How to Configure OSPF MD5 Authentication

This topic is to discuss the following lesson:

thank you so much… this helped me

Rene… in order to configure MD5 for an entire area… do we have to (at a minimum) configure a single subnet first - interface on Router A and connecting interface on Router B – using the

ip ospf authentication message-digest
ip ospf message-digest key 1 dm5 PASSWORD

Does that have to be done first? If yes – then the - Area 1 authentication message digest – command applies authentication to every other router and its interface in the entire area? … with the same key and password?

Hi Jason,

If you enable those two commands on the interface then MD5 authentication will be used, but only if the interface is running OSPF. You need to make sure you have a network command that covers the subnet of the interface. Otherwise…the interface won’t run OSPF so we also won’t have any authentication :slight_smile:


Easy to understand, Thanks.

what if i have instances of different OSPF area, and I want the different areas to communicate. is it still the exact same or I need to have a different key number and the same password.

Hi Adriel,

Authentication and the authentication key can be configured per interface. You could use the same key everywhere but for security reasons, it might be a better idea to use a different key for each neighbor adjacency.


Hi Rene,

Thanks for explanations. I have questions regarding authentication.

  1. Why we have two authentication method?. Is there any security level difference between two?.
  2. Can you pls paste the running config of the plain text and md5 authentication keys, just to make sure the encryption of both.
    (The above are interview questions)

Hi Shanmugasiva,

Authentication methods change often throughout the years. Plain text isn’t very secure since (as the name implies) everything is clear text. If you use a sniffer like wireshark then you can see the password in the packet capture. MD5 is a bit more secure since it uses hashing.

On IOS XE, OSPF also supports SHA256 for authentication which is even more secure than MD5.

You can find the output of the running configuration at the bottom of each lesson:

How to configure OSPF MD5 Authentication

OSPF Plain Text Authentication
OSPF MD5 Authentication


hi Rene,

there is something i don’t understand.

if we enable authentication globally on an area by using this cmd area authentication message-digest.

why did we confugre again ip ospf authentication message-digest under interface level ?

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Hello Stephane Carlos

You can either enable MD5 authentication globally in an area, or individually on specific interfaces. So you either enter the command area X authentication message-digest under the OSPF configuration or the ip ospf authentication message-digest command under each interface you want to enable it for.

It’s not quite clear in Rene’s lesson. I’ll let him know to clarify that.



Hi Rene

Still i am confused about the same ? if i configure MD5 or plain text on interface then why we need to configure authentication on area ? could you please explain me briefly

Hello Aniket

There are essentially two parts to the configuration of MD5 authentication for OSPF. One is the configuration of the parameters themselves such as key number and password. This is performed on the interface in question with the command ip ospf message-digest-key X md5 password.

The second part to the configuration has to do with the actual activation of the functionality. This can be done in two ways:

One is to activate the authentication functionality on a per interface basis. This involves implementing the ip ospf authentication message-digest command on every interface where you configure OSPF authentication.

The other option is to activate the authentication functionality on a per area basis, so all interfaces in the area are activated with authentication. This can be done with the command area X authentication message-digest where X is the area for which you want to activate it.

I hope this has been helpful!


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In regards to what Rene was saying if you use GNS3 it has that built in wireshark which is very nice. to check out see pic below where you can see clear text password with wireshark in the OSPF header.


Also you have to understand I am no wireshark expert I am just starting to learn and play around with it more since starting my network studies. So if a novice could find it just think what pros could do and find!


Hi Lazaros,
As Rene has configured the key number and password in interface f0/0 do we use this in area 0 or we configure another? Because that is for f0/0.

Hello Muhammad

There are two ways to configure authentication. The first is to configure it on a per interface basis. In this case, you configure the commands as shown on the interfaces themsevles. This will enable authentication only between OSPF routers that are connected via interfaces that have been configured.

The second way to configure it is for all OSPF routers in the area. By enabling it under the OSPF configuration, all participating interfaces will attempt to authenticate with their neighbors that are in the same area. In this case, you don’t configure the ip ospf authentication message-digest command on each interface. Whether you do or not will not affect the end result.

I hope this has been helpful!