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There are a number of technical methods being passed around to 'recover' a system that has a set password that has been forgotten. Here is a 'policy' step that can ensure that the password is never 'lost.'
- Get a lockbox -- the fireproof kind with a key lock is sufficient.
- When the administrator password is created, write it down on a 3x5 note card. (Yes, I know that everything says to 'never' write down a password, but just hear me out.)
- Take a second notecard and cover the side of your first notecard on which you have written and seal the note card in an envelope. If you use safety envelopes or manila envelopes, you probably don't need the second card; the idea is to ensure that the writing cannot be read without unsealing the envelope.
- On the outside of the envelope, write down the name of the server and the date and store the envelope in the lockbox.
Servers, individual workstations, firewalls, routers -- anything that requires a password -- can have an envelope prepared and you will be ready for the next time Joe User forgets his password or Betty Administrator goes on vacation and you need a server password.
Put this process in place and ensure that when a password is changed, the card is updated, and you will have much better control of systems and passwords.
This was first published in March 2003