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Interactive logon: Require Domain Controller authentication to unlock workstation

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.

Unlocking a locked computer requires logon information. For domain accounts, the Interactive logon: Require Domain Controller authentication to unlock workstation policy setting determines whether it is necessary to contact a domain controller to unlock a computer. Enabling this policy setting requires a domain controller to authenticate the domain account that is being used to unlock the computer. Disabling this policy setting allows a user to unlock the computer without the computer verifying the logon information with a domain controller. However, if Interactive logon: Number of previous logons to cache (in case domain controller is not available) is set to a value greater than zero, the user's cached credentials will be used to unlock the system.

The computer caches (locally in memory) the credentials of any users who have been authenticated. The computer uses these cached credentials to authenticate anyone who attempts to unlock the console.

When cached credentials are used, any changes that have recently been made to the account (such as user rights assignments, account lockout, or the account being disabled) are not considered or applied after this authentication process. This means not only that user rights are not updated, but more importantly that disabled accounts are still able to unlock the console of the system.

It is advisable to set Interactive logon: Require Domain Controller authentication to unlock workstation to Enabled and set Interactive logon: Number of previous logons to cache (in case domain controller is not available) to 0. When the console of a computer is locked by a user or automatically by a screen saver time-out, the console can only be unlocked if the user is able to reauthenticate to the domain controller. If no domain controller is available, users cannot unlock their workstations.

  • Enabled

  • Disabled

  • Not defined

  1. Set Interactive logon: Require Domain Controller authentication to unlock workstation to Enabled and set Interactive logon: Number of previous logons to cache (in case domain controller is not available) to 0. When the console of a computer is locked by a user or automatically by a screen saver time-out, the console can only be unlocked if the user is able to reauthenticate to the domain controller. If no domain controller is available, users cannot unlock their workstations.

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

Disabled

DC Effective Default Settings

Disabled

Member Server Effective Default Settings

Disabled

Client Computer Effective Default Settings

Disabled

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.

By default, the computer caches locally in memory the credentials of any users who are authenticated. The computer uses these cached credentials to authenticate anyone who attempts to unlock the console. When cached credentials are used, any changes that have recently been made to the account—such as user rights assignments, account lockout, or the account being disabled—are not considered or applied after the account is authenticated. User privileges are not updated, and disabled accounts are still able to unlock the console of the computer.

Configure the Interactive logon: Require Domain Controller authentication to unlock workstation setting to Enabled and configure the Interactive logon: Number of previous logons to cache (in case domain controller is not available) setting to 0.

When the console on a computer is locked by a user or automatically by a screen-saver timeout, the console can be unlocked only if the user can reauthenticate to the domain controller. If no domain controller is available, users cannot unlock their workstations. If you configure the Interactive logon: Number of previous logons to cache (in case domain controller is not available) setting to 0, users whose domain controllers are unavailable (such as mobile or remote users) cannot log on.

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