May 4, 2017

Help! No one can log in!

By: Craig Taylor
May 4, 2017

No one can log into Sitecore; Sitecore Domain deleted.

Oh snap.  It's Friday afternoon at the end of a long week and you get a desperate email from the client indicating that none of the logins for the Sitecore CM server work any longer.  Guess I'll put down the beer from the office kegerator and go look at things. :/

First up: Confirm the CD servers are still running/displaying the site.  Check.

Next: Is the CM server up?  Check; I can see the Sitecore login screen.

Next: Attempt to log into the CM with my admin account: Hmm, not able to log in.

Next: RDP into the CM server to see what's going on.  Able to RDP fine.

Next: Look at the logs.  Come across something interesting/scary:

Err, that doesn't look good.  Someone logged into Sitecore using an admin account and managed to delete the Sitecore domain.  You know, the one that *all* the logins are associated with. . .   So now, no one can log in.

Fortunately, the users themselves are not deleted when a domain is deleted. (

Before we get into how to solve this, let's talk about a couple of security issues here.

One: It looks like users that clearly don't know what they are doing have access to an admin account where they can do very bad things.  I think it should be a extremely rare exception where a content author needs this level of access.  It takes longer to properly configure security so that content authors can do everything they need to do but don't have access to portions of Sitecore that they don't need, but that's how it should be done.  Sometimes you can't avoid this and have to create some admin accounts for users, but as the logs show us, we don't even know where to point the finger since a 'generic' admin account was used.

Two: DO NOT GIVE CREDENTIALS TO GENERIC ADMIN ACCOUNTS!  If a user 'needs' admin access, make the account tied to that user an admin.  This would at least let us see who made the boo-boo.

Okay, let's solve this.

Restoring last night's database backup could be an option.  (Checks with Devops)  "Oh, the database backup process isn't running properly and we have no backups?  Super."  Side note: Well, at least we found that out now and can fix that.

Somehow hacking in to the database to restore whatever was deleted could be an option.  Hmm, I'm not sure I even want to go there.

Recall that there is a "Domains.config" file in the "App_Config\Security" folder and that the error specifically mentioned modifying it, there might be something there. . . .

After comparing the modified file to a stock Sitecore Domains.config file, it was easy to see that the only thing missing was the line that declared the "sitecore" domain:

I added that line back in and poof!: Everyone can log in again.  A much easier solve than I would have thought for something that appeared to be very scary.

Next step: IMMEDIATELY change the generic admin account credentials and let the users know that they can log in again.

Now, back to that beer. . .

TL;DR: Put the "sitecore" domain declaration back into the "Domains.config" file, drink beer.