Pro User
explore our new search
Microsoft Defender for Identity Recommended Actions: Disable Print spooler service on domain control
Image Source:
Feb 24, 2024 8:00 PM

Microsoft Defender for Identity Recommended Actions: Disable Print spooler service on domain control

by HubSite 365 about Raymond Roethof [MVP] (Microsoft Security Blog)

Microsoft Security MVP

Pro UserIdentityLearning Selection

Boost Your Security: How Disabling Print Spooler on Domain Controllers Protects Your Network

Key insights

  • In a detailed blog post, the importance of disabling the Print Spooler service on Domain Controllers is highlighted as a critical security measure. This action is part of Microsoft Defender for Identity's fourteen recommended actions aimed at strengthening an organization's security posture, leveraged by Microsoft Secure Score.

  • Print spooler, a default service in Windows operating systems, including Domain Controllers, has a history of vulnerabilities that can lead to serious security breaches. This includes allowing malicious actors to execute arbitrary code, making it a significant threat.

  • Disabling the print spooler service requires manual removal of print queues from Active Directory, a task that while tedious, is deemed necessary to mitigate the risks associated with the service. The use of PowerShell commands and Group Policy Object is suggested for managing this process efficiently.

  • Despite the inconvenience of manually managing printed objects in Active Directory, the potential security risks posed by the print spooler service far outweigh the drawbacks. Turning off the service is strongly recommended for all servers, especially Domain Controllers, that do not require print spooling capabilities.

  • Updates from Microsoft have added six more recommended actions to the original fourteen, making it a total of twenty critical steps for improving an organization's security landscape. These insights focus on preventing a full domain takeover by mitigating known vulnerabilities in the print spooler service.

Understanding Microsoft Defender for Identity and Its Role in Enhancing Security

Microsoft Defender for Identity plays a crucial role in enhancing the security posture of organizations by identifying and mitigating potential threats within the domain environment. It serves as a powerful tool that leverages advanced security analytics to detect, investigate, and respond to security threats aimed at exploiting identity vulnerabilities. By focusing on the identities within an organization, it casts a protective net over sensitive account attributes, reduces the risk of lateral movement, and curbs the exposure of clear-text credentials among other security risks.

Defender for Identity's integration with Microsoft Secure Score allows organizations to assess their security standing through a comprehensive set of recommended actions. These recommendations range from resolving unsecure domain configurations to managing local admin passwords effectively, each aimed at fortifying the domain against potential security threats. The importance of disabling unnecessary services such as the Print Spooler on Domain Controllers is underscored as a measure against the exploitation of known vulnerabilities. This proactive stance towards domain security is essential in today's rapidly evolving threat landscape, making Defender for Identity a valuable asset for any security-conscious organization.

In a comprehensive blog post by Raymond Roethof [MVP] on the Microsoft Security Blog, the focus is on Microsoft Defender for Identity's recommendation to disable the Print Spooler service on domain controllers. Microsoft Secure Score, a tool that provides insights into an organization's security posture based on various security-related measurements, leverages Microsoft Defender for Identity to offer fourteen recommended actions to enhance security. The blog aims to explore all fourteen recommended actions, detailing their importance, implementation plan, potential impact, and security advisories.

The series of recommended actions list provided by Microsoft Defender for Identity introduces essential steps towards securing domain configurations, account attributes, and reducing risks associated with lateral movement and clear text credentials exposure among others. One specific advisory is the disabling of the Print Spooler service on domain controllers, a step deemed critical due to the service's history of vulnerabilities. This post, in particular, promises to delve into why disabling the Print Spooler service is vital for domain controller security.

  • Resolve unsecure domain configurations
  • Resolve unsecure account attributes
  • Protect and manage local admin passwords with Microsoft LAPS
  • Configure VPN integration
  • Stop legacy protocols communication

The Print Spooler service, which manages printing tasks, has been identified as a significant security concern due to its vulnerabilities dating back to CVE-2021 and earlier. Running by default on almost all Windows operating systems, including Domain Controllers, this service has exposed systems to various security risks. The blog highlights the service's function in managing print queues within Active Directory and outlines the complexities involved in disabling it on Domain Controllers.

Arbitrary Code Execution vulnerabilities associated with the Print Spooler service, allowing malicious actors to run malicious code on targeted machines, are emphasized as a major concern. Using RpcAddPrinterDriverEx function as an example, the blog illustrates how malicious drivers can be uploaded to Domain Controllers, leading to potential complete domain takeovers. This underlines the critical nature of disabling the Print Spooler service where it is not explicitly needed, especially on Domain Controllers.

To disable the Print Spooler service on Domain Controllers, the blog recommends using a PowerShell command to check for any published printer in Active Directory. If no published printers are found, the service can be safely disabled across all Domain Controllers. Otherwise, manual removal of printers from Active Directory is necessitated when disabling the Print Spooler service. Group Policy Objects (GPO) are suggested as a method to enforce this setting across all Domain Controllers within an organization.

Concluding, the blog post emphasizes the significance of disabling the Print Spooler service on Domain Controllers due to its vulnerability and potential for complete domain takeover. Despite the manual effort required in managing printers within Active Directory, the security benefits of disabling the service far outweigh the inconveniences. Raymond Roethof's post is a valuable guide for organizations looking to improve their security posture by adhering to Microsoft Defender for Identity's recommended actions.

The Importance of Securing Domain Controllers

The security of domain controllers in a network environment is critical due to their central role in managing and storing Active Directory domain services. Protecting these controllers from vulnerabilities and potential exploits is paramount for maintaining the integrity and security of the entire network. Disabling unnecessary services, such as the Print Spooler service, plays a key role in minimizing the attack surface and preventing malicious actors from exploiting known vulnerabilities to gain unauthorized access or control. By following best practices and implementing recommended security measures, organizations can significantly mitigate the risks and enhance their overall security posture. The insights from Raymond Roethof's blog post underscore the importance of staying informed about potential vulnerabilities and taking proactive steps to safeguard against them.

Microsoft Defender for Identity offers a range of recommended actions to enhance security, among which disabling the Print Spooler service on domain controllers is highlighted. Microsoft Secure Score provides insights into an organization's security posture through various security-related measurements. Exploring these actions can significantly uplift an organization's defense mechanisms.

Key Recommendations

  • Resolve insecure domain configurations
  • Address unsecure account attributes
  • Remove dormant accounts from sensitive groups
  • Manage local admin passwords with Microsoft LAPS
  • Integrate VPN configurations
  • Minimize lateral movement risks
  • Prevent exposure of clear text credentials
  • Disable Print Spooler service on domain controllers
  • Avoid legacy protocols communication
  • Eliminate weak cipher usage

The Print Spooler service, despite its utility, presents a high-security risk, especially on Domain Controllers, due to its history with vulnerabilities. Disabling it can preempt potential cyber threats and secure the network's sensitive components against arbitrary code execution exploits.

When considering the disablement of the Print Spooler, it's imperative to manually handle the pruning of published printers in Active Directory. This action, although cumbersome, pales in comparison to the security benefits achieved from removing the service where it is not strictly necessary.

For administrators, it's advisable to employ PowerShell commands to audit published printers in Active Directory. Subsequent actions, such as disabling the Print Spooler service across Domain Controllers, can be efficiently executed using Group Policy Objects (GPO), ensuring a fortified security posture.

Understanding Microsoft Defender for Identity's Role in Securing Infrastructure

Microsoft Defender for Identity plays a crucial role in safeguarding organizational infrastructure from potential threats by providing actionable recommendations. Its integration with Microsoft Secure Score enables a comprehensive view of an organization's security landscape, identifying areas of vulnerability and suggesting improvements. The recommendation to disable the Print Spooler service on Domain Controllers is a testament to Microsoft's commitment to preemptively addressing security vulnerabilities that could otherwise lead to significant breaches. By following the recommendations outlined, organizations can significantly mitigate their exposure to security incidents, ensuring a robust defensive stance against evolving cyber threats. This proactive approach is essential in maintaining the integrity and confidentiality of sensitive information in today's digital age.

Identity - Secure Domain: Disable Print Spooler on Controllers - MS Defender

Read the full article Microsoft Defender for Identity Recommended Actions: Disable Print spooler service on domain control

People also ask

Can I disable Print Spooler on domain controller?

To deactivate the Print Spooler on a domain controller, proceed by expanding the Security Settings node and selecting System Services. Within the main pane, double-click on the Print Spooler service. Then, choose the option 'Define this policy setting' and set the service startup mode to Disabled. Ensure to close the Group Policy Management Editor window to save the changes you've made.

How do I stop the Print Spooler service?

To halt the Print Spooler service, open the Command Prompt and input the command net stop spooler, followed by pressing Enter. This command stops the Print Spooler. To restart it, enter net start spooler in the Command Prompt and press Enter once again.

Why is print spooling necessary?

Print spooling plays a crucial role in managing print jobs from computers by ensuring that printer resources are adequately allocated. It effectively schedules the sequencing of print jobs sent to the print queue for actual printing. This feature is especially pertinent, recalling the era when users had to wait for files to complete printing before they could proceed with other tasks on their personal computers.

What is the security risk of Print Spooler service?

The Windows Print Spooler service harbors a security flaw related to a remote code execution vulnerability arising from improper handling of privileged file operations by the service. If this vulnerability is exploited successfully, it could allow an attacker to execute arbitrary code with SYSTEM privileges, engendering significant security concerns.


Microsoft Defender for Identity, Recommended Actions, Disable Print Spooler, Domain Controllers, Security Best Practices, Active Directory Protection, Print Spooler Vulnerabilities, Enhancing Network Security, PrintNightmare Exploit, Mitigation Strategies