Difference between !, !! and * in /etc/shadow

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So this week at work we encountered something strange in the /etc/shadow file. My Co- Worker and me had an almost identical setup of our accounts on the host, especially regarding the ability to login via password (which was disabled).

But he appeared in the /etc/shadow with a ! in the password field where I (and almost all system accs) had an * in it.

Strangely interesting. Here’s why and how:

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