Using Internet Explorer Enhanced Security Configuration on Terminal Servers

Hi, Axel Rivera again with information about IE Enhanced Security and how it could affect users when browsing from Terminal Servers.

As many of you know, when you first install Windows 2003 and 2008 Servers, IE Enhanced security is enabled. Because Internet Explorer Enhanced Security Configuration is applied only to servers, it typically affects only administrators and has little impact on users. This is true because users rarely log on to servers; few organizations allow users to log on to a server and then to start browsing the Internet. An exception to this rule is terminal servers. If Internet Explorer Enhanced Security Configuration is enabled on a terminal server, Internet Explorer Enhanced Security Configuration settings apply to any user logging on to that server. As a result, users may find it difficult to access Web sites or intranet resources.

If your users have only limited rights to the terminal server (as is usually the case), consider enabling Internet Explorer Enhanced Security Configuration for administrators but not for users. Having limited rights to the server means that the user can cause only a limited amount of damage if he or she accesses a Web site with malicious content. The limited damage might be preferable to the number of help desk calls that are likely to arise if users find themselves unable to access resources in the expected manner (particularly if those users are accustomed to accessing those resources without problem from their desktop computers).


If Terminal Servers users are unable to browse Internet or Intranet sites, one of the first troubleshoot action items is to determine if IE Enhanced Security is enabled. For more information see the troubleshoot section below on this document.

If you install Terminal Server by using unattended installation, consider disabling Internet Explorer Enhanced Security Configuration for both users and administrators (if you want to enable Internet Explorer Enhanced Security Configuration, enable it post-installation, or include the proper commands within your unattended answer file). If you attempt to install Terminal Server while Internet Explorer Enhanced Security Configuration is enabled, Windows prompts you with the message box shown in Figure 14.

Figure 14  Attempting to Install Terminal Server While Internet Explorer Enhanced Security Configuration is Enabled


If you decide to manage Internet Explorer Enhanced Security Configuration differently on terminal servers than you do on other servers, you must determine which computers are terminal servers and which ones are not. If all of your terminal servers are in the same organizational unit (OU) in Active Directory, this task is straight-forward. If this is not the case, you can use a script to determine whether a computer is a terminal server. A sample script that carries out this task is shown in Listing 17.

Listing 17   Identifying Terminal Servers

On Error Resume Next

strComputer = "atl-2003-01"

Set objWMIService = GetObject("winmgmts:!\\" & strComputer & "\root\cimv2")

Set colTerminalServiceSetting = objWMIService.ExecQuery _

("SELECT * FROM Win32_TerminalServiceSetting")

For Each objTerminalServiceSetting in colTerminalServiceSetting

If objTerminalServiceSetting.AllowTSConnections = 1 Then

Wscript.Echo "Terminal Server is enabled on this computer."


Wscript.Echo "Terminal Server is not enabled on this computer."

End If


If you enable or disable Internet Explorer Enhanced Security Configuration by using Group Policy, you can create a WMI filter that either includes or excludes terminal servers from the GPO. For example, suppose you want to enable Internet Explorer Enhanced Security Configuration on all of your computers running Windows Server 2003 that are not terminal servers. In that case, you can create a GPO and then use the following WMI filter to ensure that terminal servers are not affected by the policy:

Select * From Win32_TerminalServiceSetting Where AllowTSConnections <> 1

If you create a filter to exclude terminal servers from a GPO, the Manage WMI Filters dialog box will look similar to Figure 15.

Figure 15   Excluding Terminal Server from a GPO


Troubleshoot Steps/scenarios:

Article 933991 described most of the issues related to IE Enhanced security affecting regular users. It also outlines steps we must take to resolved these issues. Consider the issue to be related to default profiles with tattooed IE Harden settings inherited from the time the server was build and in order to remedy these issues, the default profile must be updated.

In other scenarios, where Security Zone policies are also implemented on servers where IE Enhanced Security is enable, it is important to understand that IE Enhanced Security will more likely override the IE Policy settings and should be disabled to fully benefit of IE Administrative and IE Maintenance policies.

Standard users cannot turn off the Internet Explorer Enhanced Security feature on a Windows Server 2003-based terminal server


Managing Internet Explorer Enhanced Security Configuration

Internet Explorer Enhanced Security Configuration changes the browsing experience



The IE Support Team

Comments (9)
  1. Buckeyetech says:

    I am having trouble with IE 8 update and Windows 2008 terminal services. The enhanced security setting are now on for normal users. They were off when I installed IE 8. I checked the Server panel and they show as off for normal users. If I log on with a normal user account and open IE 8 I get the box telling me the enhanced security settings are on. I uninstalled IE 8 and now 7 shows the same behavior. I don’t know how to fix this problem besides doing a restore from backup. Any ideas?


    Try this Batch File:

    :: Backup registry keys
    REG EXPORT “HKEY_LOCAL_MACHINESOFTWAREMicrosoftActive SetupInstalled Components{A509B1A7-37EF-4b3f-8CFC-4F3A74704073}” “%TEMP%.HKEY_LOCAL_MACHINE.SOFTWARE.Microsoft.Active Setup.Installed Components.A509B1A7-37EF-4b3f-8CFC-4F3A74704073.reg”
    REG EXPORT “HKEY_LOCAL_MACHINESOFTWAREMicrosoftActive SetupInstalled Components{A509B1A7-37EF-4b3f-8CFC-4F3A74704073}” “%TEMP%.HKEY_LOCAL_MACHINE.SOFTWARE.Microsoft.Active Setup.Installed Components.A509B1A8-37EF-4b3f-8CFC-4F3A74704073.reg”

    REG ADD “HKEY_LOCAL_MACHINESOFTWAREMicrosoftActive SetupInstalled Components{A509B1A7-37EF-4b3f-8CFC-4F3A74704073}” /v “IsInstalled” /t REG_DWORD /d 0 /f
    REG ADD “HKEY_LOCAL_MACHINESOFTWAREMicrosoftActive SetupInstalled Components{A509B1A8-37EF-4b3f-8CFC-4F3A74704073}” /v “IsInstalled” /t REG_DWORD /d 0 /f

    Rundll32 iesetup.dll, IEHardenLMSettings
    Rundll32 iesetup.dll, IEHardenUser
    Rundll32 iesetup.dll, IEHardenAdmin

    REG DELETE “HKEY_LOCAL_MACHINESOFTWAREMicrosoftActive SetupInstalled Components{A509B1A7-37EF-4b3f-8CFC-4F3A74704073}” /f /va
    REG DELETE “HKEY_LOCAL_MACHINESOFTWAREMicrosoftActive SetupInstalled Components{A509B1A8-37EF-4b3f-8CFC-4F3A74704073}” /f /va

    :: Optional to remove warning on first IE Run and set home page to blank. remove the :: from lines below
    ::REG DELETE “HKEY_CURRENT_USERSoftwareMicrosoftInternet ExplorerMain” /v “First Home Page” /f
    ::REG ADD “HKEY_CURRENT_USERSoftwareMicrosoftInternet ExplorerMain” /v “Default_Page_URL” /t REG_SZ /d “about:blank” /f
    ::REG ADD “HKEY_CURRENT_USERSoftwareMicrosoftInternet ExplorerMain” /v “Start Page” /t REG_SZ /d “about:blank” /f

    :: END


  2. Chris says:

    I have the same issue.  The batch file didn’t fix it.

  3. Jay says:

    Same problem, batch file didn’t work for me either. Any other ideas?

  4. Martyn Hughes says:

    Same problem, this is becoming a huge problem. This needs to be addressed, I’m guessing redirected folders may have something to do with it. I have switced it off, modified the registry (like above), tried GPO. NOTHING WORKS, users are still in high security mode.

    THis is very frustrating for all users.

  5. Joe Cox says:

    Has anyone found a fix for this yet?  It is causing problems for my Citrix Xenapp users on Server 2008 as well.  There must be a way to use GPO to turn off IE ESC for terminal server users.

  6. Gav says:

    GPO change in the Terminal Servers lock-down policy worked for me.

    Changed: "Computer Configuration>Administrative Templates>Windows Components>Internet Explorer>Internet Control Panel>Security Page>Internet Zone template" to Medium level

  7. Axel says:

    The batch file works, what it is that Windows 2008 have a time Refresh interval for their UI which is set to 2 minutes.

  8. The batch file worked for me. You are a life saver!!!

  9. xelo says:

    Normally, you ahve to run the batch under the user context to fix the problem. Also, enabling and diasable IE Enanced Securit from the UI will also fix the problem.

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