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Understanding Zeroization to Clear System Data


The cryptographic module provides a non-approved mode of operation in which non-approved cryptographic algorithms are supported. When transitioning between the non-approved mode of operation and the FIPS approved mode of operation, or vice-versa, the cryptographic officer shall zeroize all keys and CSPs.

Zeroization completely erases all configuration information on the Routing Engines, including all plain-text passwords, secrets, and private keys for SSH, local encryption, local authentication, and IPsec.

The Crypto Officer initiates the zeroization process by entering the request system zeroize (FIPS) operational command from the CLI after enabling FIPS mode. Use of this command is restricted to the Crypto Officer. (To zeroize the system before enabling FIPS mode, use the request system zeroize command.)


Perform system zeroization with care. After the zeroization process is complete, no data is left on the Routing Engine. The switch is returned to the factory default state, without any configured users or configuration files.

Zeroization can be time-consuming. Although all configurations are removed in a few seconds, the zeroization process goes on to overwrite all media, which can take considerable time depending on the size of the media.

Why Zeroize?

Your switch is not considered a valid FIPS cryptographic module until all critical security parameters (CSPs) have been entered—or reentered—while the switch is in FIPS mode.

Best Practice

For FIPS 140-2 compliance, you must zeroize the system to remove sensitive information before disabling FIPS mode on the switch.

When to Zeroize?

As Crypto Officer, perform zeroization in the following situations:

  • Before FIPS operation—To prepare your switch for operation as a FIPS cryptographic module, perform zeroization before enabling FIPS mode.

  • Before non-FIPS operation—To begin repurposing your switch for non-FIPS operation, perform zeroization on the switch.


    Juniper Networks does not support installing non-FIPS software in a FIPS environment, but doing so might be necessary in certain test environments. Be sure to zeroize the system first.