Data Centers

Creating a logon warning message for your server

What's to keep users from logging on at your Windows servers if they get physical access to them? Nothing. Not even a warning. In this Daily Feature, John Sheesley shows you how to create a legal logon warning message for your servers.

Chances are you keep your Windows servers locked up in a secure area. Nevertheless, sometimes you must locate your servers in an open area where users can easily walk up to them. And the major drawback to Windows is that if a user can log on to the server, they can cause a lot of mischief.

If a user walks up to a Windows server and presses [Ctrl][Alt][Del] to log on, both Windows NT and Windows 2000 will happily let the user provide a user ID and password without issuing a warning. Fortunately, by making a few changes to your server’s registry, you can display a warning before any user logs on to the server.
This Daily Feature explains ways for you to make changes to your server’s registry. Make sure you have complete backups of your server before performing any technique in this article. If you make a mistake when making changes to your server’s registry, you may cause your server to be unbootable, requiring a reinstallation of Windows. Proceed with extreme caution.
Forewarned is forearmed
Warnings you issue at logon time can have two benefits. First, they can remind your users about the dangers they can create by trying to log in at your server. Second, you can use them to issue legal warnings about illegally accessing computer equipment. Sometimes legal warnings are more effective than merely stating the potential problems users can cause on the server or issuing threats of bodily harm.

To create the warnings, log on to your server as Administrator or as a user with administrator rights. Start the registry editor by selecting Run from the Start menu and typing regedt32 in the Open text box. Click OK to start the Registry Editor.

When the Registry Editor window opens, navigate the left pane until you get to the KEY_LOCAL_MACHINE\SOFTWARE\Microsoft\Windows NT\CurrentVersion\Winlogon hive. In the right pane, look for two values: LegalNoticeCaption and LegalNoticeText.

If they don’t exist, you’ll need to add them one at a time. To do so, select Add Value from the Edit menu. When the Add Value menu appears, enter the name of each value in the Value Name field exactly as listed above. Check to make sure that the Data Type list box contains the value of REG_SZ. Click OK when you’ve finished.

You’ll then see the String Editor screen. In the String field, enter the message or caption that you want to appear in your warning box. You can make the strings as big as you want, but don’t make them too long. Users may not read them, or the warning box may be too large to be effective.

For example, for the LegalNoticeCaption value, you might enter a string saying “Danger Will Robinson,” and for the LegalNoticeText value, you might enter a string saying “This is a network server. Log on under penalty of death.” You don’t need to include the quotation marks. Click OK to save the string.

If the LegalNoticeCaption and LegalNoticeText values exist, all you have to do is highlight each value in the right pane and press [Enter]. You’ll then see the String Editor as mentioned above, and you can enter the message you want to appear.

After you’ve changed or added the keys, you’re finished. Log off your server and press [Ctrl][Alt][Del] to log on again. Your warning message will now appear on the screen. Click OK or press [Enter] to clear it. Then you can log on to your server as you normally would.
The authors and editors have taken care in preparation of the content contained herein but make no expressed or implied warranty of any kind and assume no responsibility for errors or omissions. No liability is assumed for any damages. Always have a verified backup before making any changes.

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