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Interactive logon: Display user information when the session is locked

Published: November 15, 2012

Updated: November 15, 2012

Applies To: Windows 7, Windows Server 2003, Windows Server 2008, Windows Server 2008 R2, Windows Vista, Windows XP

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

When a session is locked in a Windows operating system (meaning the user at the computer pressed CTRL+ALT+DEL and the Secure Desktop is displayed), user information is displayed. By default, this information is in the form of <user name> is logged on. The displayed user name is the user’s full name as set on the Properties page for that user. These settings do not apply to the logon tiles, which are displayed on the desktop after using the Switch User feature. The information that is displayed can be changed to meet your security requirements using the following possible values.

  • User display name, domain and user names

    If this is a local logon, the user’s full name is displayed on the Secure Desktop. If it is a domain logon, the user’s domain and user’s account name is displayed.

  • User display name only

    The name of the user who locked the session is displayed on the Secure Desktop as the user’s full name.

  • Do not display user information

    No names are displayed on the Secure Desktop, but user’s full names will be displayed on the Switch user desktop.

  • Blank.

    Default setting. This translates to “Not defined,” but it will display the user’s full name in the same manner as the User display name, domain and user names option. When an option is set, you cannot reset this policy to blank, or not defined.

Your implementation of this policy depends on your security requirements for displayed logon information. If you have running computers that store sensitive data, with monitors displayed in unsecured locations, or if you have computers with sensitive data that are remotely accessed, revealing logged on user’s full names or domain account names might contradict your overall security policy.

Depending on your security policy, you might also want to enable the Interactive logon: Do not display last user name policy, which will prevent the Windows operating system from displaying the logon name and logon tile of the last user to logon.

GPO_name \Computer Configuration\Windows Settings\Security Settings\Local Policies\Security Options

 

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 defined

Domain controller effective default settings

User display name, domain and user names

Member server effective default settings

User display name, domain and user names

Effective GPO default settings on client computers

User display name, domain and user names

There are no differences in this policy between operating systems beginning with Windows Server 2003.

This section describes features and tools that are available to help you manage this policy.

None. Changes to this policy become effective without a computer restart when they are saved locally or distributed through Group Policy.

This policy setting can be configured by using the Group Policy Management Console (GPMC) to be distributed through Group Policy Objects (GPOs). If this policy is not contained in a distributed GPO, this policy can be configured on the local computer by using the Local Security Policy snap-in.

This section describes how an attacker might exploit a feature or its configuration, how to implement the countermeasure, and the possible negative consequences of countermeasure implementation.

When a computer displays the Secure Desktop in an unsecured area, certain user information can be readily available to anyone looking at the monitor, either physically or through a remote connection. The displayed user information could include the domain user account name or the full name of the user who locked the session or who had logged on last.

Enabling this policy setting allows the operating system to hide certain user information from being displayed on the Secure Desktop (after the computer has been booted or when the session has been locked by using CTRL+ALT+DEL). However, user information is displayed if the Switch user feature is used so that the logon tiles are displayed for each logged on user.

You might also want to enable the Interactive logon: Do not display last user name policy, which will prevent the Windows operating system from displaying the logon name and logon tile of the last user to logon.

If you do not enable this policy, the effect will be the same as enabling the policy and selecting the User display name, domain and user names option.

If the policy is enabled and set to Do not display user information, an observer cannot see who is logged onto the Secure Desktop, but the logon tile is still present if the Interactive logon: Do not display last user name policy is not enabled. Depending on how the logon tiles are configured, they could provide visual clues as to who is logged on. In addition, if the Interactive logon: Do not display last user name policy is not enabled, then the Switch user feature will show user information.

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