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Managing Security in Windows 7 : Security Policies (part 2) - Local Policies

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6/10/2011 5:13:56 PM

3. Local Policies

The Local Policies node includes three nodes that contain several security settings:

  • Audit Policy

  • User Rights Assignment

  • Security Options


3.1. Audit Policies

Audit Policies can be set to ensure that different categories of auditable events are logged. When they are configured, these events are logged in the Security log of Event Viewer.

Figure 5 shows the Audit Policy node with the Audit Object Access setting opened. Notice that for any of these settings, you can select Success, Failure, or both. Each of the Audit Policy settings has a detailed explanation that can be viewed in the Explain tab.

Figure 5. Configuring success and failure auditing for object access events

NOTE

More advanced auditing is available in Windows 7 and Windows Server 2008 R2. If you're interested in these advanced capabilities, check out this TechNet article: http://technet.microsoft.com/library/dd772712.aspx.

You can modify the Audit Policy to log events in the following categories:


Audit Account Logon Events

When enabled, this setting logs each time a computer validates an account's credentials. The accounts can be validated using Active Directory in a domain or the local Security Accounts Manager on a local computer.


Audit Account Management

Enable this setting if you want to log any time a user account or group is created, changed, or deleted. It will also log if a user account is renamed, disabled, or enabled. Last, it will log when passwords are set or changed.


Audit Directory Service Access

This setting applies only to Active Directory objects. When enabled, it allows auditing to occur for any objects, such as OUs, users, groups, computers, and more.


Audit Logon Events

Each time a user attempts to log on or log off a computer, a logon event can be generated.


Audit Policy Change

When this setting is enabled, any changes to the user rights assignment policy, audit policy, account policy, or trust policy can be logged. As with all the settings, both success and failure events can be selected.


Audit Privilege Use

When a user executes a right, it is also referred to as using a privilege. This setting triggers log entries for the use of most user rights. However, a few commonly used rights aren't logged by default to avoid filling up the Security log. If you want to log all events, you can modify the Registry, as described in the Explain tab of this setting.


Audit Process Tracking

Software developers may sometimes use this to track process-related events. It can be useful during the debugging process of a new application.


Audit System Events

System events include changing the system time, startups and shutdowns, loss of audited events because of an auditing system failure, and when the Security log exceeds the configured warning threshold.


Audit Object Access

When this setting is enabled, auditing can be enabled for access to any non–Active Directory objects such as files, folders, and printers. It's important to realize that just enabling this setting will not turn on auditing for all files, folders, and printers within the scope of the policy. Instead, you must also go to the object and enable auditing. This is demonstrated in Exercise 2.

As an example of object access, assume that you want to audit anytime anyone deletes or even tries to delete a file in a folder named Data. You would first enable Audit Object Access as part of the Audit Policy. You would then go to the Data folder and enable auditing on the folder.

Figure 6 shows the Auditing tab on a folder named Data. When Audit Object Access is enabled, and auditing is also enabled on the object as shown in the figure, then auditing will occur for objects in the folder.

Figure 6. Configuring auditing for a folder

Notice that only successful and failed attempts to delete objects in the folder are selected. You can select all possible actions, but you should enable auditing only for what you need.

Exercise 2 shows how to enable auditing on individual folders. As a reminder, these settings have an impact only if Audit Object Access has been enabled in the Audit Policy. If Audit Object Access isn't enabled, the settings in the exercise will not apply.

Exercise: Enabling Audit Object Access on a Resource

  1. Launch Windows Explorer by clicking Start => Computer.

  2. Browse to the C: drive, and right-click a folder that you want to audit.

  3. Select the Security tab. Click Advanced.

  4. Select the Auditing tab. If prompted by UAC to view the auditing properties, click Continue.

  5. When the Auditing screen appears, click Add.

  6. Add the user or group that you want to audit. If you want to audit all users, enter Everyone. Click OK.

  7. Select the accesses you want to audit. For example, if you want to audit all successful and failed attempts to delete files, click Successful and Failed for Delete. Click OK four times to return to Windows Explorer.


3.2. User Rights Assignment

The User Rights Assignment node includes several Group Policy settings that you can use to control rights and privileges of different users. This node is within the Local Policies node.

Because rights are assigned to users or groups, these settings are configured a little differently. When a setting is enabled, you must add the groups that will be assigned the right.

Figure 7 shows the Group Policy Management Editor with the Allow Log On Locally right setting opened. This right has been defined and granted to the Administrators group and the G_ITAdmins group.

Figure 7. Granting the Allow Log On Locally right

By default, a regular user in the domain is allowed to log on to any computer in the domain except for domain controllers. When this setting is configured as shown, only users in the defined groups will be able to log on to systems within the scope of the GPO.

Here are some other rights that can be assigned via this node:


Access This Computer From The Network

Normally, any user (accept the Guest account) can access a computer over the network. This right allows you to restrict network access to specific users or groups.

NOTE

Several elements must be in place to allow users to access resources over the network. For example, in order for a user to access a share, the share must have been created and the user must have permissions. Any existing firewalls must be configured to allow the access. Last, the user right must be granted.


Add Workstations To Domain

Regular users are allowed to add up to 10 computer accounts to a domain. This right can be granted to allow a user to add an unlimited number of accounts. For example, if a technician regularly sets up computers for end users, you can grant this right. Since accounts are created in Active Directory, which is located on a domain controller, this setting must be configured on a GPO that applies to domain controllers, such as the Default Domain Controllers policy.


Allow Log On Through Remote

Desktop Services This right is normally granted to the Administrators group and the Remote Desktop Users group. You would normally add users to the Remote Desktop Users group to grant this right, but you can also modify this setting.


Change The System Time

This right is granted only to users in the Administrators group. As a reminder, Kerberos requires all computers to be within five minutes of each other, and a computer will synchronize with a domain controller when it authenticates. If this right is granted, users have the potential to change the time, preventing them from accessing any domain resources.


Change The Time Zone

This right is granted to any regular user. If a user changes the time zone, it will affect the time displayed to the user but it doesn't affect the system time. In other words, if a user accidentally changes the time zone, it won't affect his access to domain resources.


Deny Access To This Computer From The Network

This right is assigned to the Guest account by default. It overrides the Access This Computer From The Network policy. In other words, you can use this policy to restrict users or groups from accessing a computer without modifying the Access This Computer From The Network policy.


Manage Auditing And Security Log

This right is assigned to administrators by default. It allows the granted user the ability to enable auditing on any objects (such as files and folders) and also to view, clear, and manipulate the Security log.


Take Ownership Of Files Or Other Objects

This right is assigned to administrators by default. It allows an administrator to take ownership of an object. The owner can modify the permissions and grant access to any other users.


Shut Down The System

Regular users are granted this right for workstations. Only the Administrators and Backup Operators groups are granted the right for servers. On domain controllers, this right is granted to the Administrators, Backup Operators, Server Operators, and Print Operators groups.

3.3. Security Options

The Security Options node includes several settings directly related to security.

Some of the miscellaneous settings are as follows:


Accounts: Administrator Account Status

This setting can be used to disable the local Administrator account. This can prevent an attacker from accessing this account. Other domain groups can be added to the local Administrators group for administrative access.


Accounts: Rename Administrator Account

This can used to change the name of the Administrator account for all computers in the scope of the GPO. This can make it more difficult for attackers to guess the password. However, it does not change the SID of the Administrator account, which is widely known by attackers.


Devices: Allowed To Format And Eject Removable Media

You can enable this so that only administrators, administrators and power users, or administrators and interactive users are allowed to format and eject removable media. An interactive user is any user who is currently logged on.

Shutdown: Clear Virtual Memory Pagefile

In some situations, sensitive data can be saved in the pagefile. If the system is booted using another operating system, data in the pagefile may be viewed. This setting can be used to ensure the pagefile is cleared and that sensitive data isn't saved and available.

Several additional settings in the Security Options node are associated with changes in NTLM and changes in Kerberos. These settings are covered in the following subsections.

3.3.1. Changes in NTLM Authentication Security Settings in Windows 7

New Technology LAN Manager (NTLM) and NTLMv2 are authentication protocols used within Microsoft networks. NTLMv2 can be used with the Security Support Provider (SSP) to increase the security in Windows 7 and Windows Server 2008 R2. It can also be used with 128-bit encryption.

Although NTLMv2 has been supported since NT 4.0 SP4, 128-bit support is newer. It has been more common to use 40-bit or 56-bit encryption. New installations of Windows 7 use 128-bit encryption by default. If Windows 7 is upgraded from an earlier Windows version, it will use the existing setting.

Because 128-bit security is the default for new installations of Windows 7, some client or server applications may not work for new installations if they're using 40-bit or 56-bit encryption for NTLM. Two new settings within the Security Options node can be used to assist in this scenario:

  • Network Security: Minimum Session Security For NTLM SSP Based (Including Secure RPC) Clients

  • Network Security: Minimum Session Security For NTLM SSP Based (Including Secure RPC) Servers

Figure 8 shows the choices for both of these settings. When configured as shown in Figure 11.10, connections can be refused if the other connection can't negotiate both NTLMv2 session security and 128-bit encryption. The same settings are available for both client and server applications.

Figure 8. Network Security: Minimum Session Security For NTLM SSP

If you need to support older applications using weaker encryption with 40 or 56 bits, you can deselect Require 128-bit Encryption. Windows 7 will then negotiate the weaker encryption used by the application.

3.3.2. Changes in Kerberos Authentication in Windows 7

Data Encryption Standard (DES) cryptography has been largely replaced with the newer Advanced Encryption Standard (AES) in most applications that use cryptography. It isn't just that Microsoft has replaced DES with AES, but it's the case anywhere cryptography is used. DES has been cracked, and AES is a strong, efficient standard.

In Windows 7, the older DES cipher suites are disabled by default. These two suites are DES-CBC-MD5 and DES-CBC-CRC. The following stronger cipher suites are enabled by default:

  • AES256-CTS-HMAC-SHA1-96

  • AES128-CTS-HMAC-SHA1-96

  • RC4-HMAC

However, if you need to enable DES support for Windows 7 clients, you can do so. The setting that needs to be modified is Network Security: Configure Encryption Types Allowed For Kerberos.

The most common reason to enable DES is for interoperability with UNIX or Linux systems using DES.


Figure 9 shows this setting. When you define the policy settings, you can enable all of the encryption types that you want to allow.

Figure 9. Configure Encryption Types Allowed For Kerberos

Windows 7 also supports elliptic curve cryptography (ECC) for smart cards that use X.509 certificates. Nothing needs to be changed in Windows 7 to use ECC with smart cards. As long as the smart cards and the smart card readers support ECC, they will work with Windows 7.
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- Group Policy and the GPMC (part 1) - Enabling a GPO Setting & Applying Multiple GPOs
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