It is not uncommon for office based computer users to lock their desktop at the end of the working day, instead of shutting it down, maybe just force of habit from bygone days of long logon times. If they are using a Windows domain joined desktop, this poses a problem, because only they can unlock it again and so the desktop is rendered unusable by other users.
If you operate a hotdesk or other shared workstation environment then there's a good chance your users are regularly experiencing this problem, and historically there were three solutions:
- Call IT Support and ask them to ‘unlock’ the desktop for you (local administrators are the only users who can force the logged-on session to logoff).
- Hard reset the desktop (which can lead to data corruption, data loss, etc).
- Grant computer users local admin rights.
None of these solutions were ideal, as they all came at a cost – either through increased helpdesk calls, or the hidden costs of users possessing excessive rights.
A new feature added to Privilege Guard 3.0 (Edit: now Defendpoint), Shared Workstation Unlock, allows you to set policy on which end users are able to unlock a shared workstation or who is not allowed to unlock a workstation. So as well as empowering standard users, you can also restrict local administrators.
Shared Workstation Unlock is driven by Privilege Guard Policies, and leverages the flexible filtering rules that define when and where policy is applied. So granting or revoking Shared Workstation Unlock privileges can be based on any combination of:
- User name and user group membership
- Computer name or IP Address
- Date and time range
- Time expiry date
Configuring Shared Workstation Unlock is easy, and anyone accustomed with Group Policy settings should find the logic familiar. For any Privilege Guard Policy, open the Policy Options dialog and you will find a tri-state option under Workstation:
- Not Configured – Privilege Guard will ignore this policy and move on to the next policy.
- User can unlock a shared workstation – Privilege Guard will allow the user to unlock the shared workstation.
- User cannot unlock a shared workstation – Privilege Guard will prevent the user from unlocking the shared workstation.
Shared Workstation Unlock significantly reduces support costs by allowing standard users to unlock desktops in shared workstation environments without having to grant local admin rights.
Edit: Privilege Guard has now evolved into the brand new security suite, Defendpoint, which encompasses Privilege Management, Application Control and Sandboxing. For more information, please visit www.avecto.com/defendpoint.
Kris Zentek, Senior Product Manager
Kris Zentek is a Senior Product Manager at BeyondTrust, focusing on Endpoint Privilege Management solutions. Based in the UK, he has over 20 years of experience working in the cybersecurity industry.