ASP.NET 2.0 Security Guidelines - Windows Authentication

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- J.D. Meier, Alex Mackman, Blaine Wastell, Prashant Bansode, Andy Wigley, Kishore Gopalan

Choose Windows Authentication When You Can

When possible, use Windows authentication to authenticate your users. By using Windows authentication with Active Directory, you benefit from a unified identity store, centralized account administration, enforceable account and password policies, and strong authentication that avoids sending passwords over the network.

Enforce Strong Password Policies

To help ensure that users cannot guess one another's passwords and to help prevent successful dictionary attacks in the event your password store is compromised, enforce strong passwords through Active Directory policy. To enforce a strong password policy:

  • Set password length and complexity. Strong passwords are eight or more characters and must include both alphabetical and numeric characters. The default enforced by the ActiveDirectoryMembershipProvider is seven characters with at least one non-alphanumeric character. If you use this provider, the provider settings are checked first, followed by the Active Directory settings. Users must supply passwords that conform to the stronger of the two.
  • Set password expiration. Passwords that expire regularly reduce the likelihood that an old password can be used for unauthorized access. Frequency of expiration is usually guided by a company's security policy. You should define this in Active Directory.

For more information on forms authentication, see How To: Use Windows Authentication in ASP.NET 2.0.

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