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On GeoServer 2.24.2 I want to update the default "XML User Group Service default" to use "Digest" password encryption and to recode the existing passwords as I set that setting.

In the GUI one can navigate "Security" -> "User, Groups, and Roles" -> "default":

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I do not want to do this via the Web-UI but using the REST API. I found no suitable endpoint on https://docs.geoserver.org/2.24.x/en/user/rest/index.html

How can I do this?

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According to documentation it should be possible to upload users with password. If the password encoding setting is digest it will surely encode the passwords. So with that you can probably roundtrip users using the users api: https://docs.geoserver.org/main/en/user/rest/api/userrole.html

If there is no api for changing password encoding you can always build your own that edits the configuration files. In this case "data_dir\security\usergroup\default\config.xml" and probably restart geoserver.

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