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Shut down the system - security policy setting

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Applies to

Describes the best practices, location, values, policy management, and security considerations for the Shut down the system security policy setting.

Reference

This security setting determines if a user who is logged on locally to a device can shut down Windows.

Shutting down domain controllers makes them unavailable to perform functions such as processing logon requests, processing Group Policy settings, and answering Lightweight Directory Access Protocol (LDAP) queries. Shutting down domain controllers that have been assigned operations master roles (also known as flexible single master operations or FSMO roles) can disable key domain functionality; for example, processing logon requests for new passwords, which is performed by the primary domain controller (PDC) emulator master.

The Shut down the system user right is required to enable hibernation support, to set the power management settings, and to cancela shutdown.

Constant: SeShutdownPrivilege

Possible values

  • A user-defined list of accounts
  • Defaults
  • Not defined

Best practices

  1. Ensure that only Administrators and Backup Operators have the Shut down the system user right on member servers, and that only Administrators have the user right on domain controllers. Removing these default groups might limit the abilities of users who are assigned to specific administrative roles in your environment. Ensure that their delegated tasks will not be negatively affected.
  2. The ability to shut down domain controllers should be limited to a very small number of trusted administrators. Even though a system shutdown requires the ability to log on to the server, you should be very careful about the accounts and groups that you allow to shut down a domain controller.

Location

Computer Configuration\Windows Settings\Security Settings\Local Policies\User Rights Assignment

Default values

By default this setting is Administrators, Backup Operators, Server Operators, and Print Operators on domain controllers, and Administrators and Backup Operators on stand-alone servers.

The following table lists the actual and effective default policy values for the most recent supported versions of Windows. Default values are also listed on the policy’s property page.

Server type or GPODefault value
Default Domain PolicyNot defined
Default Domain Controller PolicyAdministrators
Backup Operators
Server Operators
Print Operators
Stand-Alone Server Default SettingsAdministrators
Backup Operators
Domain Controller Effective Default SettingsAdministrators
Backup Operators
Server Operators
Print Operators
Member Server Effective Default SettingsAdministrators
Backup Operators
Client Computer Effective Default SettingsAdministrators
Backup Operators
Users

Policy management

This section describes features, tools, and guidance to help you manage this policy.

A restart of the computer is not required for this policy setting to be effective.

Any change to the user rights assignment for an account becomes effective the next time the owner of the account logs on.

Group Policy

This user right does not have the same effect as Force shutdown from a remote system. For more information, see Force shutdown from a remote system.

Settings are applied in the following order through a Group Policy Object (GPO), which will overwrite settings on the local computer at the next Group Policy update:

  1. Local policy settings
  2. Site policy settings
  3. Domain policy settings
  4. OU policy settings

When a local setting is greyed out, it indicates that a GPO currently controls that setting.

This section describes how an attacker might exploit a feature or its configuration, how to implement the countermeasure, and the possible negative consequences of countermeasure implementation.

Vulnerability

The ability to shut down domain controllers should be limited to a very small number of trusted administrators. Although the Shut down the system user right requires the ability to log on to the server, you should be very careful about which accounts and groups you allow to shut down a domain controller.

When a domain controller is shut down, it is no longer available to process logon requests, process Group Policy settings, and answer Lightweight Directory Access Protocol (LDAP) queries. If you shut down domain controllers that possess operations master roles, you can disable key domain functionality, such as processing logon requests for new passwords, which is performed by the PDC master.

For other server roles, especially those where non-administrators have rights to log on to the server (such as RD Session Host servers), it is critical that this user right be removed from users that do not have a legitimate reason to restart the servers.

Countermeasure

Ensure that only the Administrators and Backup Operators groups are assigned the Shut down the system user right on member servers, and ensure that only the Administrators group is assigned the user right on domain controllers.

Potential impact

The impact of removing these default groups from the Shut down the system user right could limit the delegated abilities of assigned roles in your environment. You should confirm that delegated activities are not adversely affected.

Related topics

Q: What is the purpose of the Windows Bypass Traverse Checking user right (also referred to as SeChangeNotifyPrivilege)?

A: If a Windows account is granted the Bypass Traverse Checking user right, the account—or the process that acts on behalf of the account—is allowed to bypass certain Windows security checks. Bypass Traverse Checking determines which users can traverse directory or file system folder trees even though they might not have permissions on the level of the traversed directory or file system folder hierarchy itself.

The following is an example of how this user right works: Imagine you have a file system folder called Confidential_Information that has access permissions only for user Bob. Inside this folder there's a file called For_Alice_Only.txt that has read permissions for user Alice. If Alice is granted the Bypass Traverse Checking user right, Alice can access the file directly, without having access denied problems because she doesn't have read permissions on the folder the file is in. Note that the Bypass Traverse Checking user right doesn't let Alice list the contents of the Confidential_Information folder; instead, it lets her “traverse” the folder and access the For_Alice_Only.txt file directly.

On Windows workstations and servers, the Bypass Traverse Checking user right is given to members of the Administrators, Backup Operators, Power Users (this group doesn't exist in Windows Vista anymore), Users, and Everyone groups by default. On domain controllers (DCs), the user right is given to members of the Administrators and Authenticated Users groups by default. In a Windows Active Directory (AD) environment, you can centrally control who is granted the Bypass Traverse Checking user right by configuring the corresponding Group Policy Object (GPO) setting in the Computer Configuration\Windows Settings\Security Settings\Local Policies\User Rights Assignment GPO container.

Unless you have very strict security requirements (for example, in government or military environments), I recommend using the default Bypass Traverse Checking settings. If you remove a Windows account’s Bypass Traverse Checking user right, the user will notice a performance hit when he/she accesses files or folders on an NTFS-formatted drive because of the additional folder-level access checks that will occur in the background. That's why leaving Bypass Traverse Checking enabled is a performance- and NTFS- optimization trick.

TAGS: Cloud & Data CenterSecurity