Windows Windows Server

Password Policy: How to Create via GPO with Group Policy Object

Password Rules
Creating Password Policy Via GPO

With man-in-the-middle activities constantly on the rise worldwide, it’s more important than ever for businesses to have a firm password policy in place. Hackers frequently gain access to corporate networks by impersonating legitimate users or administrators, resulting in security incidents and compliance failures. You can also read about Windows Active Directory Administrative tools Shortcut command Keys, and how to set Desktop Wallpaper, Prevent access to Registry Editing tools, enable Screen Saver Timeout, and Password Protect the Screensaver via Group Policy.

We will look at how to create and maintain a solid and effective Active Directory password policy in this article via Group Policy. Before we move further, let’s briefly take a look at Group Policy and Group Policy Object (GPO). You can also read about how to enable BitLocker without Compatible TPM: How to enable Bitlocker Pre-Boot authentication password via the Group Policy.

First and foremost, what exactly is Group Policy? Group Policy is a Windows feature that enables a wide range of advanced settings that network administrators can use to control the working environment of Active Directory users and computer accounts. It essentially provides a centralized location for administrators to manage and configure the settings of operating systems, applications, and users.

When used correctly, Group Policies can help you increase the security of user computers and defend against both insider threats and external attacks. Let’ understand what Group Policy Object is:

A Group Policy Object (GPO) is a collection of settings created with the Group Policy Editor in the Microsoft Management Console (MMC). GPOs can be linked to single or multiple Active Directory containers, such as sites, domains, or organizational units (OUs). Users can use the MMC to create GPOs that define registry-based policies, security options, software installation, and other features.

Various Techniques Hackers can Use to Access Your Corporate Passwords

Hackers can gain access to your organization’s internal passwords through the following ways:

  1. Password spraying attack: Hackers enter a known username or other account identifier and attempt several common passwords to see which ones work.
  2. Credential stuffing attack: In some attempts, Automated tools are used by hackers to enter lists of credentials against various company login portals.
  3. Brute force attack: Hackers use programs to try out different password combinations until they find the right one.
  4. Spidering: Malicious users gather as much information as they can about a hacking target before attempting password combinations generated with that information.
  5. Dictionary attack: This is a type of brute force attack in which words from the dictionary are used as possible passwords.

How to Create Active Directory Password Policy via GPO

Organizations require a strong Active Directory password policy to defend against the various attacks techniques stated above.

Password policies define various rules for password creation, such as minimum length, complexity details (such as whether a special character is required), and the length of time the password must be  used before it can be changed.

The Default Domain Policy is a Group Policy Object (GPO) that contains settings that apply to all domain objects. Admins can use the Group Policy Management Console to view and configure a domain password policy (GPMC). Expand the Domains folder, select the domain from which you want to access the policy, and then select Group Policy Objects.

To implement the password policy, take the following steps:

Step 1 – Navigate to the Default Domain Policy folder by searching for Administrative Tools from the search bar.

Password Guidelines
Searching for Admin Tools

Step 2 – Click on Group Policy Management from the list of items available

Clicking on Group Management

Step 3 – From the Group Policy Management Editor -> Domain Name->Default Domain Policy->Windows Setting->Security Settings->Account Policies

Configuring Password Guidelines via GPO

Step 4 – Click on Password Policies and access various password policies as shown below:

Define various Password Guidelines

Here, we are going to define the policy for minimum password length. As we can see from the screenshot above, the default minimum password length is 7 characters.

To do so, double-click on the minimum password length and change the number to your desired character. Note: the maximum number for setting minimum password length can’t go beyond 14 characters.

Minimum Password Rules Length Set to 14 Characters

After applying it and pressing Ok, the minimum password length will be changed to 14 characters.

Minimum character changed to 14

You can go ahead and define password policies for other options available to you based on your organizational requirements.

Lastly, you can access your domain password policy alternatively, by executing the following PowerShell command:

Accessing domain via PowerShell

I hope you found this blog post helpful. Please let me know in the comment session if you have any questions.

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