Password reset

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This document offers guidance when a Wikimedia user loses access to their account and can't login.

Wikimedia account password reset

A user can't login if two conditions are met:

  • they have a blank or incorrect email address;
  • they have forgotten their password.

In such case, there is a need to avoid social engineering: it's necessary to ensure that the user making the request has a legitimate claim to the user account in question. A good point to check is if the requester's e-mail address can be legitimately linked with user.

Ensure the request is legitimate

Make sure the request is legit. This part is covered at Password reset/Confirming identities.

Especially, someone from Trust & Safety should be notified of the password reset. It might also be a good idea to pass things to them if there is no sufficient elements to confirm the identity.

Technical procedure to follow

  • On a maintenance host (such as mwmaint1002), run mwscript resetUserEmail.php --wiki=<user's home wiki> <username> <new email>
  • In your browser, go to Special:PasswordReset on the user's main wiki.
  • Type in the user's name, left the e-mail address blank and click "Reset password".
  • Ask requester to check their inbox to ensure that the password reset email was received.

Notes:

  • Home wiki shouldn't matter much
  • MediaWiki usernames could contain UTF-8 characters. If you've some difficulties to use them on the terminal, you can use instead the user id prefixed with #.

Two-factor authentication removal

Before following these steps, if the user has an existing device available that has worked with 2FA in the past but has suddenly ceased working, ensure the user's 2FA device has an accurate clock. The clue is in the name of the 2FA method we use - Time-based One-time Password Algorithm - if the clock on the device is too far off it must generate the wrong codes (it has happened with e.g. 2 minutes difference). :)

Wikimedia or wikitech two factor authentication removal

Be careful! This process is highly vulnerable to social-engineering attacks. Don't reset things just because a user asked you on IRC or via email. Before resetting someone's login, be sure to confirm their identity:

  • If you recognize them, have a face-to-face or in a video chat.
  • If someone on WMF staff recognizes them, have a three-way video chat where a staffmember vouches.
  • Have the user write a request to disable 2fa in their home directory on a CloudVPS/Toolforge bastion.

A maintenance script works both for wikitech 2FA and SUL 2FA:

For wikitech 2FA, run the following on a wikitech host (labweb1001 or labweb1002) or on mwmaint1002:

mwscript extensions/OATHAuth/maintenance/disableOATHAuthForUser.php --wiki=labswiki <username>

For SUL (Wikipedia etc.) 2FA, determine a wiki on which the user exists locally (i.e. has contributions), and then run the script on mwmaint1002 using that wiki:

mwscript extensions/OATHAuth/maintenance/disableOATHAuthForUser.php --wiki=<wiki> <username>


The user can then log in using just their password and re-add two factor authentication.

Phabricator two factor authentication removal