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How to harden the Windows Operating Systems

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I will put here all the actions I take to secure Microsoft Windows operating systems. I hope it will be useful to you! :)

This guide can be used independently on workstations or servers.


  • Here a list of actions that I set up :
    • Update BIOS firmware to latest
    • Enable secure boot
    • Set BIOS password to prevent unwanted changes
    • Disable booting on USB or any other external device

Users Accounts

For most uses cases we do not need to work under an administrator session. The latter should only be used for specific cases (softwares installations, modification of the Windows configuration etc…). So the first thing to do is to create a user session without administrator rights.

  • From an administrator command create standard account :
net user stduser 1userP@SSWORD /add
  • From an administrator command create administrator account :
net user adminuser 1admin@SSWORD /add net localgroup administrators adminuser /add


In order to reduce the attack surface it is important to disable services that we don't use.

Service Service Name Comment
AllJoyn Router Service AJRouter
Bluetooth Support Service bthserv
Connected User Experiences and Telemetry DiagTrack
Device Management Wireless Application Protocol (WAP) Push message Routing Service dmwapphushservice
Function Discovery Provider Host fdPHost
Function Discovery Resource Publication FDResPub
Geolocation Service lfsvc
Link-Layer Topology Discovery Mapper lltdsvc
Network Connected Devices Auto-Setup NcdAutoSetup
Peer Networking Identity Manager p2pimsvc
Peer Networking Grouping p2psvc
Peer Name Resolution Protocol PNRPsvc
Remote Access Auto Connection Manager RasAuto
Remote Access Connection Manager RasMan
Routing and Remote Access RemoteAccess
Remote Registry RemoteRegistry
Retail Demo Service retaildemo
Internet Connection Sharing (ICS) SharedAccess
UPnP Device Host upnphost
Windows Connect Now - Config Registrar wcncsvc
WLAN AutoConfig WlanSvc
Microsoft Account Sign-in Assistant wlidsvc
Windows Media Player Network Sharing Service WMPNetworkSvc
WWAN AutoConfig WwanSvc
Xbox Live Auth Manager XblAuthManager
Xbox Live Game Save XblGameSave
Xbox Accessory Management Service XboxGipSvc
Xbox Live Networking Service XboxNetApiSvc
  • Script to disable services :
sc.exe config AJRouter start=disabled sc.exe config bthserv start=disabled sc.exe config DiagTrack start=disabled sc.exe config dmwappushservice start=disabled sc.exe config fdPHost start=disabled sc.exe config FDResPub start=disabled sc.exe config lfsvc start=disabled sc.exe config lltdsvc start=disabled sc.exe config NcdAutoSetup start=disabled sc.exe config p2pimsvc start=disabled sc.exe config p2psvc start=disabled sc.exe config PNRPsvc start=disabled sc.exe config RasAuto start=disabled sc.exe config RasMan start=disabled sc.exe config RemoteAccess start=disabled sc.exe config RemoteRegistry start=disabled sc.exe config retaildemo start=disabled sc.exe config SharedAccess start=disabled sc.exe config SSDPSRV start=disabled sc.exe config upnphost start=disabled sc.exe config wcncsvc start=disabled sc.exe config WlanSvc start=disabled sc.exe config wlidsvc start=disabled sc.exe config WMPNetworkSvc start=disabled sc.exe config WwanSvc start=disabled sc.exe config XblAuthManager start=disabled sc.exe config XblGameSave start=disabled sc.exe config XboxGipSvc start=disabled sc.exe config XboxNetApiSvc start=disabled

Windows Firewall

Set default actions

Windows Firewall logo

We can use the Windows Firewall to allow only the network flows needed.

To do so, we will deny input and output by defaults.

  • Enable Windows Firewall and block inbound and outbound traffic :
PS C:\Windows\system32> Set-NetFirewallProfile -Profile Domain,Public,Private -DefaultInboundAction Block -DefaultOutboundAction Block -Enabled True
  • You can do the same with the graphical mmc :
Domain profile tab of the Windows Defender interface


With theses restrictives rules legit traffic could be blocked. To track the traffic which is blocked we will have to enable firewall log.

  • Edit group policy and enable the Audit Filtering Platform Packet Drop :
Local Group Policy Editor Window to enable the filtering platform packet drop audit
  • Then open Windows Event Viewer to see blocked traffic (event id : 5152) :
blocked traffic inside the Windows Event Viewer

Windows Update

Microsoft published security update very often, so update your system via Windows Update as soon as you can.

Encrypt the hard drive

Especially on the laptops, encrypting the hard drive is a very good security feature to harden the system. We can use BitLocker or any others solution (As VeraCrypt for example).

Windows explorer, right click to turn Bilocker on

Group Policy

There are a lot of parameters inside group policy to harden the system.

Group Policy Value Comment
Computer Configuration > Windows Settings > Security Settings > Account Policies > Password Policy
Enforce password history 24
Maximum password age 90
Minimum password age 1
Password must meet complexity requirements Enabled
Minimum password lenght 10
Store password using reversible encryption Disabled
Computer Configuration > Windows Settings > Security Settings > Account Policies > Account Lock Policy
Account lockout threshold 10
Account lockout duration 5 minutes
Reset account lockout counter after 5 minutes
Computer Configuration > Windows Settings > Security Settings > Local Policies > User Rights Assignment
Access this computer from the network Administrators, Authenticated Users
Allow log on through Remote Desktop Services - Add accounts which are authorized to use RDS
Deny access to this computer from the network DefaultGuest Add Local Account if in a domain
Deny log on locally Defaultguest Add domain administrators if in a domain
Deny log on as a service Defaultguest Add domain administrators if in a domain
Deny log on as a batch job DefaultGuest Add domain administrators if in a domain
Deny log on through Remote Desktop Services DefaultGuest Add domain administrators and Local Account if in a domain
Allow log on locally Administrators and Authenticated Users
Increase scheduling priority Administrators
Restore files and directories Administrators
Back up files and directories Administrators
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