2.2.19 Ensure 'Debug programs' is set to 'Administrators'


This policy setting determines which user accounts will have the right to attach a debugger to any process or to the kernel, which provides complete access to sensitive and critical operating system components. Developers who are debugging their own applications do not need to be assigned this user right; however, developers who are debugging new system components will need it.

The recommended state for this setting is: Administrators.

Note: This user right is considered a 'sensitive privilege' for the purposes of auditing.


The Debug programs user right can be exploited to capture sensitive computer information from system memory, or to access and modify kernel or application structures. Some attack tools exploit this user right to extract hashed passwords and other private security information, or to insert rootkit code. By default, the Debug programs user right is assigned only to administrators, which helps to mitigate the risk from this vulnerability.


If you revoke this user right, no one will be able to debug programs. However, typical circumstances rarely require this capability on production computers. If a problem arises that requires an application to be debugged on a production server, you can move the server to a different OU temporarily and assign the Debug programs user right to a separate Group Policy for that OU.

The service account that is used for the cluster service needs the Debug programs user right; if it does not have it, Windows Clustering will fail.

Tools that are used to manage processes will be unable to affect processes that are not owned by the person who runs the tools. For example, the Windows Server 2003 Resource Kit tool Kill.exe requires this user right for administrators to terminate processes that they did not start.


To establish the recommended configuration via GP, set the following UI path to Administrators:

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

Default Value:


See Also


Item Details


References: 800-53|SI-9, CSCv7|18.2

Plugin: Windows

Control ID: 174c812eea5e0185f4686b529c37d79ae118ff8f80e25d132d45d666fc1aaa13