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Account lockout duration

Published: May 2, 2012

Updated: November 26, 2013

Applies To: Windows 7, Windows 8, Windows Server 2008, Windows Server 2008 R2, Windows Server 2012, Windows Vista

This security policy reference topic for the IT professional describes the best practices, location, values, and security considerations for this policy setting.

The Account lockout duration policy setting determines the number of minutes that a locked-out account remains locked out before automatically becoming unlocked. The available range is from 1 through 99,999 minutes. A value of 0 specifies that the account will be locked out until an administrator explicitly unlocks it. If Account lockout threshold is set to a number greater than zero, Account lockout duration must be greater than or equal to the value of Reset account lockout counter after.

This policy setting is dependent on the Account lockout threshold policy setting that is defined, and it must be greater than or equal to the value specified for the Reset lockout counter after policy setting.

This policy setting is supported on versions of Windows that are designated in the Applies To list. It can be edited by using the Group Policy Management snap-in (gpmc.msc).

  • A user-defined number of minutes from 0 through 99,999

  • Not defined

If Account lockout threshold is configured, after the specified number of failed attempts, the account will be locked out. If the Account lockout duration is set to 0, the account will remain locked until an administrator unlocks it manually.

To specify that the account will never be locked out, set the value to 0. To configure the value for this policy setting so that it never automatically unlocks the account might seem like a good idea; however, doing so can increase the number of requests that your organization’s Help Desk receives to unlock accounts that were locked by mistake.

GPO_name \Computer Configuration\Windows Settings\Security Settings\Account Policies\Password Policy

The following table lists the actual and effective default policy values for the most recent supported versions of Windows. Default values are also listed on the policy’s property page.

 

Server type or Group Policy Object (GPO) Default value

Default domain policy

Not defined

Default domain controller policy

Not defined

Stand-alone server default settings

Not applicable

Domain controller effective default settings

Not defined

Member server effective default settings

Not defined

Client computer effective default settings

Not applicable

There are no differences in the way this policy setting works between supported versions of Windows.

More than a few unsuccessful password submissions during an attempt to log on to a computer might represent an attacker's attempts to determine an account password by trial and error. The Windows and Windows Server operating systems can track logon attempts, and you can configure the operating system to disable the account for a preset period of time after a specified number of failed attempts. Account lockout policy settings control the threshold for this response and what action to take after the threshold is reached.

A denial-of-service (DoS) condition can be created if an attacker abuses the Account lockout threshold policy setting and repeatedly attempts to log on with a specific account. After you configure the Account lockout threshold policy setting, the account will be locked out after the specified number of failed attempts. If you configure the Account lockout duration policy setting to 0, the account remains locked until an administrator unlocks it manually.

Configure the Account lockout duration policy setting to an appropriate value for your environment. To specify that the account will remain locked until an administrator manually unlocks it, configure the value to 0. When the Account lockout duration policy setting is configured to a nonzero value, automated attempts to guess account passwords are delayed for this interval before resuming attempts against a specific account. Using this setting in combination with the Account lockout threshold policy setting makes automated password guessing attempts more difficult.

Configuring the Account lockout duration policy setting to 0 so that accounts cannot be automatically unlocked can increase the number of requests that your organization's Help Desk receives to unlock accounts that were locked by mistake.

See Also

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