You can use the SysKey utility to additionally secure the SAM database by moving the SAM database encryption key off the Windows-based computer. The SysKey utility can also be used to configure a start-up password that must be entered to decrypt the system key so that Windows can access the SAM database. This article describes how to use the SysKey utility to secure the Windows SAM database.
Configure Windows System Key ProtectionTo Configure Windows System Key Protection, follow these steps:
- At a command prompt, type syskey, and then press ENTER.
- In the Securing the Windows Account Database dialog box, note that the Encryption Enabled option is selected and is the only option available. When this option is selected, Windows will always encrypt the SAM database.
- Click Update.
- Click Password Startup if you want to require a password to start Windows. Use a complex password that contains a combination of upper case and lower case letters, numbers, and symbols. The startup password must be at least 12 characters long and can be up to 128 characters long.
Note If you must remotely restart a computer that requires a password (if you use the Password Startup option), a person must be at the local console during the restart. Use this option only if a trusted security administrator will be available to type the Startup password.
- Click System Generated Password if you do not want to require a startup password.
Select either of the following options:
- Click Store Startup Key on Floppy Disk to store the system startup password on a floppy disk. This requires that someone insert the floppy disk to start the operating system.
- Click Store Startup Key Locally to store the encryption key on the hard disk of the local computer. This is the default option.
Remove the SAM encryption key from the local hard disk by using the Store Startup Key on Floppy Disk option for optimum security. This provides the highest level of protection for the SAM database.
Always create a back-up floppy disk if you use the Store Startup Key on Floppy Disk option. You can restart the system remotely if someone is available to insert the floppy disk into the computer when it restarts.