Virgin Media’s Super Hub breaks if you use a long password

27 Jun

While changing all my passwords, I decided to change my Virgin Media Super Hub password. Wish I hadn’t…

I choose one 17 characters long – the router was quite happy to let me make the change. When I went to log back in, it would not accept the password.

A quick bit of googling said the box only allows 14 character passwords (a problem that has existed since 2012 by the looks of the article dates). Attempts to login with the first 14 character failed too.

I chatted online with Virgin Media support engineer – Jack – a very helpful engineer who tried and suggested many options. But in short nothing worked. I concluded the chat session with…

So to summarise.
To increase the security of my router I changed my password to password 17 characters long.
Your product let me configure this password and gave no warnings.
Your product only allows 14 character passwords.
The net effect is I am locked out of my router.
My only option is reset the router, lose all my settings and configure it with a less secure password.

Can you please confirm this is Virgin Media position?

Please note, I will be publicising the above text using social media. If this is not correct, please advise where my understanding is incorrect.

His response

I’ll certainly pass this information along to see if it can be fixed in a future firmware update, though that can take a long time.
But yes you have summarised this correctly, the recommendation for passwords is usually 8-10, I think you’re the first person I’ve come across that ever tried one that’s 17.

Conclusion…

  1. Virgin Media really don’t care about locking customers out and causing inconvenience – they have been aware of the issue since 2012, and have declined to fix it.
  2. Virgin Media are preventing a strong password, please let’s not have a debate about NSA backdoors and weakened systems etc – but it would be interesting to hear Virgin Media’s view on why?

I’ve logged a formal complaint and resorted to social media, so if I get a sensible reply will let you know…

UPDATE July 2nd.

I was contacted by Jim, from Virgin Media.

Thanks so much for sharing the information you have through social media and your blog. We’ve tested stuff out here but can’t recreate the issue.

What we noticed in our tests was:

1. In actual fact the character limit is 15 characters.

2. Even if you attempt to add more characters it will only accept 15

3. Additional keystrokes beyond 15 are not recognised and do not affect the next login. There was no account lockout.

Could you try using just the first 15 characters as it may let you in.

Needless to say, I tried 14, 15, 16 and 17 characters.   Still no joy.

But it is good to note Virgin Media did respond in more depth once I bypassed their help desk and used social media.

At this stage without further testing who knows who is right about the cause of my issue.

I’ve bitten the bullet and done a hard reset and configured my router.

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