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User Account Control: Switch to the secure desktop when prompting for elevation

Published: November 15, 2012

Updated: November 15, 2012

Applies To: Windows 7, Windows 8, Windows 8.1, Windows Server 2003, Windows Server 2008, Windows Server 2008 R2, Windows Server 2012, Windows Server 2012 R2, Windows Vista, Windows XP



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

This policy setting determines whether the elevation request prompts on the interactive user desktop or on the secure desktop.

The secure desktop presents the logon UI and restricts functionality and access to the system until the logon requirements are satisfied.

The secure desktop’s primary difference from the user desktop is that only trusted processes running as SYSTEM are allowed to run here (that is, nothing is running at the user’s privilege level). The path to get to the secure desktop from the user desktop must also be trusted through the entire chain.

  • Enabled

    All elevation requests by default go to the secure desktop.

  • Disabled

    All elevation requests go to the interactive user desktop.

  1. Enable the User Account Control: Switch to the secure desktop when prompting for elevation setting. The secure desktop helps protect against input and output spoofing by presenting the credentials dialog box in a protected section of memory that is accessible only by trusted system processes.

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

Enabled

There are no differences in this security policy between operating systems beginning with Windows Vista.

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 has no impact of Windows operating systems earlier than Windows Vista.

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.

Elevation prompt dialog boxes can be spoofed, causing users to disclose their passwords to malicious software. Mouse cursors can be spoofed by hiding the real cursor and replacing it with an offset so the cursor is actually pointing to the Allow button.

Enable the User Account Control: Switch to the secure desktop when prompting for elevation setting. The secure desktop helps protect against input and output spoofing by presenting the credentials dialog box in a protected section of memory that is accessible only by trusted system processes.

None. This is the default configuration.

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