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the user desktop grayed out in the background), which is the default, and it offers protection against malware UAC hijacking and emulations If it is disabled, UAC elevation prompts will display on the normal user desktop User Account Control: Virtualize le and Registry write failures to per-user locations [Default Enabled] With this feature, as discussed in 2, if a process tries to write to an area of the Registry or le system that is considered secure, such as %program les% or %windir%, then instead of failing the write request, it is redirected to an area under the user s pro le that allows the application to function This option is enabled by default, and if it is disabled, applications simply fail, as they would have done preVista This is an important setting when you consider that the switch to Vista will see many normal users lose their local administrative rights
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All these settings are in the Registry under HKEY_LOCAL_ MACHINE\SOFTWARE\Microsoft\Windows\CurrentVersion\Policies\Sys tem For example, to disable UAC, set EnableLUA to 0 and reboot Set the elevation prompt for administrators via ConsentPromptBehaviorAdmin, where 2 prompts for consent and 1 prompts for credentials, while 0 does not prompt at all It s not a good idea to modify the Registry directly If you need to change settings for one machine, use gpeditmsc to edit the local computer policy, and if you need to change settings for multiple machines, use a GPO to link to a domain or an OU (or even a site) that contains the computers that should use the new UAC con guration Also at a local machine level, you can control whether UAC is enabled or disabled via the User Accounts Control Panel applet and use the Turn User Account Control On or Off link, which allows you to disable or enable UAC at a computer level, as shown in Figure 4-43 Again, this is not recommended There is also a tool in MSCONFIG that you can use to disable and enable UAC, but the command that gets run just modi es the EnableLUA Registry value discussed earlier, so it s no different from using policy or the User Accounts Control Panel applet Remember that you can run any application with the administrative token by typing the application name in the Start menu search area and then right-clicking and selecting Run as Administrator
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FIGURE 4-43 Manual UAC control In short, UAC is a great technology, and sometimes there is a temptation to just turn it off at the rst sign of inconvenience But if you look at the longer-term protection it offers, you see that it s a good idea to use UAC, particularly on your servers, where damage impact could be huge
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SysKey is a utility designed to increase the security of the accounts database by encrypting its content SysKey is enabled by default and cannot be disabled However, by default the key required to decrypt is stored locally on the server If you click the Update button, con gure a password to be entered or store the startup key on a oppy disk that would need to be entered at each system startup, as shown in Figure 4-44 In general, do not tamper with the con guration
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FIGURE 4-44 Con guring SysKey
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Account Policies are a critical area of con guration that is often overlooked and miscon gured As seen in this chapter and as throughout the rest of this book, Microsoft offers huge amounts of security technology, and in most environments, the key to the door is via your username and password, so you need to make sure your passwords are suf ciently complex that they won t be easily guessed or hacked To enforce a certain password standard, use account policies, which are de ned in the Default Domain Policy and are broken into three areas: Password Policy, Account Lockout Policy, and Kerberos Policy These policies apply to all domain accounts, so any user in the domain will be forced to use these settings Password Policy allows the con guration of six key aspects of a password:
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Enforce password history Keeps track of the last 0 to 24 passwords, depending on the con guration By default, on a domain controller, this is set to the maximum of 24 A user cannot change his password to any password stored in the password history Maximum password age The maximum age a password can be before it must be changed A user is prompted when his password is about to expire, and when a password has expired, the user must change the password before logging on By default, this is 42 days Minimum password age The amount of time a password must be set before it can be changed Why might you need this With password history enabled and no minimum password age, a user could just change his password 25 times and get back to the original password because the password history would have deleted the oldest password, which was the original When you force a password to be used for a period of time, such as a day, users can t just change their passwords repeatedly and work around the password history Minimum password length The minimum number of characters the password must be Seven is the default, and it originates the way the LAN Manager hash of a password was stored as two seven-character chunks; it was more secure to have a sevencharacter password than an eight-character password because the last character could easily be broken and might hint at the rest of the password
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