Cisco catalyst switches reside at the distribution layers of enterprise networks. From layer three switches designed with the capabilities of routers, to 2960 switches with rugged layer two capabilities, Cisco switches are engineered to accomplish the toughest tasks on your networks. The 2960 Cisco catalyst switch which was used for this demonstration, can be configured for VLAN, VTP, Etherchannel bonding, Rapid spanning tree protocol, Port security, to mention but a few. With complex configurations like this entered on a switch, what do you do when you suddenly realize that your former administrator left with the passwords to your switches and has refused to hand it in? Faced with this situation, don’t worry as I will be explaining how to perform Cisco switch password recovery steps in this post.
One of the topics covered in CCNA is how to recover your Cisco router password but nothing was said about the Cisco catalyst switch. Some of our blog visitors, faced with this situation, have reached out. So for that reason, I decided to do a post on the subject matter.
How can I break the password on a Cisco catalyst switch?
Before I proceed, I would like to say that this is not an encouragement in anyway or any form for you to break into a switch that does not belong to you. It is against the law to break into other people’s network gears without their permission. This can only be done provided the router belongs to you or an organization whose express permission you have to do so. With that said, let us get going with the task.
To recover your switch password, follow the steps below:
>> Connect to the switch via a console cable.
>> Unplugged the power cable on the switch
>> Hold down the mode button on the left side in front of the switch while reconnecting the unplugged power cable and enter the commands in blue, without the # symbol, in the steps below:
>> #dir flash:
>> #rename flash:config.text flash:config.old
>> #rename flash:config.old flash:config.text
>> #copy flash:config.text system:running-config
>> #config t
>> #no enable secret ( this removes the enable secret set on the switch)
>> #enable secret cisco ( sets the new privilege mode password to cisco. Set yours to whatever you want it to. Make sure your password is long enough and can be remembered. Do not write your password down on anywhere, Also remember to change your line passwords as well).
>> #copy run start (saves the edited configuration so that at your next login, the new passwords will be required instead of the old ones set by your former administrator.
That is how quick and easy it is to recover the password on your Cisco catalyst switches. Remember you are only required to type in the commands in blue. The # symbol is generated by the switch.
Note: the line passwords, e.g, the console, vty, and the aux lines, are all displayed in plain text. These passwords can been seen on the switch running configuration file upon successful recovery, so you don’t necessarily need to change these passwords. The enable secret password will be displayed in hash values, hence the need to change it.
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