Understanding Policies: Disable Guest Account and Built-in Guest Account Status

By Zach DeMeyer Posted December 15, 2019

GPO-Like Policy

JumpCloud® Policies are the Directory-as-a-Service® alternative to Microsoft® Group Policy Objects (GPOs). They cover all three major operating systems (Windows®, Mac®, Linux®), which enables admins to automate many of their system security management needs.

For example, two powerful security policies include the Disable Guest Account policy for Macs and Built-in Guest Account Status policy for Windows. Once deployed, they remove a potential attack vector for would-be attackers.

What are the Guest Account Policies?

The Disable Guest Account Policy removes guest access on managed Mac systems, which ensures that only authorized users can access the machine. The Built-in Guest Account Status Policy is the analogue for JumpCloud-managed Windows systems.

Both policies use the JumpCloud system agent to make changes directly to a system’s native settings, removing the need to manually configure them. Admins can deploy these policies remotely at scale across their entire Mac and Windows fleets.

Why Use Guest Account Policies?

Guest accounts can present unnecessary security risks to workstations. Although guest accounts are generally limited, they still open up the possibility of several crucial vulnerabilities. 

Installed Applications

One such vulnerability is the fact that guest accounts have access to applications installed directly on the system. By accessing these applications through a guest account, a bad actor can take critical financial or operational data stored in the app itself. This unrestricted access can be especially compromising with downloaded password management software. Beyond that, the hacker may also change login or operation information in the application to prevent later access or cause chaos in an organization. 

/tmp Directory

Besides local applications, guest accounts also provide access to a system’s /tmp directory. The /tmp directory houses a system’s temporary files, which are often created while running applications or other functions. An attacker on a guest account can make changes to this temporary data storage location to download malware or other malicious scripts to run and compromise a system.

In other scenarios, hackers have even used guest accounts to remotely access admin accounts on a system. Clearly, the pitfalls of a guest account outweigh any potential benefits. So, by using the Policies above, admins can guard all of their Mac and Windows systems from these types of attacks.

How to Implement the Guest Account Policies

The Disable Guest Account and Built-in Guest Account Status Policies, like all JumpCloud Policies, can be enabled through a few clicks in the Directory-as-a-Service admin portal. IT admins can apply Policies to individual systems or across entire system Groups as their needs dictate.

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Zach DeMeyer

Zach is a writer and researcher for JumpCloud with a degree in Mechanical Engineering from the Colorado School of Mines. He loves being on the cutting edge of new technology, and when he's not working, he enjoys all things outdoors, making music, and soccer.

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