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How to Set Minimum Password Length & Age on Windows Using PowerShell

Key Takeaways

  • Setting robust password policies is fundamental in IT security.
  • The provided PowerShell script automates password policy configurations on Windows.
  • The script requires administrator privileges for execution.
  • Automated methods, like this script, are more efficient than manual configurations, especially in large environments.
  • Regular policy reviews and updates are essential for proactive security.
  • Integration with platforms like NinjaOne can amplify the benefits of such scripts.
  • Ensuring consistent password requirements directly bolsters IT security.
  • Automation tools are pivotal in the era of rapid IT expansion and threats.

In the continuously evolving domain of IT security, safeguarding user account access remains a foundational principle. As enterprises aim for enhanced security measures, setting appropriate password requirements becomes paramount. Herein, a PowerShell script plays a vital role by automating the changing of password policies on Windows devices.

Background

Historically, IT professionals and Managed Service Providers (MSPs) manually set password requirements. However, as infrastructures grow and scaling becomes imperative, manual processes become impractical. This PowerShell script seamlessly addresses this need by allowing administrators to set specific password lengths and ages for local accounts on Windows systems. By automating such mundane yet essential tasks, professionals can ensure consistent password policies and, by extension, a more robust IT security environment.

The Script

#Requires -Version 5.1

<#
.SYNOPSIS
    Set the minium password length or age for local accounts.
.DESCRIPTION
    Set the minium password length or age for local accounts.
.EXAMPLE
     -Length 14
    Set the minium password length for local accounts.
.EXAMPLE
     -Length 14 -MinAge 30 -MaxAge 42
    Set the minium password length, minium age, maximum age for local accounts.
.EXAMPLE
    PS C:> Set-MiniumPasswordRequirements.ps1 -Length 14 -Age 42
    Set the minium password length and age for local accounts.
.OUTPUTS
    None
.NOTES
    Minimum OS Architecture Supported: Windows 10, Windows Server 2016
    Release Notes:
    Initial Release
By using this script, you indicate your acceptance of the following legal terms as well as our Terms of Use at https://www.ninjaone.com/terms-of-use.
    Ownership Rights: NinjaOne owns and will continue to own all right, title, and interest in and to the script (including the copyright). NinjaOne is giving you a limited license to use the script in accordance with these legal terms. 
    Use Limitation: You may only use the script for your legitimate personal or internal business purposes, and you may not share the script with another party. 
    Republication Prohibition: Under no circumstances are you permitted to re-publish the script in any script library or website belonging to or under the control of any other software provider. 
    Warranty Disclaimer: The script is provided “as is” and “as available”, without warranty of any kind. NinjaOne makes no promise or guarantee that the script will be free from defects or that it will meet your specific needs or expectations. 
    Assumption of Risk: Your use of the script is at your own risk. You acknowledge that there are certain inherent risks in using the script, and you understand and assume each of those risks. 
    Waiver and Release: You will not hold NinjaOne responsible for any adverse or unintended consequences resulting from your use of the script, and you waive any legal or equitable rights or remedies you may have against NinjaOne relating to your use of the script. 
    EULA: If you are a NinjaOne customer, your use of the script is subject to the End User License Agreement applicable to you (EULA).
.COMPONENT
    LocalUserAccountManagement
#>

[CmdletBinding()]
param (
    [Parameter()]
    [ValidateRange(0, 14)]
    [int]
    $Length,
    [Parameter()]
    [ValidateRange(0, 998)]
    [int]
    $MinAge,
    [Parameter()]
    [ValidateRange(0, 999)]
    [int]
    $MaxAge
)

begin {
    function Test-IsElevated {
        $id = [System.Security.Principal.WindowsIdentity]::GetCurrent()
        $p = New-Object System.Security.Principal.WindowsPrincipal($id)
        if ($p.IsInRole([System.Security.Principal.WindowsBuiltInRole]::Administrator))
        { Write-Output $true }
        else
        { Write-Output $false }
    }
    function Get-LocalPasswordPolicy {
        param ()
        $Result = [PSCustomObject]@{
            MinimumLength = 0
            MaximumAge    = 0
            MinimumAge    = 0
        }
        $(net.exe accounts) -split "n" | ForEach-Object {
            $Line = $_ -split ":"
            if ($_ -like "Minimum password length*") {
                $Result.MinimumLength = "$($Line[1])".Trim(' ')
            }
            if ($_ -like "Maximum password age (days)*") {
                $Result.MaximumAge = "$($Line[1])".Trim(' ')
            }
            if ($_ -like "Minimum password age (days)*") {
                $Result.MinimumAge = "$($Line[1])".Trim(' ')
            }
        }
        $Result
    }

    $NetExeError = $false
}
process {
    if (-not (Test-IsElevated)) {
        Write-Error -Message "Access Denied. Please run with Administrator privileges."
        exit 1
    }
    # Get Current localhost password policy settings
    $CurrentSettings = Get-LocalPasswordPolicy
    
    if ($PSBoundParameters.ContainsKey("Length") -and -not ($CurrentSettings.MinimumLength -like $NewSettings.MinimumLength -or $CurrentSettings.MinimumLength -eq $NewSettings.MinimumLength)) {
        Write-Host "Changing Minimum Password Length from $($CurrentSettings.MinimumLength) to $Length"
        net.exe accounts /minpwlen:$Length
    }
    if ($PSBoundParameters.ContainsKey("MaxAge") -and
        -not (
            $(if ($CurrentSettings.MaximumAge -like "unlimited") { 0 }else { $CurrentSettings.MaximumAge }) -like
            $(if ($NewSettings.MaximumAge -like "unlimited") { 0 }else { $NewSettings.MaximumAge })
        )) {
        Write-Host "Changing Maximum Password Age from $($CurrentSettings.MaximumAge) to $MaxAge"
        if ($MaxAge -gt 0) {
            net.exe accounts /maxpwage:$MaxAge
        }
        else {
            net.exe accounts /maxpwage:unlimited
        }
    }
    if ($PSBoundParameters.ContainsKey("MinAge") -and -not ($CurrentSettings.MinimumAge -like $NewSettings.MinimumAge -or $CurrentSettings.MinimumAge -eq $NewSettings.MinimumAge)) {
        Write-Host "Changing Minimum Password Age from $($CurrentSettings.MinimumAge) to $MinAge"
        net.exe accounts /minpwage:$MinAge
    }

    # Get New localhost password policy settings and check if anything changed
    $NewSettings = Get-LocalPasswordPolicy
    
    if ($PSBoundParameters.ContainsKey("Length") -and ($PSBoundParameters['Length'] -notlike $NewSettings.MinimumLength)) {
        $NetExeError = $true
        Write-Host "Minimum Length was not set correctly."
    }
    if ($PSBoundParameters.ContainsKey("MaxAge") -and ($PSBoundParameters['MaxAge'] -notlike $(if ($NewSettings.MaximumAge -like "unlimited") { 0 }else { $NewSettings.MaximumAge }))) {
        $NetExeError = $true
        Write-Host "Maximum Age was not set correctly."
    }
    if ($PSBoundParameters.ContainsKey("MinAge") -and ($PSBoundParameters['MinAge'] -notlike $NewSettings.MinimumAge)) {
        $NetExeError = $true
        Write-Host "Minimum Age was not set correctly."
    }
    if ($NetExeError) {
        exit 1
    }
}
end {}

 

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Detailed Breakdown

The script provided employs PowerShell’s capabilities to change password policies on Windows:

  • Cmdlet Binding: The script starts by binding it to cmdlet, allowing it to accept parameters such as Length, MinAge, and MaxAge.
  • Test-IsElevated: A function ensuring that the script runs with elevated privileges.
  • Get-LocalPasswordPolicy: This function fetches the current local password policy. It uses the ‘net.exe’ command to gather password policy attributes and returns them.
  • Process Block: Here’s where the core logic resides. The script compares the existing policies with the new parameters. If differences exist, it employs ‘net.exe’ commands to adjust the policies.
  • Validation: After making changes, the script fetches the updated password policies and verifies them against the parameters to ensure correct configuration.

Potential Use Cases

Case Study: Imagine an IT professional, John, working at a fast-growing startup. Following a cybersecurity audit, John realizes that many local accounts have weak password policies. Instead of manually updating each system, John deploys this script across all workstations, ensuring that all devices now adhere to the recommended password length and age.

Comparisons

While manual configuration through Windows settings or group policies is an option, it is time-consuming, error-prone, and unsuitable for larger environments. Third-party tools offer similar functionalities but may introduce complexities or costs. The provided script offers a straightforward, cost-effective, and scalable approach.

FAQs

  • On which Windows versions does the script work? 
    The script supports Windows 10 and Windows Server 2016 onwards.
  • Do I need administrator rights to run the script? 
    Yes, the script requires elevated privileges to modify password policies.

Implications

Improper password policies can lead to unauthorized access, data breaches, and compliance violations. By ensuring consistent and strong password requirements, organizations can drastically reduce these risks, reinforcing their IT security postures.

Recommendations

  • Regularly review and update password policies to stay ahead of evolving threats.
  • Ensure backups before applying changes across a vast number of devices.
  • Combine this script with other automation tools for comprehensive IT management.

Final Thoughts

In the landscape where robust security measures are a necessity, tools that facilitate the “Change Password Policy Windows” requirements become invaluable. For businesses aiming for a streamlined approach in managing their IT assets and configurations, platforms like NinjaOne can provide comprehensive solutions. By integrating such scripts into platforms like NinjaOne, organizations can ensure optimum password policies, resulting in enhanced security and operational efficiency.  

Next Steps

Building an efficient and effective IT team requires a centralized solution that acts as your core service deliver tool. NinjaOne enables IT teams to monitor, manage, secure, and support all their devices, wherever they are, without the need for complex on-premises infrastructure.

Learn more about NinjaOne Remote Script Deployment, check out a live tour, or start your free trial of the NinjaOne platform.

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By clicking the “I Accept” button below, you indicate your acceptance of the following legal terms as well as our Terms of Use:

  • Ownership Rights: NinjaOne owns and will continue to own all right, title, and interest in and to the script (including the copyright). NinjaOne is giving you a limited license to use the script in accordance with these legal terms.
  • Use Limitation: You may only use the script for your legitimate personal or internal business purposes, and you may not share the script with another party.
  • Republication Prohibition: Under no circumstances are you permitted to re-publish the script in any script library belonging to or under the control of any other software provider.
  • Warranty Disclaimer: The script is provided “as is” and “as available”, without warranty of any kind. NinjaOne makes no promise or guarantee that the script will be free from defects or that it will meet your specific needs or expectations.
  • Assumption of Risk: Your use of the script is at your own risk. You acknowledge that there are certain inherent risks in using the script, and you understand and assume each of those risks.
  • Waiver and Release: You will not hold NinjaOne responsible for any adverse or unintended consequences resulting from your use of the script, and you waive any legal or equitable rights or remedies you may have against NinjaOne relating to your use of the script.
  • EULA: If you are a NinjaOne customer, your use of the script is subject to the End User License Agreement applicable to you (EULA).