Setup strong password policy in Windows XP

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Article ID: 555540 - View products that this article applies to.
Author: Raghu Boddu MVP
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SUMMARY

This article explains one of the simplest ways to improve security of a Windows XP PC by implementing a strong password.

Tips

Setup strong password policy in Windows XP

Many of the PC users especially, home users will not give much priority to set a good password. There could be more serious fallout such as: identity theft, data theft, or the attackers may access confidential financial records also. Even, many viruses and worms are now designed to exploit weak passwords. You can implement strong password by following the steps provided below:
 
- Set the minimum password Length
- Set Alphanumeric Windows password
- Limit the Maximum password age
- Set the password expiry warning period
- Set the password history
 
Setting up the Minimum Password Length:
 
You can set the minimum password length in Windows XP also. Navigate to the following registry key:
 
HKEY_LOCAL_MACHINE\SOFTWARE\Microsoft\Windows\CurrentVersion\Policies\Network
 
Create a new REG_BINARY (Binary Value) MinPwdLen and set the minimum password length.
 
Set Alphanumeric Windows password:
 
Windows by default will accept normal passwords also. To restrict the password to be a alphanumeric password, add a new registry key. Navigate to the following registry key:
 
HKEY_LOCAL_MACHINE\Software\Microsoft\Windows\CurrentVersion\Policies\Network
 
Create a new REG_DWORD (DWORD Value) and name it as AlphanumPwds and set the value data to 1.
 
Limit the Maximum password age:
 
Navigate to the following registry key:
 
HKEY_LOCAL_MACHINE\SOFTWARE\Microsoft\Windows\CurrentVersion\Policies\Network
 
Create a new REG_BINARY (Binary Value) and name it as MaxPasswordAge. Set the value to 20 or 30, so that you need to change the password by that number of days.
 
Also, you can make Windows notify to change the password before expiry. To set the number of days, go to the following key:
 
HKEY_LOCAL_MACHINE\SOFTWARE\Microsoft\Windows NT\CurrentVersion\Winlogon
 
Create a DWORD value called PasswordExpiryWarning. Set the Number of Days (Default = 14.)
 
Enforce password history:
 
This setting will remember your previous passwords and will not allow you to assign the same password. For example, if you set the value to 3, the new password that you want to assign now should not be the same in the last 3 passwords.
 
Alternatively, you can go to the Password Policy to set all these values. Following are the steps:

Click Start, Control Panel.
Double click Administrative Tools.
Double click Local Security Policy.
Expand Account Policies and select Password Policy.
In the details pane, double-click the item that you want and set the value.
Click OK.

Properties

Article ID: 555540 - Last Review: December 28, 2005 - Revision: 1.0
APPLIES TO
  • Microsoft Windows XP Home Edition
  • Microsoft Windows XP Media Center Edition 2002
  • Microsoft Windows XP Service Pack 1
  • Microsoft Windows XP Service Pack 2
  • Microsoft Windows XP Tablet PC Edition
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