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System objects: Require case insensitivity for non-Windows subsystems

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, policy management and security considerations for this policy setting

This policy setting determines whether case insensitivity is enforced for all subsystems. The Microsoft Win32 subsystem is not case sensitive; however, the kernel supports case sensitivity for other subsystems, such as Portable Operating System Interface for UNIX (POSIX). Enabling this policy setting enforces case insensitivity for all directory objects, symbolic links, and input/output (I/O) objects, including file objects. Disabling this policy setting does not allow the Win32 subsystem to become case sensitive.

Because Windows is case insensitive but the POSIX subsystem will support case sensitivity, if this policy setting is not enforced, it is possible for a user of that subsystem to create a file with the same name as another file but with a different mix of capital letters. That might confuse users when they try to access these files by using normal Win32 tools, because only one of the files will be available.

  • Enabled

    Case insensitivity is enforced for all directory objects, symbolic links, and IO objects, including file objects.

  • Disabled

    Will not allow the Win32 subsystem to become case sensitive.

  • Not defined

  1. Set this policy to Enabled. All subsystems will be forced to observe case insensitivity. However, this might confuse users who are familiar with one of the UNIX-based operating systems and are used to a case sensitive operating system.

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 policy on 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 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.

Because Windows is case insensitive but the POSIX subsystem supports case sensitivity, failure to enable this policy setting makes it possible for a user of that subsystem to create a file with the same name as another file but with a different mix of uppercase and lowercase letters. Such a situation could potentially confuse users when they try to access such files from normal Win32 tools because only one of the files is available.

Enable the System objects: Require case insensitivity for non-Windows subsystems setting.

All subsystems are forced to observe case insensitivity. This configuration may confuse users who are familiar with any UNIX-based operating systems that are case sensitive.

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