Cisco PIX 515E

Today’s mini project was playing around with a Cisco PIX 515E I bought off eBay a while back. It’s a firewall appliance, a rather old one at this stage.

As it was password protected, the first task on the list was to figure out how to reset the login password. This proved to be more challenging than I had anticipated, as it wasn’t a simple thing like a paperclip and tiny reset switch, or a motherboard jumper, or pulling an internal battery… I had already bought one of those famous Cisco light blue RJ45 to serial cables to be able to connect up to the serial console port, which I hooked up with my Versaterm. I tracked down an old Cisco webpage on the Internet Archive, which documented the password reset process, and went through setting up an TFTP server on my NUC (I used Tftpd64, which worked well). This is required as you have to transfer across a small binary file referred to as the “PIX Password Lockout Utility”, which is what actually clears the password.

I set up a temporary network using the ethernet ports on an old Linksys WRT54GL, just in case, as one webpage noted there may be issues on a Gigabit Ethernet network when the PIX 515E is running in the reset procedure mode.

So, after a bit of experimentation with commands, and the joys of figuring out which specific version of the binary file I needed, I made progress and was greeted with a lot more scrolling output, and then after another reboot, a login prompt that this time was happy with a blank password!

Interestingly, the configuration files show this to have been in use by a fairly large minerals processing company, based in Perth, with network links to offices around the world… There were a few other saved passwords in some of the other config files, but hopefully after 10 years+ they are all well and truly out of date! I’ll have to nuke those just in case though…

Currently listening: “Red Snapper - Hot Flush (Sabres of Paradise Remix)”

Jonathan Wrigley @workswellforme