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Creating A Password Policy 

Every network needs to have a specific security policy defining all security-related options. This should also include a password and account policy defining how users and administrators should handle their passwords and user accounts.

Once you have your policies defined and down on paper, you can use the utilities that Windows NT 4 provides to enforce them. Settings that affect user accounts and passwords can be administrated through User Manager and User Manager For Domains. Just open the Policies menu and click Accounts. Here's a look at the settings you'll encounter in the Account Policy dialog box.

MAXIMUM PASSWORD AGE: This option specifies the number of days that passwords are valid. When the passwords get older than the number specified, users are prompted to create a new password.

MINIMUM PASSWORD AGE: This specifies the minimum number of days after which users can change their passwords. This setting works hand in hand with the Maximum Password Age and Password Uniqueness settings. For instance, administrators can define that users must change their password after 30 days and that the new password mustn't be the same as the previous three passwords. If administrators haven't set the Minimum Password Age, users can just make up three new passwords and then immediately go back to their previous password.

MINIMUM PASSWORD LENGTH: This setting is self-explanatory.

PASSWORD UNIQUENESS: This setting makes sure users actually use a password for some time, and it prevents users from using the same password all the time or from switching between two.

LOCKOUT AFTER: This option allows the system to lock the user account after a specified number of unsuccessful logon attempts.

RESET COUNT AFTER: This setting tells the system to automatically reset the counter of bad logon attempts after a specified time.

LOCKOUT DURATION: Once the account is locked out, this setting specifies whether the account is locked until an administrator unlocks it or is automatically unlocked after several minutes.

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