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Local System Account and Null Sessions in Windows NT
Article ID: 132679 - View products that this article applies to.
This article was previously published under Q132679
This article discusses the Local System account and its security implications, as well as a useful way to run applications in Local System security context.
BackgroundThe shell application, which is typically Progman.exe, runs under the Domain\User security context. Most processes that start from the shell process inherit the same security context.
When you set up Windows NT services, you choose a security context for the service to be started under (because these services are typically not started by a user). To check the security being used by a service:
Services Using The System AccountServices that use the system account start in the system context (without credentials). In Windows NT 3.5 and later, Windows NT services with no credentials (no domain name, user name, or password) that attempt to connect to network resources are denied access because they have no credentials and they are using a null session. For additional information, click the article number below to view the article in the Microsoft Knowledge Base:
122702NOTE: System Account and This Account: Local System use the same account.
(http://support.microsoft.com/kb/122702/EN-US/ )Using the System Account as a Service in Windows NT 3.5
A null session is only established when there are no credentials for a process to start under (no user name or password). Typically, only the operating system itself runs as system.
On the local computer, the operating system is known as:
Default Owner: Administrators local group User: System pseudo group - local group scope Groups: Administrators local group Everyone pseudo group - local group scope
When this context is used to access the network, a null session is used. This produces the following context on remote computers:
Default Owner: Everyone User: Everyone Groups: AnonymousLogon pseudo group - local group scope Network pseudo group - local group scope
Only three identifiers can provide the null session access (Everyone, AnonymousLogon, and Network). The local system context and null session context have only the identifier Everyone in common. To configure Windows NT so that a service can access objects on its own computer directly, as well as over the network, use the Everyone identifier.
The default owners of these two contexts (as well as their default DACLs) are different. Any files you created in these contexts will be owned by Administrators. Any files you create through a null session will be owned by Everyone.
Article ID: 132679 - Last Review: November 1, 2006 - Revision: 2.1