Home > Articles > Security > Network Security

Secure Authentication Features in Windows XP

  • Print
  • + Share This
Connecting users to your network requires more than plugging in a network cable. In this book chapter, you'll learn the specifics of authentication under Windows XP: the process of verifying the identity of the user attempting to access a computer or other network resource. Find out the inner workings of Windows XP Professional, whether you need total authentication services or interoperability with Windows NT, Windows 2000, and Windows 2003.
This chapter is from the book

This chapter is from the book

Sometimes it is a good idea to be absolutely certain you know who you are dealing with. Authentication is the process by which the identity of a specific entity—a person, a user, or a computer—is verified. Authentication transactions happen in many places, many times a day. Using an ATM card and PIN to withdraw cash from an ATM, providing a driver's license when making a purchase at a home improvement store with a credit card, and presenting a passport when going through customs are common types of authentication. In each of these examples some sort of authority requests proof of identification. This ID verification indicates that the person requesting the transaction is who they say they are. This process is separate from authorization, whereby it is determined that an entity is granted specific rights or permissions. Simply proving identity does not guarantee the desired outcome of the transaction. Once the authority establishes that you are who you say you are, it then attempts to authorize you to complete that transaction: the ATM ensures that you have sufficient funds to cover the requested withdrawal; the cashier contacts the credit card issuer for purchase approval; and the customs agent checks that all necessary paperwork and visas are in place for a traveler to enter or exit a country.

Windows XP Professional, like Windows 2000, provides a sophisticated authentication system, which is examined in this chapter. Specific topics covered here include the mechanics of Windows XP authentication, the log-on process, configuration and management of authentication parameters, and best practices for secure authentication. We cover authorization in detail in Chapter 17, Authorization and Access Control.

Secure Authentication Features in Windows XP

New Features

Because Windows XP is built on a Windows 2000 base, you find that there are a number of familiar secure authentication features. Windows XP, however, goes beyond Windows NT 4.0 and Windows 2000 in a number of ways. Whether you are connected to a domain, configured as a part of a workgroup, or are using a stand-alone computer, you find that authentication is even more manageable than before. Here are some of the biggest changes and additions to authentication processes, management, and configuration:

  • Everyone Group. By default, the Everyone Group no longer includes the Anonymous Group. Previously, the Anonymous Group was granted access to any resource to which the Everyone Group was granted access, even though anonymous users are not required to supply usernames and passwords for authentication.

  • Guest Account. By default, Windows XP workstations not joined to a domain are configured to use Guest only network logons. All users, including anonymous users, accessing resources on a computer from over a network with this default setting, are forced to use the Guest Account for authentication and are subsequently given all the same access rights and privileges as the Guest Account.

  • Service Accounts. Two new service accounts have been added to Windows XP to enhance the granularity of service account access: LocalService for services that run locally, and NetworkService for services that run on the network. The LocalSystem account remains available as well, and is the only account that has Act as part of the operating system rights by default.

  • Blank Passwords. By default, Windows XP workstations that are not part of a domain prevent users with blank passwords from logging on over the network. This is especially helpful for preventing unauthorized access to home workstations connected to the Internet. All blank password access is restricted to local logons only.

  • Password Reset Wizard. Windows XP supplies a recovery mechanism for use in the event a user forgets his or her password. This Wizard creates a disk that can be used to reset a local account password (it cannot be used to reset a domain password). This disk is computer specific so it cannot be used on another workstation, even if the username and password are the same. Others can use this disk without proper authorization to access a local account, so it is a good idea to keep this disk in a safe location.

  • Stored User Names. Windows XP allows a user to store frequently used username and password combinations for access to other resources, such as secured Web sites or computers in an untrusted domain. This information becomes part of the user's profile and can travel around the network with the user if roaming profiles have been enabled.

  • Fast User Switching. Fast user switching allows multiple users of the same computer to log on without shutting down applications that may be in use by another user who is currently logged on to the system. Fast User Switching uses Terminal Services technology to provide this ability. This feature is only available on computers that are not connected to a domain.

As you see from this list, there are quite a few changes to the security and authentication strategy in previous Windows versions. However, Windows XP is interoperable with earlier versions of Windows—from Windows for Workgroups and Windows 9x on up to Windows NT 4.0 and Windows 2000. The management and configuration of secure authentication is covered later in this chapter, with attention given to interoperability issues where required. We now move into a discussion of credentials that Windows XP does support as the first step in gaining a full understanding of the Windows XP authentication process.

  • + Share This
  • 🔖 Save To Your Account

InformIT Promotional Mailings & Special Offers

I would like to receive exclusive offers and hear about products from InformIT and its family of brands. I can unsubscribe at any time.

Overview


Pearson Education, Inc., 221 River Street, Hoboken, New Jersey 07030, (Pearson) presents this site to provide information about products and services that can be purchased through this site.

This privacy notice provides an overview of our commitment to privacy and describes how we collect, protect, use and share personal information collected through this site. Please note that other Pearson websites and online products and services have their own separate privacy policies.

Collection and Use of Information


To conduct business and deliver products and services, Pearson collects and uses personal information in several ways in connection with this site, including:

Questions and Inquiries

For inquiries and questions, we collect the inquiry or question, together with name, contact details (email address, phone number and mailing address) and any other additional information voluntarily submitted to us through a Contact Us form or an email. We use this information to address the inquiry and respond to the question.

Online Store

For orders and purchases placed through our online store on this site, we collect order details, name, institution name and address (if applicable), email address, phone number, shipping and billing addresses, credit/debit card information, shipping options and any instructions. We use this information to complete transactions, fulfill orders, communicate with individuals placing orders or visiting the online store, and for related purposes.

Surveys

Pearson may offer opportunities to provide feedback or participate in surveys, including surveys evaluating Pearson products, services or sites. Participation is voluntary. Pearson collects information requested in the survey questions and uses the information to evaluate, support, maintain and improve products, services or sites, develop new products and services, conduct educational research and for other purposes specified in the survey.

Contests and Drawings

Occasionally, we may sponsor a contest or drawing. Participation is optional. Pearson collects name, contact information and other information specified on the entry form for the contest or drawing to conduct the contest or drawing. Pearson may collect additional personal information from the winners of a contest or drawing in order to award the prize and for tax reporting purposes, as required by law.

Newsletters

If you have elected to receive email newsletters or promotional mailings and special offers but want to unsubscribe, simply email information@informit.com.

Service Announcements

On rare occasions it is necessary to send out a strictly service related announcement. For instance, if our service is temporarily suspended for maintenance we might send users an email. Generally, users may not opt-out of these communications, though they can deactivate their account information. However, these communications are not promotional in nature.

Customer Service

We communicate with users on a regular basis to provide requested services and in regard to issues relating to their account we reply via email or phone in accordance with the users' wishes when a user submits their information through our Contact Us form.

Other Collection and Use of Information


Application and System Logs

Pearson automatically collects log data to help ensure the delivery, availability and security of this site. Log data may include technical information about how a user or visitor connected to this site, such as browser type, type of computer/device, operating system, internet service provider and IP address. We use this information for support purposes and to monitor the health of the site, identify problems, improve service, detect unauthorized access and fraudulent activity, prevent and respond to security incidents and appropriately scale computing resources.

Web Analytics

Pearson may use third party web trend analytical services, including Google Analytics, to collect visitor information, such as IP addresses, browser types, referring pages, pages visited and time spent on a particular site. While these analytical services collect and report information on an anonymous basis, they may use cookies to gather web trend information. The information gathered may enable Pearson (but not the third party web trend services) to link information with application and system log data. Pearson uses this information for system administration and to identify problems, improve service, detect unauthorized access and fraudulent activity, prevent and respond to security incidents, appropriately scale computing resources and otherwise support and deliver this site and its services.

Cookies and Related Technologies

This site uses cookies and similar technologies to personalize content, measure traffic patterns, control security, track use and access of information on this site, and provide interest-based messages and advertising. Users can manage and block the use of cookies through their browser. Disabling or blocking certain cookies may limit the functionality of this site.

Do Not Track

This site currently does not respond to Do Not Track signals.

Security


Pearson uses appropriate physical, administrative and technical security measures to protect personal information from unauthorized access, use and disclosure.

Children


This site is not directed to children under the age of 13.

Marketing


Pearson may send or direct marketing communications to users, provided that

  • Pearson will not use personal information collected or processed as a K-12 school service provider for the purpose of directed or targeted advertising.
  • Such marketing is consistent with applicable law and Pearson's legal obligations.
  • Pearson will not knowingly direct or send marketing communications to an individual who has expressed a preference not to receive marketing.
  • Where required by applicable law, express or implied consent to marketing exists and has not been withdrawn.

Pearson may provide personal information to a third party service provider on a restricted basis to provide marketing solely on behalf of Pearson or an affiliate or customer for whom Pearson is a service provider. Marketing preferences may be changed at any time.

Correcting/Updating Personal Information


If a user's personally identifiable information changes (such as your postal address or email address), we provide a way to correct or update that user's personal data provided to us. This can be done on the Account page. If a user no longer desires our service and desires to delete his or her account, please contact us at customer-service@informit.com and we will process the deletion of a user's account.

Choice/Opt-out


Users can always make an informed choice as to whether they should proceed with certain services offered by InformIT. If you choose to remove yourself from our mailing list(s) simply visit the following page and uncheck any communication you no longer want to receive: www.informit.com/u.aspx.

Sale of Personal Information


Pearson does not rent or sell personal information in exchange for any payment of money.

While Pearson does not sell personal information, as defined in Nevada law, Nevada residents may email a request for no sale of their personal information to NevadaDesignatedRequest@pearson.com.

Supplemental Privacy Statement for California Residents


California residents should read our Supplemental privacy statement for California residents in conjunction with this Privacy Notice. The Supplemental privacy statement for California residents explains Pearson's commitment to comply with California law and applies to personal information of California residents collected in connection with this site and the Services.

Sharing and Disclosure


Pearson may disclose personal information, as follows:

  • As required by law.
  • With the consent of the individual (or their parent, if the individual is a minor)
  • In response to a subpoena, court order or legal process, to the extent permitted or required by law
  • To protect the security and safety of individuals, data, assets and systems, consistent with applicable law
  • In connection the sale, joint venture or other transfer of some or all of its company or assets, subject to the provisions of this Privacy Notice
  • To investigate or address actual or suspected fraud or other illegal activities
  • To exercise its legal rights, including enforcement of the Terms of Use for this site or another contract
  • To affiliated Pearson companies and other companies and organizations who perform work for Pearson and are obligated to protect the privacy of personal information consistent with this Privacy Notice
  • To a school, organization, company or government agency, where Pearson collects or processes the personal information in a school setting or on behalf of such organization, company or government agency.

Links


This web site contains links to other sites. Please be aware that we are not responsible for the privacy practices of such other sites. We encourage our users to be aware when they leave our site and to read the privacy statements of each and every web site that collects Personal Information. This privacy statement applies solely to information collected by this web site.

Requests and Contact


Please contact us about this Privacy Notice or if you have any requests or questions relating to the privacy of your personal information.

Changes to this Privacy Notice


We may revise this Privacy Notice through an updated posting. We will identify the effective date of the revision in the posting. Often, updates are made to provide greater clarity or to comply with changes in regulatory requirements. If the updates involve material changes to the collection, protection, use or disclosure of Personal Information, Pearson will provide notice of the change through a conspicuous notice on this site or other appropriate way. Continued use of the site after the effective date of a posted revision evidences acceptance. Please contact us if you have questions or concerns about the Privacy Notice or any objection to any revisions.

Last Update: November 17, 2020