This article was previously published under Q320828
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When a domain administrator resets a user's password and then logs on to their Windows 2000-based computer with the reset password, the administrator can access the user's secured private e-mail and browser data. Additionally, if the computer is left unattended, anyone with access to the computer may also be able to see the user's private data.
The Windows 2000 implementation of Microsoft Cryptography Service Providers (CSPs) permits users to store their decryption keys on their computers that are protected with their domain password.
Service pack information
To resolve this problem, obtain the latest service pack for Microsoft Windows 2000. For additional information, click the following article number to view the article in the Microsoft Knowledge Base:
260910 How to obtain the latest Windows 2000 service pack
A supported hotfix is now available from Microsoft, but it is only intended to correct the problem that is described in this article. Only apply it to systems that are experiencing this specific problem. This hotfix may receive additional testing. Therefore, if you are not severely affected by this problem, we recommend that you wait for the next Windows 2000 service pack that contains this hotfix.
To resolve this problem immediately, contact Microsoft Product Support Services to obtain the hotfix. For a complete list of Microsoft Product Support Services telephone numbers and information about support costs, visit the following Microsoft Web site:
Note In special cases, charges that are ordinarily incurred for support calls may be canceled if a Microsoft Support Professional determines that a specific update will resolve your problem. The usual support costs will apply to additional support questions and issues that do not qualify for the specific update in question.
The English version of this hotfix has the file attributes (or later) that are listed in the following table. The dates and times for these files are listed in coordinated universal time (UTC). When you view the file information, it is converted to local time. To find the difference between UTC and local time, use the Time Zone tab in the Date and Time tool in Control Panel.
Microsoft has confirmed that this is a problem in the Microsoft products that are listed in the "Applies to" section. This problem was first corrected in Microsoft Windows 2000 Service Pack 4.
After installing this hotfix, the administrator can set a policy enforce strong password protection on user's computer. After the policy has propagated, the user has to type a password when he or she first accesses the encryption key. The key is cached for subsequent uses until the end of a fixed time-out period. After the time-out period has expired, the key expires and the memory that held the key is cleared to subsequent recovery.
With the strong password protection feature, the domain administrator cannot gain access to a user's private information. The strong password protection feature prevents a separate password from accessing the user’s private decryption key.