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Microsoft KB Archive/173939

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Knowledge Base

How to Identify the User Who Changed the Administrator Password

Article ID: 173939

Article Last Modified on 11/1/2006


  • Microsoft Windows NT Server 3.5
  • Microsoft Windows NT Server 3.51
  • Microsoft Windows NT Server 4.0 Standard Edition

This article was previously published under Q173939


Enabling auditing for user and group management will generate audit events when user or group accounts are changed. However, the events will list the security ID (SID) rather than the user name of the user who made the change.

For security purposes, it is often desirable to know the user name of the user who made the change. This can be accomplished by auditing changes on the registry key corresponding to the Administrator account.


This procedure should be performed at the console of the primary domain controller. This procedure should NOT be attempted over a WAN because of the large number of registry changes involved.

WARNING: Using Registry Editor incorrectly can cause serious, system-wide problems that may require you to reinstall Windows NT to correct them. Microsoft cannot guarantee that any problems resulting from the use of Registry Editor can be solved. Use this tool at your own risk.

  1. Open User Manager for Domains and select Audit from the Policies menu.
  2. Select Audit These Events and then enable Success and Failure audits for File and Object Access events.
  3. Click the OK button and close User Manager for Domains.
  4. Open REGEDT32.
  5. Select the window for the HKEY_LOCAL_MACHINE hive and select the SAM key.
  6. Select Permissions from the Security menu.
  7. Select the Change Permissions on Existing Subkeys checkbox.
  8. Change the ACE for the Administrators local group from Special to Full Control.
  9. Click OK to change the permissions.
  10. Go to the following key:


  1. Select Auditing from the Security menu and select the Audit Permission on Existing Subkeys checkbox.
  2. Add the Administrators local group to the list of names.
  3. Select the Administrators local group in the list of names, and enable Success and Failure auditing for Set Value events.
  4. Click the OK button and close Registry Editor.

If you want to restore the default permissions for the Administrators local group on the SAM key and its subkeys, give them the Write DAC and Read Control permissions only.

When any changes are made to the Administrator account, several events will be generated. The event indicating the user who made the change will be:

   ID: 560
   Source: Security
   Type: Success Audit
   Category: Object Access

This event will indicate the user who made the change, and the date and time of the change.

Additional query words: screen saver lock password protect

Keywords: kbhowto kbinfo KB173939