Interactive logon: Require smart card - security policy setting

Applies to

  • Windows 10

Describes the best practices, location, values, policy management, and security considerations for the Interactive logon: Require smart card security policy setting.


You may need to download the ADMX template for your version of Windows to enable this policy to be applied.


The Interactive logon: Require smart card policy setting requires users to log on to a device by using a smart card.

Requiring users to use long, complex passwords for authentication enhances network security, especially if the users must change their passwords regularly. This requirement reduces the chance that a malicious user will be able to guess a user's password through a brute-force attack. Using smart cards rather than passwords for authentication dramatically increases security because, with today's technology, it is nearly impossible for a malicious user to impersonate another user. Smart cards that require personal identification numbers (PINs) provide two-factor authentication: the user who attempts to log on must possess the smart card and know its PIN. A malicious user who captures the authentication traffic between the user's device and the domain controller will find it difficult to decrypt the traffic: even if they do, the next time the user logs on to the network, a new session key will be generated for encrypting traffic between the user and the domain controller.

Possible values

  • Enabled
  • Disabled
  • Not defined

Best practices

  • Set Interactive logon: Require smart card to Enabled. All users will have to use smart cards to log on to the network. This requirement means that the organization must have a reliable public key infrastructure (PKI) in place, and provide smart cards and smart card readers for all users.


Computer Configuration\Windows Settings\Security Settings\Local Policies\Security Options

Default values

The following table lists the actual and effective default values for this policy, by server type or Group Policy Object (GPO). Default values are also listed on the policy's property page.

Server type or GPO Default value
Default Domain Policy Not defined
Default Domain Controller Policy Not defined
Stand-Alone Server Default Settings Disabled
DC Effective Default Settings Disabled
Member Server Effective Default Settings Disabled
Client Computer Effective Default Settings Disabled

Policy management

This section describes features and tools that are available to help you manage this policy.

Restart requirement

None. Changes to this policy become effective without a device restart when they are saved locally or distributed through Group Policy.

Policy conflict considerations


Group Policy

This policy setting can be configured by using the Group Policy Management Console (GPMC) to be distributed through GPOs. If this policy is not contained in a distributed GPO, this policy can be configured on the local computer by using the Local Security Policy snap-in.

Security considerations

This section describes how an attacker might exploit a feature or its configuration, how to implement the countermeasure, and the possible negative consequences of countermeasure implementation.


It can be difficult to make users choose strong passwords, and even strong passwords are vulnerable to brute-force attacks if an attacker has sufficient time and computing resources.


For users with access to computers that contain sensitive data, issue smart cards to users and configure the Interactive logon: Require smart card setting to Enabled.

Potential impact

All users of a device with this setting enabled must use smart cards to log on locally. So the organization must have a reliable public key infrastructure (PKI) as well as smart cards and smart card readers for these users. These requirements are significant challenges because expertise and resources are required to plan for and deploy these technologies. Active Directory Certificate Services (AD CS) can be used to implement and manage certificates. You can use automatic user and device enrollment and renewal on the client.