Products & Services

Default Administrative Password in Cisco Guard and Traffic Anomaly Detector

Advisory ID: cisco-sa-20041215-guard

Revision 1.0

For Public Release 2004 December 15 19:00  UTC (GMT)


The Cisco Guard and Cisco Traffic Anomaly Detector software contains a default password for an administrative account. This password is set, without any user's intervention, during installation of the software used by the Cisco Guard and Traffic Anomaly Detector Distributed Denial of Service (DDoS) mitigation appliances, and is the same in all installations of the product.

Software version 3.0 and earlier of the Cisco Guard and Traffic Anomaly Detector are affected by this vulnerability. Customers running version 3.1 or higher of the software are not affected. There are workarounds available including one that does not require a reboot of the device. Cisco has made free software available to address this problem.

The vulnerabilities are documented as the following Cisco bug IDs: CSCeg12167 ( registered customers only) and CSCeg12188 ( registered customers only) .

This advisory is available at

Affected Products

This section provides details on affected products.

Vulnerable Products

All versions of the software for the Cisco Guard and Cisco Traffic Anomaly Detector prior to version 3.1 are affected by this vulnerability.

There are three ways to determine the software version that your Cisco Guard and Cisco Traffic Anomaly Detector DDoS mitigation appliances are running:

  • Virtual terminal or local serial console connection
  • Remote Secure Shell (SSH) connection
  • Remote secure web session

What follows is an example of each method; you should choose the method that applies to your particular environment and network setup.

  1. To determine the software version number through the local serial console use a serial cable and a terminal emulation program to connect to the appliance. Once you are connected press the Enter key of your terminal and the Guard and Traffic Anomaly Detector will present, without even logging in, the version of the software running on the devices:
    Cisco Guard Version 3.1(0.12)
    GUARD login:
    In this example the Cisco Guard is running software version 3.1.
    For a virtual terminal the procedure is the same except that no serial cable or terminal emulation program is needed (a standard keyboard and monitor are directly connected to the appliance.)
  2. To obtain the software version number through a SSH session use a SSH client to log into the Cisco Guard or Cisco Traffic Anomaly Detector and issue the show version command-line interface (CLI) command. The following example shows an interaction with a Cisco Traffic Anomaly Detector:
    prompt$ ssh's password:
    Last login: Wed Nov 24 22:45:53 on ttyS0
    admin@DETECTOR#show version
    Copyright (c) 2000-2004 Cisco Systems, Inc. All rights reserved.
    Software License Agreement
    Cisco Anomaly Detector
    Release: 3.1(0.12)
    Date:    2004/10/27 19:58:14
    DETECTOR uptime is 3 weeks, 3 days, 17 hours, 53 minutes
    System Serial Number:  XXXXXXX
    Contact Information:
       Cisco Systems Inc.
    In this example the Cisco Traffic Anomaly Detector is running software version 3.1.
  3. To obtain the software version that Cisco Guard and Cisco Traffic Anomaly Detector are running through a secure web interface, open the URL https://<IP address of your Guard or Detector>/ in a web browser, log in, and then click on the About link located on the top right section of the browser window.

Products Confirmed Not Vulnerable

No other Cisco products are currently known to create these specific default account/passwords.


The Cisco Guard and Cisco Traffic Anomaly Detectors are Distributed Denial of Service (DDoS) attack mitigation appliances that detect the presence of a potential DDoS attack and divert attack traffic destined for the network being monitored without affecting the flow of legitimate traffic.

Both the Cisco Guard and the Cisco Anomaly Traffic Detector appliances can be managed via a virtual terminal (standard keyboard and monitor attached directly to the appliance), a local serial console, remote SSH connections, and/or remote secure web sessions. Most management and troubleshooting tasks are performed through a CLI interface that is similar to that of most Cisco products, but a special administrative account is provided so certain management and troubleshooting tasks that are not covered by the standard CLI can be performed. The administrative account username is root, like the superuser in the Unix operating system.

This account has a default password that is the same in all installations of the Cisco Guard and Cisco Traffic Anomaly Detector in all versions prior to 3.1. This default password is made up of a combination of letters, numbers, and punctuation per best security practices for passwords, but Cisco recommends that this password be changed for extra security.

The vulnerability described here is documented in the Cisco Bug ID CSCeg12167 (registered customers only) for the Cisco Guard and in the Cisco Bug ID CSCeg12188 (registered customers only) for the Cisco Traffic Anomaly Detector.

Vulnerability Scoring Details

Cisco has provided scores for the vulnerabilities in this advisory based on the Common Vulnerability Scoring System (CVSS). The CVSS scoring in this Security Advisory is done in accordance with CVSS version 2.0.

CVSS is a standards-based scoring method that conveys vulnerability severity and helps determine urgency and priority of response.

Cisco has provided a base and temporal score. Customers can then compute environmental scores to assist in determining the impact of the vulnerability in individual networks.

Cisco has provided an FAQ to answer additional questions regarding CVSS at .

Cisco has also provided a CVSS calculator to help compute the environmental impact for individual networks at .


Someone that is able to log into a Cisco Guard or Cisco Traffic Anomaly Detector DDoS mitigation appliance using the root administrative account has full control of the device, which includes the ability to change configurations, divert traffic, and install software.

Software Versions and Fixes

While workarounds that do not require a software upgrade exist, Cisco has made available free software that addresses the vulnerability described in this document.

Version 3.1 or later of the Cisco Guard and Cisco Traffic Anomaly Detector software does not leave a default password for the administrative root account after a fresh installation or after an upgrade from previous versions. This is because in version 3.1 and later the installation/upgrade procedure requires the user to choose a password for the administrative account.

Note:  the procedure to upgrade to version 3.1 can only be done through the out-of-band interfaces.

When considering software upgrades, please also consult and any subsequent advisories to determine exposure and a complete upgrade solution.

In all cases, customers should exercise caution to be certain the devices to be upgraded contain sufficient memory and that current hardware and software configurations will continue to be supported properly by the new release. If the information is not clear, contact the Cisco Technical Assistance Center ("TAC") for assistance.

If affected customers are not able to upgrade the software, the workarounds presented in the Workarounds section can be employed to completely eliminate this vulnerability.


The vulnerability described in this document can be eliminated completely by logging into the affected Cisco Guard and Cisco Traffic Anomaly Detector DDoS mitigation appliances and changing the default password for the administrative root account to a strong password chosen by the user.

To change the default password you need to run the passwd command once you have logged in as the root user. The following interaction shows and example of a change password dialog in a Cisco Traffic Anomaly Detector that is performed via SSH:

prompt$ ssh's password:
Last login: Tue Nov 23 15:48:13 on ttyS0
[root@DETECTOR root]# passwd
Changing password for user root.
New password: <new password typed in here>
Retype new password: <new password typed in here>
passwd: all authentication tokens updated successfully.

In order to perform this procedure you will need the default password. To obtain this password customers must contact the Cisco TAC. Entitlement will be checked so please have your product serial number available and give the URL of this notice.

After changing the default password, the Cisco Guard and Traffic Anomaly Detector will not accept root logins using the default password.

A reboot is not required for the new password to take effect, so network operations will not be disrupted.

If affected customers do not wish to contact Cisco to obtain the default password, it is possible to change the administrative account's password by performing the password recovery procedure. This procedure is documented at the following location:

As a security best practice, it is recommended that customers make use of the access control feature that restricts connectivity to the SSH and web-based management services to certain IP networks configured by the administrator. Refer to the documentation for your Cisco Guard and Cisco Traffic Anomaly Detector, specifically the permit wbm and permit ssh commands, for details on how to enable this feature. Having these access control mechanisms in place may mitigate the vulnerability if it cannot be eliminated completely by changing the default password as described above.

Obtaining Fixed Software

Cisco has made free software available to address this vulnerability for affected customers. Prior to deploying software, customers should consult their maintenance provider or check the software for feature set compatibility and known issues specific to their environment.

Customers may only install and expect support for the feature sets they have purchased. By installing, downloading, accessing or otherwise using such software upgrades, customers agree to be bound by the terms of Cisco's software license terms found at, or as otherwise set forth at Downloads at

Do not contact either "" or "" for software upgrades.

Customers with Service Contracts

Customers with contracts should obtain upgraded software through their regular update channels. For most customers, this means that upgrades should be obtained through the Software Center on Cisco's worldwide website at

Customers using Third Party Support Organizations

Customers whose Cisco products are provided or maintained through prior or existing agreement with third-party support organizations such as Cisco Partners, authorized resellers, or service providers should contact that support organization for guidance and assistance with the appropriate course of action in regards to this advisory.

The effectiveness of any workaround or fix is dependent on specific customer situations such as product mix, network topology, traffic behavior, and organizational mission. Due to the variety of affected products and releases, customers should consult with their service provider or support organization to ensure any applied workaround or fix is the most appropriate for use in the intended network before it is deployed.

Customers without Service Contracts

Customers who purchase direct from Cisco but who do not hold a Cisco service contract and customers who purchase through third-party vendors but are unsuccessful in obtaining fixed software through their point of sale should obtain software patches and bug fixes by contacting the Cisco Technical Assistance Center (TAC). TAC contacts are as follows.

  • +1 800 553 2447 (toll free from within North America)
  • +1 408 526 7209 (toll call from anywhere in the world)
  • e-mail:

Have your product serial number available and provide the URL of this notice as evidence of entitlement to a software patch or bug fix. Customers without service contracts should request a software patch or bug fix through the TAC.

Refer to for additional TAC contact information, including special localized telephone numbers and instructions and e-mail addresses for use in various languages.

Exploitation and Public Announcements

The Cisco PSIRT is not aware of any public announcements or malicious use of the vulnerability described in this advisory.

This vulnerability was uncovered during internal code audit.

Status of this Notice: Final


A stand-alone copy or Paraphrase of the text of this document that omits the distribution URL in the following section is an uncontrolled copy, and may lack important information or contain factual errors.


This advisory will be posted on Cisco's worldwide website at

In addition to worldwide web posting, a text version of this notice is clear-signed with the Cisco PSIRT PGP key and is posted to the following e-mail and Usenet news recipients:

  • (includes CERT/CC)

Future updates of this advisory, if any, will be placed on Cisco's worldwide website, but may or may not be actively announced on mailing lists or newsgroups. Users concerned about this problem are encouraged to check the above URL for any updates.

Revision History

Revision 1.0


Initial public release.

Cisco Security Procedures

Complete information on reporting security vulnerabilities in Cisco products, obtaining assistance with security incidents, and registering to receive security information from Cisco, is available on Cisco's worldwide website at This includes instructions for press inquiries regarding Cisco security notices. All Cisco security advisories are available at