Error: "4 Bad format." in ersecreg.log on Endpoint Protection Manager, clients may intermittently fail to communicate with their manager


Article ID: 155969


Updated On:


Endpoint Protection


Newly installed SEP clients present a green dot in the client side, but don't register in the console.
Even if virus definitions are out of date the client status is green with nothing to report.

From ersecreg.log:
08/24 19:38:26 [6888:4904] 4 Bad format.
08/24 19:38:26 [6888:4904]


This problem happens when SEPMs use a different encryption password (KCS) for client registration than their clients. This is the result of reconfiguring a SEPM using a recovery file with a different KCS value than the one used at the time of the client install. In normal circumstances, all clients will have the same KCS value as their managers. All managers in the local site and any replication partner sites will share the same KCS value. If the KCS values on clients do not match the KCS value on their manager, they will not be able to decrypt the encrypted communications between themselves.


The best solution to this problem depends on the SEPM architecture and which SEPM the incorrect KCS value was introduced from. You must determine where the KCS value was initially changed, and revert the changed KCS value to the original value. If any clients have been updated with the new KCS value, they must be reverted as well by applying the appropriate sylink.xml communications file.

Determine the current client KCS value

Use this process to find the KCS value SEP clients in the environment expect. In a multi-SEPM/multi-site environment, perform this check on at least 1 SEP client connected to each SEPM.

  1. Open the client's sylink.xml file in a text editor (C:\ProgramData\Symantec\Symantec Endpoint Protection\CurrentVersion\Data\Config\sylink.xml by default)
  2. Locate the client's KCS value (Kcs="<32 character hexadecimal value>")

Determine the current SEPM KCS values

This process must be followed on all SEPMs in the local site, and any replication partner sites. The SEPM stores the KCS value in two locations. One location is used by the SEPM client registration module (secreg.dll), the other is used by the SEPM client communications module (secars.dll).

  1. SEPM KCS value
    1. Open the file in a text editor (C:\Program Files (x86)\Symantec\Symantec Endpoint Protection Manager\tomcat\etc by default)
    2. Locate the SEPM's KCS value ("scm.agent.kcs=")
  2. SEPM sylink.xml KCS value
    1. Open one of the SEPMs published sylink.xml files in a text editor (C:\Program Files (x86)\Symantec\Symantec Endpoint Protection Manager\data\outbox\agent\\sylink.xml)
    2. Locate the SEPM's KCS value ("Kcs=")

Compare KCS values

Compare the KCS values on both the sylink.xml and files of the SEPM(s) to the client(s). The steps to fix the mismatch will depend on where the KCS value mismatch was introduced, and the number of SEPMs and SEPM sites in the environment.

single SEPM The KCS values for both the sylink.xml and modules on the SEPM should should match, but the SEP clients will have a different value. You will need to restore the original KCS value to the SEPM
multi-SEPM, single site The sylink.xml and values should only match on 1 SEPM. You will need to restore the original KCS value to this SEPM. The SECREG value on the other SEPM(s) in the site will be the original KCS value for the site.

The sylink.xml and values should only match on 1 SEPM. You will need to restore the original KCS value to this SEPM.

Note: depending on replication schedules and whether or not replication is successful between all sites, some SEPMs may retain the original KCS value in both locations. In this case, you must restore the original KCS value to the SEPM with matching KCS values for sylink.xml and SECREG that do not match the KCS value in the client's sylink.


Revert the KCS value

Once  you've determined which KCS value needs to be restored, and to which SEPM, use the following process to find the correct recovery file containing this KCS value and use the Management Server Configuration Wizard (MSCW) to reconfigure the SEPM with the correct KCS value.

  1. Locate the SEPM recovery files (C:\Program Files (x86)\Symantec\Symantec Endpoint Protection Manager\Server Private Key Backup by default)
  2. Starting with the latest file, extract the file from the .zip and confirm the KCS value ("encryption.password=") until you find a recovery file with the original KCS value
  3. Launch the MSCW
  4. Select Reconfigure the management server, and check Use a recovery file to restore communication with previously deployed clients
  5. Browse for the recovery file identiifed above, and click Next
  6. Review the Site and server configurations and click Next
  7. Confirm the database type, provide the correct username and password for the embedded database, if applicable, and click Next
  8. For SEPMs using a Microsoft SQL Server database, confirm the SQL server settings, provide the correct username and password for the database, and click Next
  9. Uncheck Run LiveUpdate during installation and click Next
  10. Review your Server Data Collection configuration and click Next
  11. After the wizard completes, click Finish, and confirm the KCS values have been updated in the and sylink.xml files in the SEPM's data\outbox\agent folders.
    Note: In complex environments with many groups and locations, the sylink.xml files can take several minutes to publish
  12. Confirm clients are able to register and heartbeat with the SEPM