[CentOS] Passwords apparently stopped working.

Jerry McAllister jerrymc at msu.edu
Tue Jan 3 16:44:36 UTC 2012

On Tue, Jan 03, 2012 at 10:30:38AM -0500, James B. Byrne wrote:

> I encountered a couple of strange events with respect to
> password authentication this morning. Two of our staff
> were unable to login onto several systems using their
> usual passwords.  Both users had last logged in on these
> hosts using their accounts and passwords on Friday past.
> The two accounts could not log on to any of the servers
> for which they had access and the message log on each
> showed that access was denied for a failed password.  The
> systems involved were running either CentOS-4.9 or
> CentOS-5.7.  So, the effect was uniform across multiple
> hardware and software platforms.  I also checked these
> accounts against our warm backup machine and encountered
> the same problems for both.
> I verified that the passwords being used were correct for
> the accounts.  I also verified that neither of passwords
> had been reset in some months and there were no expiry
> dates set for the accounts.
> I would accept the coincidence of both forgetting their
> passwords except for the fact that each had kept a record
> of their password in their wallets and I was able to
> confirm those values against our records as well.
> Resetting both the passwords to their current values using
> the passwd utility on each system corrected the problem
> insofar as the users were concerned.  However, I am
> somewhat perplexed as to the reason for their passwords to
> stop working in the first place. Is anyone here aware of
> any reason why this might happen?

Any chance it is something as basic as the caps lock key getting
hit unbeknownst to the users?   It has happened to me a number
of times - especially on my current keyboard which does not
have an indicator light.

> -- 
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> James B. Byrne                mailto:ByrneJB at Harte-Lyne.ca
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