What is WDigest Authentication

WDigest Authentication is a method used in Windows operating systems for verifying user credentials during authentication. It’s a way for computers to prove their identity to servers by storing a copy of the user’s plaintext password in memory. It uses Hypertext Transfer Protocol (HTTP) along with Simple Authentication Security Layer (SASL) exchanges for authentication purposes.


The name “WDigest” comes from its function and purpose within the Windows operating system. The “W” in “WDigest” stands for “Windows,” indicating that it is a feature or component specific to the Windows platform.


User Account Control Settings Hardening Guide (2024)


WDigest Introduces Security Risks


Digest Authentication is a legacy protocol in Windows operating systems that was designed to provide compatibility with older systems and applications. It introduces security risks by the storing of passwords making a vulnerability if someone hacks the system.


Disable WDigest Authentication


WDigest authentication is disabled in Windows 8.1 and in Windows Server 2012 R2; it is enabled by default in earlier versions of Windows and Windows Server.


Update KB2871997 must first be installed to disable WDigest authentication using this setting in Windows 7 Windows 8 Windows Server 2008 R2 and Windows Server 2012.Enabled: Enables WDigest authentication.


The recommended state is Disabled: Disables WDigest authentication. For this setting to work on Windows 7 Windows 8 Windows Server 2008 R2 or Windows Server 2012 KB2871997 must first be installed.


Before disabling, Microsoft recommends first seeing whether WDigest authentication is being used in your environment. To do this, review the event logs of your servers for occurrences of event ID 4624 and inspect the logs of your domain controller for event ID 4776 to identify any instances of users logging in using the ‘Authentication Package: WDigest’. After confirming there are no such events, you can proceed with making the registry change without causing any disruptions to your environment.


To establish the recommended configuration via GP to Disable WDigest Authentication set the following UI path to Disabled:


Computer Configuration\Policies\Administrative Templates\MS Security Guide\WDigest Authentication (disabling may require KB2871997)


Note: This Group Policy path does not exist by default. An additional Group Policy template (SecGuide.admx/adml) is required


protect data with confidence

Benefits of Automated Hardening


Automated configuration hardening of Digest authentication offers a comprehensive solution to strengthen systems and networks. With its efficiency, scalability, and auditing capabilities, automated hardening not only strengthens security posture but also enhances operational efficiency and compliance adherence.


Embracing automation in Digest authentication configuration represents a proactive step towards safeguarding sensitive data and maintaining a resilient cybersecurity posture in today’s dynamic threat landscape. Want to know more?

You might be interested