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Prevent Users From Reusing The Same Password

The security of your computer In preventing unauthorized access by anyone attempting to sign In, Is only as good as the local user account password that's used to protect It. If you're using the same password over and over again and a given user has knowledge of this, It's an open Invitation to the sensitive data stored on your PC's hard disk. As such, In this tutorial, I will show you how to prevent users from reusing the same local user account password.

Before I begin, do note that this pertains to local user accounts, and not those created with a Microsoft account. Whether It's a business environment or simply a home network, password reuse Is a commonality with users on every level. As a result, It's susceptible to being compromised with Incredible ease.

On the grounds that you've Implemented a password expiration policy (If you haven't, do so now!), whereby users are forced to change their local user account passwords every so often, It's Imperative that they do so, by using a different one each time.

By default on the Windows platform, passwords do not expire and you can use the same one as many times as you like, which Is a major security Issue In anyone's eyes. To fix this, I will demonstrate how to enforce a password history, which determines the number of unique (different) passwords that must be used before an old password can be reused.

In simple terms, users cannot use the same password repeatedly. To achieve this, I will use the good old Group Policy Editor, which Is only available In Windows 10 Pro, Enterprise and Education editions. So without further delay, let's get this tutorial started.

Step One:

The first thing you need to do, Is access the Group Policy Editor. Open the Run menu, enter gpedit.msc and hit OK as shown below.

Step Two:

The Group Policy Editor will now open, so navigate to the following directory.
Computer Configuration > Windows Settings > Security Settings > Account Policies > Password Policy

Make sure Password Policy Is selected and on the right pane, double-click Enforce password history.

Step Three:

Now In the Keep password history for Input field, enter a value of 24. This Is the maximum amount that can be entered. Essentially, users must use 24 different passwords, before their old password can be reused. When you've applied this, click OK to finalize the process.

Step Four:

The Implementation has now taken effect. Let's give It a test, by trying to change my password with the exact same one that I'm currently using. I've navigated to Windows Settings  > Accounts > Sign-In options > Change. It's now prompted to enter my Current password, so I've done exactly that and hit Next.

Step Five:

I've now entered my new password (which Is actually my currently-used password), then reentered It and hit Next.

Step Six:

The change of password process Is almost complete. Let's see what happens, when I click Finish.

Last Step:

As expected and as you can see, an error message has been returned Indicating that the password entered, doesn't meet the password policy requirements. Ultimately, I could not use my current password as the new password. Perfect!

Final Thoughts:

As you've realized, this Is a secure way to prevent users from reusing their currently-used password many times over In succession. The good thing about this Implementation, Is that the majority of users are not aware that It does In fact exist In the Group Policy Editor, and that's what makes It so effective.


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