Allow log on through Remote Desktop Services
Updated: May 8, 2013
Applies To: Windows Vista, Windows Server 2008, Windows 7, Windows 8.1, Windows Server 2008 R2, Windows Server 2012 R2, Windows Server 2012, Windows 8
This security policy reference topic for the IT professional describes the best practices, location, values, policy management, and security considerations for this policy.
This policy setting determines which users or groups can access the logon screen of a remote computer through a Remote Desktop Services connection. It is possible for a user to establish a Remote Desktop Services connection to a particular server but not be able to log on to the console of that same server.
This policy setting is supported on versions of Windows that are designated in the Applies To list at the beginning of this topic.
User-defined list of accounts
To control who can open a Remote Desktop Services connection and log on to the computer, add users to or remove users from the Remote Desktop Users group.
GPO_name\Computer Configuration\Windows Settings\Security Settings\Local Policies\User Rights Assignment
By default, members of the Administrators group have this right on domain controllers, workstations, and servers. The Remote Desktops Users group also has this right on workstations and servers.
The following table lists the actual and effective default policy values for the most recent supported versions of Windows. Default values are also listed on the policy’s property page.
Server type or GPO
Default Domain Policy
Default Domain Controller Policy
Stand-Alone Server Default Settings
Remote Desktop Users
Domain Controller Effective Default Settings
Member Server Effective Default Settings
Remote Desktop Users
Client Computer Effective Default Settings
Remote Desktop Users
There have been no changes to the settings and effects of this user right policy setting since it was introduced in Windows Server 2003 and Windows XP. However, the policy setting name was changed in Windows Server 2008 R2 and Windows 7 from Allow log on through Terminal Services.
This section describes different features and tools available to help you manage this policy.
To use RDS to successfully log on to a remote computer, the user or group must be a member of the Remote Desktop Users or Administrators group and be granted the Allow log on through Remote Desktop Services right. It is possible for a user to establish an RDS session to a particular server, but not be able to log on to the console of that same server.
To exclude users or groups, you can assign the Deny log on through Remote Desktop Services user right to those users or groups. However, be careful when you use this method because you could create conflicts for legitimate users or groups that have been allowed access through the Allow log on through Remote Desktop Services user right.
For more information, see Deny log on through Remote Desktop Services.
A restart of the computer is not required for this policy setting to be effective.
Any change to the user rights assignment for an account becomes effective the next time the owner of the account logs on.
Group Policy settings are applied through GPOs in the following order, which will overwrite settings on the local computer at the next Group Policy update:
Local policy settings
Site policy settings
Domain policy settings
OU policy settings
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.
Any account with the Allow log on through Remote Desktop Services user right can log on to the remote console of the computer. If you do not restrict this user right to legitimate users who must log on to the console of the computer, unauthorized users could download and run malicious software to elevate their privileges.
For domain controllers, assign the Allow log on through Remote Desktop Services user right only to the Administrators group. For other server roles and end-user computers, add the Remote Desktop Users group. For servers that have the Remote Desktop (RD) Session Host role service enabled and do not run in Application Server mode, ensure that only authorized IT personnel who must manage the computers remotely belong to these groups.
For RD Session Host servers that run in Application Server mode, ensure that only users who require access to the server have accounts that belong to the Remote Desktop Users group because this built-in group has this logon right by default.
Alternatively, you can assign the Deny log on through Remote Desktop Services user right to groups such as Account Operators, Server Operators, and Guests. However, be careful when you use this method because you could block access to legitimate administrators who also belong to a group that has the Deny log on through Remote Desktop Services user right.
Removal of the Allow log on through Remote Desktop Services user right from other groups (or membership changes in these default groups) could limit the abilities of users who perform specific administrative roles in your environment. You should confirm that delegated activities are not adversely affected.