You’d like to think products as critical as network infrastructure are rigorously tested before they hit the market. Not always! A few years ago, Cisco was forced to issue a warning because of a serious design flaw that’s so dumb I almost can’t believe it ever shipped.
In October 2013, Cisco published a “Field Notice” warning that 48-port models of its expensive 3650 and 3680 switches were vulnerable to a system reset because a major design oversight.
In these models, the system factory reset button is directly above port 1, which is a problem because many models of “snagless” ethernet cables have a little boot that keeps you from accidentally releasing of breaking the latching tab. Take for example:
Some of these cables have a very long boot, such that when you push the cable into port 1 on these Cisco models, you reset your system.
These switches aren’t the kind of products you’re going to have in your home—they’re designed for data centres and the like. So you can imagine how this might be a potentially treacherous little design flaw. Plug in a cable, and down goes the data centre! (I mean, hopefully you’re set up so that a single switch can’t take down the whole system, but you get the idea. Scary!)
You can see the little reset button above port 1 on the top left of input panel.
Cisco’s remedy for the problem? Get cables without a boot, or break the boot off the cable. That’s a little janky, huh?
Obviously, this problem is not the end of the world. Mostly, it’s just an amusing illustration of how colossal design oversights sometimes make it all the way to the world undetected.