A secure attention key (SAK) is a special key or key combination to be pressed on a computer keyboard before a login screen must be trusted by a user. The operating system kernel, which interacts directly with the hardware, is able to detect whether the secure attention key has been pressed. When this event is detected, the kernel starts the trusted login processing.
The secure attention key is designed to make login spoofing impossible, as the kernel will suspend any program, including those masquerading as the computer's login process, before starting a trustable login operation.
Users must always be suspicious of login prompts that are displayed, without having pressed this key combination.
In Microsoft Windows this is handled by the Winlogon component.
Other articles related to "key, secure attention key":
... To prevent this, some operating systems require a special key combination (called a Secure attention key) to be entered before a login screen is presented, for example Control-Alt-Delete ... that appear without having pressed this secure attention key ... interacts directly with the hardware, can detect whether the secure attention key has been pressed, so it cannot be intercepted by third party programs (unles ...
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