Cisco has been forced to reset all its registered users passwords after a hole was discovered in the search engine at its Cisco.com website left them exposed.

The passwords are used by Cisco customers, employees and partners who have registered to get access to special areas of the site or to receive e-mail alerts, said a Cisco spokesman.

Cisco was made aware of the problem early on Monday and corrected it immediately, he said. The company decided the breach was sufficient to require new passwords to be sent to all registered users, who will be unable to access password-protected areas until they receive their them. The company could not say how long it will take to send out all of the new passwords.

Cisco said that it do not believe any sensitive data had been compromised as a result of the hole. Noh declined to give further details on the bug, but said it did not relate to any product that Cisco sells. "This isn't a weakness related to a Cisco product or technology," he said.

The embarrassing situation comes just a week after the controversy surrounding security researcher Michael Lynn who has been put under heavy legal restraint by Cisco for detailing a large flaw in Cisco's IOS software, used in approximately a fifth of the world's routers.