Signed and Unsigned Images (Image Authentication) There are two types of images that are used on the Cisco IP Phone 7960 and 7940: signed and unsigned. Image authentication is done through signed binary files. Signed images have a .sbn extension, while unsigned images have a .bin extension.
Image authentication requires that the binary image not be changed prior to being loaded into the phone. Versions prior to 5.x accept unsigned binary files.
Version 5.x and later images accept only signed binary files, which improves security on the Cisco IP Phone 7960 and 7940. However, the use of signed binary files does not allow you to return to an earlier software version. Once a Version 5.0 firmware image is installed, for instance, regardless of protocol, it cannot be replaced with any previous version. The firmware image can be replaced only with another signed image 5.x or later. All versions prior to a Cisco IP Phone 7960 and 7940 Version 5.0 will not load onto the phone after it is installed.
In a previous life it looks like your phone has been upgraded to use authentication files (.sbn)
You will need to load the signed load on to the CUCM TFTP cmterm-7940-7960-sccp.8-1-2.cop.sgn
You are hitting the restriction shown below (as Alex nicely noted +5 "A")
You have 7940's running 5.0.4 trying to go straight to 8.1.2 So you will
need to load an intermediate firmware as a first step.
Before using the Cisco Unified IP Phone 7960G or 7940G with Cisco Unified Communications Manager release 7.1 or earlier, you must install the latest firmware on all Cisco Unified Communications Manager servers in the cluster.
Note You cannot upgrade to firmware release 8.1(2) directly from firmware release 8.0(10) or an earlier release. You have to upgrade to firmware release 8.1(1) first, then upgrade from release 8.1(1) to release 8.1(2).
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