1.2.1 Ensure 'Account lockout duration' is set to '15 or more minute(s)'

Information

This policy setting determines the length of time that must pass before a locked account is unlocked and a user can try to log on again. The setting does this by specifying the number of minutes a locked out account will remain unavailable. If the value for this policy setting is configured to 0, locked out accounts will remain locked out until an administrator manually unlocks them.

Although it might seem like a good idea to configure the value for this policy setting to a high value, such a configuration will likely increase the number of calls that the help desk receives to unlock accounts locked by mistake. Users should be aware of the length of time a lock remains in place, so that they realize they only need to call the help desk if they have an extremely urgent need to regain access to their computer.

The recommended state for this setting is: 15 or more minute(s).

Note: Password Policy settings (section 1.1) and Account Lockout Policy settings (section 1.2) must be applied via the Default Domain Policy GPO in order to be globally in effect on domain user accounts as their default behavior. If these settings are configured in another GPO, they will only affect local user accounts on the computers that receive the GPO. However, custom exceptions to the default password policy and account lockout policy rules for specific domain users and/or groups can be defined using Password Settings Objects (PSOs), which are completely separate from Group Policy and most easily configured using Active Directory Administrative Center.

Rationale:

A denial of service (DoS) condition can be created if an attacker abuses the Account lockout threshold and repeatedly attempts to log on with a specific account. Once you configure the Account lockout threshold setting, the account will be locked out after the specified number of failed attempts. If you configure the Account lockout duration setting to 0, then the account will remain locked out until an administrator unlocks it manually.

Impact:

Although it may seem like a good idea to configure this policy setting to never automatically unlock an account, such a configuration can increase the number of requests that your organization's help desk receives to unlock accounts that were locked by mistake.

Solution

To establish the recommended configuration via GP, set the following UI path to 15 or more minute(s):

Computer Configuration\Policies\Windows Settings\Security Settings\Account Policies\Account Lockout Policy\Account lockout duration

Default Value:

None, because this policy setting only has meaning when an Account lockout threshold is specified. When an Account lockout threshold is configured, Windows automatically suggests a value of 30 minutes.

See Also

https://workbench.cisecurity.org/files/3709