This question is in reference to @SwiftOnSecurity's Twitter thread: https://twitter.com/SwiftOnSecurity/status/655208224572882944

After reading through the thread, I still don't quite get why you would want to disable network login for local accounts.

So here is what I'm thinking, please correct me where I am wrong:

Say I have an AD set up with a DC and multiple clients. One of the clients is John. So in the morning, John goes into work, and logs into his desktop PC with the AD credentials. At noon, John heads out for a meeting, and 'locks' his computer (windows + L). He then needs to connect to his PC back at the office using his personal laptop remotely (via RDP or something). However, using this new policy, he won't be able to do so.

The explanation that Securitay gives is that the passwords are not salted. However, how would an attacker gain access in this case? On which end is the password not salted? Or is the situation I have in my mind completely unrelated to what she is trying to say? If this is the case, what is she actually trying to say?

  • I'm not sure what the described issue is, but in your scenario none of the used accounts are local accounts. Right? – Martijn Heemels Oct 17 '15 at 16:09
  • 4
    Not for nothing, and no offense, but why don't you ask the author of the post? "Someone on the internet said something. Let me ask someone else on the internet what the first person meant." – joeqwerty Oct 17 '15 at 16:11
  • 4
    @joeqwerty the author is busy performing and doesn't reply often. – tedder42 Oct 21 '15 at 0:16
  • 1
    @joeqwerty She's on her 1989 tour so she's pretty busy... – The Man Oct 21 '15 at 9:14
  • Is it really necessary to disable network login for local accounts? Isn't it disabled by Remote UAC by default? – chris Nov 1 '17 at 19:59

Allowing network logon for local accounts is dangerous and a poor security practice. For administrators group members, I would actually characterize it as negligence. It enables lateral movement, and is difficult to detect and audit due to the account logons are not logged centrally (on the domain controllers).

To mitigate this threat, Microsoft actually created two new builtin security identifiers to add to the "Deny access to this computer from the network" user right:

S-1-5-113: NT AUTHORITY\Local account  
S-1-5-114: NT AUTHORITY\Local account and member of Administrators group  



  • Thank you for answering. So let me understand it correctly: – The Man Oct 21 '15 at 14:37
  • Let's say I have a DC (SERVER1) with RDP enabled. On my personal laptop (not connected to the AD domain), I have the same Administrator username and password. So when I want to manage SERVER1, I connect to it via RDP from my personal laptop. However, one day, my personal laptop was stolen, and the thief was able to access my laptop with admin permissions. From there, he can then see the local user's password hash, and use the same hash to connect to the server. Would this scenario be correct then? – The Man Oct 21 '15 at 14:49
  • However (if this scenario is correct), this raised more questions. Wouldn't there be no risk at all if I had simply used different passwords for different users? Also, how will having network logon enabled matter in this case? Is it just because the attacker can gain access and configure it without having physical access? – The Man Oct 21 '15 at 14:52
  • 2
    Yes to both, but I doubt an auditor would accept having different passwords as a sufficient compensating control for this risk. Having local administrator accounts enabled for network logon is the kind of lateral movement that sinks your battleship when you are attacked. Local administrator accounts should should only be for local access and never over the network. – Greg Askew Oct 21 '15 at 15:42
  • Just to clarify a few things. By yes to both, you mean the newest scenario I suggested is correct, right? Also, how bad would things be if network logons are enabled? I ask this as I still can't see how enabling network logon would allow attackers access. Also, if I disable network logon, is having physical access the only way of interfacing/configuring the server? – The Man Oct 21 '15 at 16:07

No, your example scenario is incorrect. If he's using AD credentials to log in, everything's fine. The issue is with local accounts, that is, ones that are created on, and exist only on, individual computers. For example, .\Administrator, but this applies to any account in the computer's domain (COMPUTERNAME\USERNAME). The security risk ", AIUI, is that if local accounts (e.g. the local Administrator) share the same password across multiple machines, it's possible to extract the password hashes from the computer, and reuse the hashes in some cases to (as a malware infestation or other attacker) move laterally between computers.

  • Thank you for responding. However, can you give an example scenario on how security may be compromised? – The Man Oct 21 '15 at 14:30
  • Contoso uses a fixed local admin password. Contoso doesn't prevent network login for local accounts. User gets some kind of malware, that gets to the point where it runs with admin rights. It extracts the password hashes. If I'm not mistaken, there are ways to use a hash for authentication in some circumstances. Or maybe the hash is easy to crack, or on a rainbow table, or something. The malware then connects to all machines and spreads to them. Not only that, but it's hard to find out what's going on, because this isn't being logged at the DC or anywhere central, just on the individual PCs. – Micha Oct 22 '15 at 17:52

Your Answer

By clicking “Post Your Answer”, you agree to our terms of service, privacy policy and cookie policy

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.