD as a paid extra of sorts. You can read more about Updox and their relationship with MacPractice on the Updox website. The fact that the software is phoning a vendor’s business partner instead of the vendor directly is why I have titled this entry as Your MacPractice MD Server Phoning a Friend instead of Your MacPractice MD Server Phoning Home.
The real issue with these connections is that the client I was working for did not pay for that extra feature. They had no contract with Updox and had no business purpose to communicate with them. They had previously expressed interest in using Updox with MacPractice MD for electronic FAX but did not pursue it after checking out the cost. No trial was ever started. Why was this MacPractice MD Server connecting to Updox servers? I met with my contact and explained what I found. I was curious and wanted to find out more. Ultimately this was not the cause or a symptom of the problem which I had been contacted to solve. I didn’t seek written permission to capture and analyze network traffic (I didn’t want to open a can of worms over my own curiosity.) but I did ask for permission to access the Cisco Meraki hardware and logs. The client and network administrator were more than willing to let me look further into this if I wanted to. Hell yes I did.
The connections from the MacPractice MD Server to Updox happened regularly and were over port 443 to 188.8.131.52. That IP address resolved to myupdox.com. Although I did not capture and dissect any network traffic I was able to verify that the IP address was listening for https on port 443 by establishing a connection with my own Mac. It was expected but worth verifying. In a 24 hour period the Meraki Security Appliance logged 1440 flows between the MacPractice MD Server and this IP address. (Note: A flow is defined by the firewall as one connection socket. https://documentation.meraki.com/MR/Firewall_and_Traffic_Shaping/Traffic_Analytics_and_the_Layer_7_Firewall) The number 1440 reeks of automation. It also seems excessive. Over the 24 hour period a total of 5.5MB was transferred between these two machines and about 2.5MB of that was egress traffic. Not a whole lot of action. With 100% certainty I can say that the MacPractice MD Server makes these connections. Any assumptions beyond that are just those – Assumptions.
I would love to set up a test MacPractice MD Server with ZAP or Burp Proxy to have a better idea of what’s going on inside of those connections. I’m unable to test any hypothesis I may have about this until I’m essentially gifted a MacPractice MD Server license. Ideally I would be able to research this issue to either confirm my hunch that this traffic is benign or to be gifted with a juicy surprise. I’ve ragged on MacPractice before for a handful of reasons. Nevertheless it would be fun to find out what exactly is going on and potentially fix an issue. Even if it’s just for tidiness.