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Are there any security concerns one should be aware of if you're using Windows' default workgroup as the workgroup? (Or is worrying just tinfoiling?)

Should it be commonplace to rename the workgroup to something personal/unique after Windows installation?

Are there any other benefits in renaming the workgroup from the default besides making it to look more describing? Ie. is renaming worth the hassle as it makes the workgroup generally less accessible? It is used in local area network after all.

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up vote 7 down vote accepted

Speaking of "any", yes. If you do not rename it, anyone can easily see your computers. However, that's just security by obscurity, you don't have to belong to same workgroup to access shares. It's just for Explorer "my neighborhood" view. You should protect your shares (whenever appropriate) with passwords.

Being on same workgroup do not grant any additional privileges.

Renaming it is not worth the hassle:

  • Advantage: other people with default workgroup can't immediately see your computer(s). But with very very tiny amount of work they are in same workgroup, or just scanned your computers with any available tool.
  • Disadvantage: it's unnecessary work.
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Nicely summerized. I want to highlight "You should protect your shares (whenever appropriate) with passwords." - always a good idea! – edusysadmin Feb 27 '11 at 14:40
@edusysadmin: thanks. I added "whenever appropriate", because it's not always - sometimes you really want to share files without passwords (but probably as a read-only share, but still). – Olli Feb 27 '11 at 14:46

I used to run penetration teams and can say that using default anything, including workgroups is always a security concern. That being said, if you have any “Audit” requirements, you can bet they will flag the default settings.

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