Hardening Microsoft Windows 8 Standard Operating Environments

Download ACSC Protect Hardening Microsoft Windows 8 Standard Operating Environments (760K PDF), July 2015
Published July 2015


Workstations are often targeted by an adversary using malicious webpages, emails with malicious attachments and removable media with malicious content in an attempt to extract sensitive information. Hardening the operating environments of workstations is an important part of reducing this risk.

This document provides guidance on assessing Microsoft Windows operating environments for vulnerabilities, or lack of security controls, that would potentially allow an adversary to compromise a workstation and extract sensitive information. This document does not cover supplementary security controls that should be applied to an organisation’s environment such as physical, personnel and network security controls. While this document refers to workstations, most group policy recommendations are equally applicable to servers using Microsoft Server 2012 R2. In cases where group policies are not applicable to servers, specific server group policies have been included for completeness. The names and locations of group policies used in this document are taken from Microsoft Windows 8.1; some slight differences may exist for earlier versions of Microsoft Windows. Before implementing recommendations in this document, thorough testing should be undertaken to ensure the potential for unintended negative impacts on business processes is reduced as much as possible.

This document is intended for information technology and information security professionals within organisations looking to undertake risk assessments or vulnerability assessments as well as those wishing to develop a hardened standard operating environment for workstations.

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Australian government customers with questions regarding this advice can contact ASD Advice and Assistance.

Australian businesses and other private sector organisations seeking further information should contact CERT Australia.