How to Connect to and Manage Cisco Routers and Firewalls

In this article, I’ll explain how to connect to and manage Cisco routers and firewalls. I was recently asked how to do this by somebody interested in learning more about networking. The notation and mystery make it seem harder than it really is, and if you’re somebody who hasn’t done it before, finding a definite answer may be overwhelming as information is typically scattered across many articles.

There are 4 methods:

  1. Console Connection: Connect to the device by physically connecting your computer to the console connection on the back
  2. SSH: Connect to the device using SSH as you would SSH into any other device or server
  3. Cisco Configuration Professional (CCP): Connect to the device by using Cisco’s GUI configuration software, CCP
  4. Telnet: Connect to the device using Telnet (which you should never use because it’s fully insecure)

Rather than typing out the instructions for every method, I’ll include at least one video showing how to do it using a real device.

Console Connection

Interestingly, I’ve seen some folks connect a device to the router/firewall via console and then manage them by opening a remote desktop session. From the remote desktop session, they will connect from the device physically connected to the router/firewall via console cable. I would never recommend this because remote desktop connections can fail, you’re leaving a device connected to your network infrastructure unattended, and it can’t scale.

SSH

CCP

Telnet

I won’t include a video for Telnet because the process, minus the commands you type, is identical to SSH. Instead, watch the SSH video to see Telnet connection in action. Remember, never use Telnet unless you can reasonably articulate why to not use anything else and why Telnet must be used. It’s unencrypted and all traffic is sent in plain text. Anybody snooping on your network will see all credentials and commands you provide.

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