Devices: Allowed to format and eject removable media

Applies To: Windows Server 2003, Windows Vista, Windows XP, Windows Server 2008, Windows 7, Windows 8.1, Windows Server 2008 R2, Windows Server 2012 R2, Windows Server 2012, Windows 8

This security policy reference topic for the IT professional describes the best practices, location, values, and security considerations for this policy setting.

Reference

This policy setting determines who is allowed to format and eject removable media.

Users can move removable disks to a different computer where they have administrative user rights and then take ownership of any file, assign themselves full control, and view or modify any file. The advantage of configuring this policy setting is diminished by the fact that most removable storage devices will eject media with the press of a button.

Possible values

  • Administrators

  • Administrators and Power Users

  • Administrators and Interactive Users (not applicable to Windows Server 2008 R2 or Windows 7)

  • Not defined

Best practices

  1. It is advisable to set Allowed to format and eject removable media to Administrators. Only administrators will be able to eject NTFS-formatted removable media.

Location

GPO_name\Computer Configuration\Windows Settings\Security Settings\Local Policies\Security Options

Default values

The following table lists the actual and effective default values for this policy. Default values are also listed on the policy’s property page.

Server type or GPO

Default value

Default Domain Policy

Not defined

Default Domain Controller Policy

Not defined

Stand-Alone Server Default Settings

Administrators

DC Effective Default Settings

Administrators

Member Server Effective Default Settings

Administrators

Client Computer Effective Default Settings

Not defined

Operating system version differences

The option Administrators and Interactive Users is not applicable to Windows Server 2008 R2 or Windows 7, but it can be used for backward compatibility.

Policy management

This section describes features and tools that are available to help you manage this policy.

Restart requirement

None. Changes to this policy become effective without a computer restart when they are saved locally or distributed through Group Policy.

Security considerations

This section describes how an attacker might exploit a feature or its configuration, how to implement the countermeasure, and the possible negative consequences of countermeasure implementation.

Vulnerability

Users could move data on removable disks to a different computer where they have administrative privileges. The user could then take ownership of any file, grant themselves full control, and view or modify any file. The fact that most removable storage devices eject media when a mechanical button is pressed diminishes the advantage of this policy setting.

Countermeasure

Configure the Devices: Allowed to format and eject removable media setting to Administrators.

Potential impact

Only administrators can format and eject removable media. If users are in the habit of using removable media for file transfers and storage, they must be informed of the change in policy.