Credentialed Checks on Windows

The process described in this section enables you to perform local security checks on Windows systems. Only Domain Administrator accounts can be used to scan Domain Controllers.

Video: Windows Credentialed Scanning

Note: To view the Windows operating systems that are compatible with Nessus, see Nessus Software Requirements.

Before you begin this process, ensure that there are no security policies in place that block credentialed checks on Windows, such as:

  • Windows security policies

  • Local computer policies (e.g. Deny access to this computer from the network, Access this computer from the network)

  • Antivirus or endpoint security rules


Configure a Domain Account for Authenticated Scanning

To create a domain account for remote host-based auditing of a Windows server, the server must first be a supported version of Windows and be part of a domain.

Create a Security Group called Nessus Local Access

  1. Log in to a Domain Controller and open Active Directory Users and Computers.
  2. To create a security group, select Action > New > Group.
  3. Name the group Nessus Local Access. Set Scope to Global and Type to Security.
  4. Add the account you will use to perform Nessus Windows Authenticated Scans to the Nessus Local Access group.

Create Group Policy called Local Admin GPO

  1. Open the Group Policy Management Console.
  2. Right-click Group Policy Objects and select New.
  3. Type the name of the policy Nessus Scan GPO.

Add the Nessus Local Access group to the Nessus Scan GPO

  1. Right-click Nessus Scan GPO Policy, then select Edit.
  2. Expand Computer configuration > Policies > Windows Settings > Security Settings > Restricted Groups.
  3. In the left navigation bar on Restricted Groups, right-click and select Add Group.
  4. In the Add Group dialog box, select browse and enter Nessus Local Access.
  5. Select Check Names.
  6. Select OK twice to close the dialog box.
  7. Select Add under This group is a member of:
  8. Add the Administrators Group.
  9. Select OK twice.

Nessus uses Server Message Block (SMB) and Windows Management Instrumentation (WMI). You must ensure Windows Firewall allows access to the system.

Allow WMI on Windows

  1. Right-click Nessus Scan GPO Policy, then select Edit.
  2. Expand Computer configuration > Policies > Windows Settings > Security Settings > Windows Firewall with Advanced Security > Windows Firewall with Advanced Security > Inbound Rules.
  3. Right-click in the working area and choose New Rule...​.
  4. Choose the Predefined option, and select Windows Management Instrumentation (WMI) from the drop-down box.
  5. Select Next.
  6. Select the check boxes for:
    • Windows Management Instrumentation (ASync-In)
    • Windows Management Instrumentation (WMI-In)
    • Windows Management Instrumentation (DCOM-In)
  7. Select Next.
  8. Select Finish.

Tip: Later, you can edit the predefined rule created and limit the connection to the ports by IP Address and Domain User to reduce any risk for abuse of WMI.

Link the GPO

  1. In Group policy management console, right-click the domain or the OU and select Link an Existing GPO.
  2. Select the Nessus` Scan GPO.

Configure Windows

  1. Under Windows Firewall > Windows Firewall Settings, enable File and Printer Sharing.
  2. Using the gpedit.msc tool (via the Run prompt), invoke the Group Policy Object Editor. Navigate to Local Computer Policy > Administrative Templates > Network > Network Connections > Windows Firewall > Standard Profile > Windows Firewall : Allow inbound file and printer exception, and enable it.
  3. (Windows 8 and earlier only) While in the Group Policy Object Editor, navigate to Local Computer Policy > Administrative Templates > Network > Network Connections > Prohibit use of Internet connection firewall on your DNS domain and ensure it is set to either Disabled or Not Configured.
  4. Enable the Remote Registry service (it is disabled by default). If the service is set to manual (rather than enabled), plugin IDs 42897 and 42898 will only enable the registry for the duration of the scan.

    Note: Enabling this option configures Nessus to attempt to start the remote registry service prior to starting the scan.

    The Windows credentials provided in the Nessus scan policy must have administrative permissions to start the Remote Registry service on the host being scanned.

  5. Open TCP ports 139 and 445 between Nessus and the target.
  6. Using either the AutoShareServer (Windows Server) or AutoShareWks (Windows Workstation), enable the following default administrative shares:

    • IPC$

    • ADMIN$

      Note: Windows 10 disables ADMIN$ by default. For all other operating systems, the three shares are enabled by default and can cause other issues if disabled by default. For more information, see
    • C$

Caution: While not recommended, Windows User Account Control (UAC) can be disabled.

Tip: To turn off UAC completely, open the Control Panel, select User Accounts, and then set Turn User Account Control to off. Alternatively, you can add a new registry key named LocalAccountTokenFilterPolicy and set its value to 1.

This key must be created in the registry at the following location: HKLM\SOFTWARE\Microsoft\ Windows\CurrentVersion\Policies\system\LocalAccountTokenFilterPolicy.

For more information on this registry setting, consult the MSDN 766945 KB. In Windows 7 and 8, if UAC is disabled, then EnableLUA must be set to 0 in HKEY_LOCAL_MACHINE\Software\Microsoft\Windows\CurrentVersion\Policies\System as well.