test me

Site Search:

enable password vs enable secret

The following is a citation from a cisco document.
Conclusion: don't use enable password, use enable secret instead.

Password Management
Passwords control access to resources or devices. This is accomplished through the definition a password or secret that is used in order to authenticate requests. When a request is received for access to a resource or device, the request is challenged for verification of the password and identity, and access can be granted, denied, or limited based on the result. As a security best practice, passwords must be managed with a TACACS+ or RADIUS authentication server. However, note that a locally configured password for privileged access is still be needed in the event of failure of the TACACS+ or RADIUS services. A device can also have other password information present within its configuration, such as an NTP key, SNMP community string, or Routing Protocol key.

The enable secret command is used in order to set the password that grants privileged administrative access to the Cisco IOS system. The enable secret command must be used, rather than the older enable password command. The enable password command uses a weak encryption algorithm.

If no enable secret is set and a password is configured for the console tty line, the console password can be used in order to receive privileged access, even from a remote virtual tty (vty) session. This action is almost certainly unwanted and is another reason to ensure configuration of an enable secret.

The service password-encryption global configuration command directs the Cisco IOS software to encrypt the passwords, Challenge Handshake Authentication Protocol (CHAP) secrets, and similar data that are saved in its configuration file. Such encryption is useful in order to prevent casual observers from reading passwords, such as when they look at the screen over the muster of an administrator. However, the algorithm used by the service password-encryption command is a simple Vigenère cipher. The algorithm is not designed to protect configuration files against serious analysis by even slightly sophisticated attackers and must not be used for this purpose. Any Cisco IOS configuration file that contains encrypted passwords must be treated with the same care that is used for a cleartext list of those same passwords.

While this weak encryption algorithm is not used by the enable secret command, it is used by the enable password global configuration command, as well as the password line configuration command. Passwords of this type must be eliminated and the enable secret command or the Enhanced Password Security feature needs to be used.

The enable secret command and the Enhanced Password Security feature use Message Digest 5 (MD5) for password hashing. This algorithm has had considerable public review and is not known to be reversible. However, the algorithm is subject to dictionary attacks. In a dictionary attack, an attacker tries every word in a dictionary or other list of candidate passwords in order to find a match. Therefore, configuration files must be securely stored and only shared with trusted individuals.