Legally obtain Cisco IOS updates for free

Lets say you have a Cisco router that’s running an out of date IOS version and want to get a more recent image. It’s safe to say you’ll want to avoid resorting to piracy, Perhaps you don’t want to spend the money on a SMARTnet subscription. There’s a way to legally obtain an updated version that many people over look, security updates.

As it stands, CISCO’s security vulnerability policy states that (emphasis mine):

As a special customer service, and to improve the overall security of the Internet, Cisco may offer customers free of charge software updates to address security problems. If Cisco has offered a free software update to address a specific issue, noncontract customers who are eligible for the update may obtain it by contacting the Cisco TAC using any of the means described in the Contact Summary section of this document. To verify their entitlement, individuals who contact the TAC should have available the URL of the Cisco document that is offering the update.

Great! So we can probably get free updates if they fix a security issue, so what next? Head over to a handy on-line Cisco tool to identify what vulnerabilities are present in the version of IOS you’re running. Paste in the output of the “show ver” command and you’ll be presented with a list of vulnerabilities affecting your device.

Providing sh ver output to software checker

With that information, send TAC Support an e-mail including the output of the “show ver” command and the list of vulnerabilities and you will be sent a one-off link to obtain the latest IOS image for your device, free of charge.

How To – Recover config from a Cisco router without passwords

So, you have a Cisco router that you need to extract the configuration from but have no idea what the access details might be? So long as you have physical access to the device, and a console cable you may be in luck.

The first thing to do is connect a serial cable and use something like PuTTY or Hyperterminal to connect to your device. I’m not going to describe that process herein, if you’re unsure of how to do that it’s probably best you not proceed further.

Once you’re connected to the device, you’re probably sat at a login screen. Turn off the router and remove its CF card (or press break in the boot sequence to enter ROMmon). Boot the router and without the CF card it should enter ROMmon.

You’re probably wondering what ROMmon is? ROMmon, or “ROM Monitor”, is a bootstrap program implemented in the firmware on your router that’s responsibility is to initialize hardware boot the IOS image for your device.
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