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Lori MacVittie

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BIG-IP Support for Morse Code Password Recovery Protocol


The explosive growth of systems in the data center has led to a password problem. There's just too darn many of them. Even consumers are fatigued by password overload according to a Janrain study in 2012: "58 percent of online adults have five or more unique passwords associated with their online logins and 30 percent of people have more than 10 unique passwords they need to remember." And while Excel spreadsheets have been a source of comfort for many operators and administrators, it's an unfortunately reality that sometimes an operator fails to follow operating procedure and update the spreadsheet after changing a critical root password.

Given the strategic importance of BIG-IP in the data center, it is imperative that in the event of a lost root password there exist methods to retrieve it quickly. To ensure continued operation and access to applications delivered via BIG-IP, F5 is pleased to reveal support for Morse Code Password Recovery (MCPR) protocol .

BIG-IP Support for MCPR

BIG-IP systems delivered in hardware-form factor have always included "the F5 ball." While many have appreciated the seemingly aesthetic-only accoutrement for the soft lighting it provides at oh-dark-thirty, the F5 ball is also a secure means of retrieving a misplaced BIG-IP root password via Morse Code. By using the ball as an input device, administrators and operators can quickly and securely enter commands via the most well-recognized but least-known cipher of the twentieth century, enabling quick and secure retrieval of their treasured root password.

Morse code remains a successful cipher primarily because of its speed and the inability of most human beings to remember lengthy sequences which use repeating cipher text.

One product management engineer was overheard screaming, "Was that dot-dot-dash-dot with a pause or dot-dot-dash-dot without a pause?!"  during testing of this feature, proving that despite his ability to recite entire iRules by rote, trying to recall even short sequences of Morse Code was frustrating and thus quite secure.

Details on recovering BIG-IP root passwords via MCPR protocol is available in Sol 14312: Recovering a root password with the Morse Code Password Recovery protocol How-To.

.... .- .--. .--. -.--  .- .--. .-. .. .-..  ..-. --- --- .-.. .----. ...  -.. .- -.--!

Additional Resources

Morse Code Online Translator

AskF5 Solution Article: Recovering a root password with the Morse Code Password Recovery protocol

AskF5 Solution-Article: An important computer that is strong and does not get confused Overview

AskF5 Solution Article: No further Solution numbers available Known Issue

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More Stories By Lori MacVittie

Lori MacVittie is responsible for education and evangelism of application services available across F5’s entire product suite. Her role includes authorship of technical materials and participation in a number of community-based forums and industry standards organizations, among other efforts. MacVittie has extensive programming experience as an application architect, as well as network and systems development and administration expertise. Prior to joining F5, MacVittie was an award-winning Senior Technology Editor at Network Computing Magazine, where she conducted product research and evaluation focused on integration with application and network architectures, and authored articles on a variety of topics aimed at IT professionals. Her most recent area of focus included SOA-related products and architectures. She holds a B.S. in Information and Computing Science from the University of Wisconsin at Green Bay, and an M.S. in Computer Science from Nova Southeastern University.