Security Focus: Resetting 'Smart card is required for interactive logon'

Last week I mentioned that there are a number of configuration options we recommend for high privileged users and we discussed 'Account is sensitive and cannot be delegated' .

This week let's look at 'Smart card is required for interactive logon' (SCRIL).


Smart Card Good, Post-It Note Bad

'Smart card is required for interactive logon'  forces two factor authentication at logon: i.e. something we have (the smart card), and something we know (a PIN). This increases account security. When SCRIL is configured, the account’s password hash is replaced with a hash derived from a 120-character random value.

We still have a hash... even though SCRIL users are using a smart card and not a password for interactive logon, a high-entropy secret is created to prevent a dictionary attack on NTLM network logons... and, where there are hashes, there's the potential for a Pass-The-Hash attack from a compromised system. Now, here's the rub: the hashes for SCRIL users don't change, so if their credentials are stolen, the attacker can reuse these ad infinitum.

However, unsetting and setting the SCRIL option on a user generates a new hash based on a 120-character random value. Here's some PowerShell to perform SCRIL password resets:

Get-ADUser -Filter {SmartCardLogonRequired -eq $true} | ForEach-Object {

Set-ADUser -Identity $_ -SmartcardLogonRequired $false

Set-ADUser -Identity $_ -SmartcardLogonRequired $true



We use Get-ADUser with a filter that gets us all users that are required to use a smart card for interactive logon. We then use Set-ADUser to switch the value of and then back on again. This is the equivalent of unticking and ticking the box in the user properties page (see above). That's it.

Here's how to check which high privileged users have the option set:

Get-ADUser -Filter {(AdminCount -eq 1) -and (SmartcardLogonRequired -eq $true)} | Select-Object DistinguishedName


Of course, you'll need the infrastructure to support smart cards and that's a completely different, more expensive post...


Post Script: when you configure “Smart card required for interactive logon” (SCRIL), do not manually set a password for the account. Doing so undermines the benefits of SCRIL!