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Strange Screen, Keyboard, Mouse Behaviors When Connected to a VM


This article covers a few of the strange keyboard, video or mouse behaviors that can affect graphical (RDP) connections to your Cyber Range virtual machine(s), and then provides you with a list of three common fixes or workarounds should you experience them.

Why is My VM Exhibiting Strange Behaviors?

Has your mouse been moving on its own and your keyboard typing by itself, or do you encounter a black screen when attempting to start an exercise environment? Please rest assured that you have not been hacked. While this issue rarely happens to users of the U.S. Cyber Range, it can sometimes occur. Some of these annoyances are related to known RDP library issues and others related to VM connection issues. However, the fixes are usually simple and quick. Please continue reading below for more information.

How to Troubleshoot Strange Behavior in Exercise Environments

  1. Refresh Your Browser: First, for any of these issues, always try performing a browser refresh. This solution is quick and simple, and often resolves most of these RDP/graphical connection issues. Refreshing your browser forces the javascript RDP web client running in your browser to re-establish a connection to the Cyber Range VM, which resets the RDP connection. This quick fix is also the least intrusive as it will usually not affect what you are doing or interacting with on your VM desktop (all windows and documents remain open). Anyone using a VM can do this themselves.

  2. Restart Your Exercise Environment: If you were unable to resolve your graphical VM session issue with the browser refresh fix above, then an exercise environment restart may prove helpful. This fix is a little more disruptive, in that anything you had open or were working on will be closed as your VM reboots. This is done with the Cyber Range “Stop” and “Start” (power on/off) icons next to your VM. Please see the section titled How to Perform an Exercise Environment Soft Restart to learn about restarting exercise environments. Anyone using a VM can do this themselves.

  3. Reset, Wipe, & Reprovision Your Exercise Environment: If restarting your exercise environment does not fix your VM issue, then you may need to consider resetting your specific VM environment instance. This is a more extreme measure that will erase and rebuild your VM environment back to stock and cause all saved work to be lost. This method for reprovisioning a single student’s VM environment is also useful if the student has destructively changed the VM in some way that makes it unusable. Please see the section titled How to Reset, Wipe, & Reprovision an Exercise Environment to learn more about resetting exercise environments.


    Only TAs and Instructors can perform exercise environment resets. If you are a student, please reach out to your instructor for further assistance.

Have a Question? Contact Support


Students: Please reach out to your Instructor who can submit a ticket to our Support Team on your behalf.

We're here to help you. If you still have questions after reviewing the information above, please feel free to submit a ticket with our Support Team and we'll get back to you as soon as possible.