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Devices: Prevent users from installing printer drivers

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.

For a computer to print to a network printer, the driver for that network printer must be installed on the local computer. The Devices: Prevent users from installing printer drivers policy setting determines who can install a printer driver as part of adding a network printer. When you set the value to Enabled, only Administrators and Power Users can install a printer driver as part of adding a network printer. Setting the value to Disabled allows any user to install a printer driver as part of adding a network printer. This setting prevents unprivileged users from downloading and installing an untrusted printer driver.

This setting has no impact if an administrator has configured a trusted path for downloading drivers. When using trusted paths, the print subsystem attempts to use the trusted path to download the driver. If the trusted path download succeeds, the driver is installed on behalf of any user. If the trusted path download fails, the driver is not installed and the network printer is not added.

Although it might be appropriate in some organizations to allow users to install printer drivers on their own workstations, this is not suitable for servers. Installing a printer driver on a server can cause the system to become less stable. Only administrators should have this user right on servers. A malicious user might deliberately try to damage the system by installing inappropriate printer drivers.

  • Enabled

  • Disabled

  • Not defined

  1. It is advisable to set Devices: Prevent users from installing printer drivers to Enabled. Only users in the Administrative, Power User, or Server Operator groups will be able to install printers on servers. If this policy setting is enabled, but the driver for a network printer already exists on the local computer, users can still add the network printer. This policy setting does not affect a user's ability to add a local printer.

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

The following table lists the actual and effective default values for this policy. Default values are also listed on the policy’s property page.

 

Server type or GPO Default value

Default Domain Policy

Not defined

Default Domain Controller Policy

Not defined

Stand-Alone Server Default Settings

Enabled

DC Effective Default Settings

Enabled

Member Server Effective Default Settings

Enabled

Client Computer Effective Default Settings

Disabled

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 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.

It may be appropriate in some organizations to allow users to install printer drivers on their own workstations. However, you should allow only administrators, not users, to do so on servers because printer driver installation on a server may unintentionally cause the computer to become less stable. A malicious user could install inappropriate printer drivers in a deliberate attempt to damage the computer, or a user might accidentally install malicious software that masquerades as a printer driver.

Enable the Devices: Prevent users from installing printer drivers setting.

Only members of the Administrator, Power Users, or Server Operator groups can install printers on the servers. If this policy setting is enabled but the driver for a network printer already exists on the local computer, users can still add the network printer.

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