Removing admin rights stymies 92% of Microsoft's bugs
Bulk of IE's bugs in '08 could have been blocked, says vendor
Computerworld - Nine of out 10 critical bugs reported by Microsoft Corp. last year could have been made moot, or at least made less dangerous, if people ran Windows without administrative rights, a developer of enterprise rights management software claimed today.
BeyondTrust Corp., which touts its Privilege Manager as a way for companies to lock down PCs, tallied the individual vulnerabilities that Microsoft disclosed in 2008, then examined each accompanying security bulletin. If the bulletin's "Mitigating Factors" section, the part that spells out how to lessen the risk of attack or eliminate it entirely, said that users with fewer rights "could be less impacted than users who operate with administrative rights," BeyondTrust counted the bug.
The vast majority of critical Microsoft vulnerabilities -- 92% of them -- could have been mitigated by stripping users of administrative rights, said John Moyer, the CEO of BeyondTrust. "This speaks to what enterprises should be doing," Moyer said. "Clearly, eliminating administrative rights can close the window of opportunity of attack."
Of the 154 bugs published and patched by Microsoft in 2008, critical or not, 69% would have been blocked or their impact reduced by configuring users to run without administrative rights, said the company.
When BeyondTrust looked at the vulnerabilities patched for Microsoft's browser, Internet Explorer (IE), and its application suite, Office, it found that 89% of the former and 94% of the latter could have been stymied by denying users administrative privileges.
"We were surprised to see how large the number was," said Scott McCarley, the company's director of marketing. "It really drives home how critical a role [rights] play."
Microsoft's approach to user rights has been a matter of debate of late. Last week, a pair of bloggers posted proof-of-concept code that demonstrated how attackers could disable Windows 7's revamped User Account Control. UAC, a security feature that debuted in 2007 with Windows Vista, prompts users for their consent before Windows allows tasks such as program installations to continue.
"That proof-of-concept illustrates how important it is that users log in as a standard user, not as administrative users," said McCarley. Only users running Windows with administrative rights are vulnerable to the attack.
Microsoft has refused to call the Windows 7 UAC issue a security bug, and instead has insisted that the behavior exploited by the malicious script is by design.
Read more about Security in Computerworld's Security Topic Center.
- Silicon Valley's 19 Coolest Places to Work
- Is Windows 8 Development Worth the Trouble?
- 8 Books Every IT Leader Should Read This Year
- 10 Hot Hadoop Startups to Watch
- Slideshow: 7 security mistakes people make with their mobile device
- iOS vs. Android: Which is more secure?
- 11 sure signs you've been hacked
- Neustar 2014 DDoS Attacks and Impact Report For the third consecutive year, Neustar surveyed hundreds of companies on distributed denial of service (DDoS) attacks. The survey reveals evidence that the...
- Acxiom Case Study This case study, which focuses on Acxiom, explores how the company was able to secure employee data, reduce migration costs and boost productivity...
- Windows® XP Migration: Protect and Secure Critical Data With the end of the Microsoft Windows XP operating system's lifecycle on April 8, 2014, businesses are faced with the decision to migrate...
- Enhancing Application Protection and Recovery with a Modern Approach to Snapshot Management This CommVault Business Value and Technology White Paper explains how Simpana IntelliSnap® Recovery Manager can make your application recovery fast and reliable.
- Live Webcast LIVE EVENT: 5/7, The End of Data Protection As We Know It. Introducing a Next Generation Data Protection Architecture. Traditional backup is going away, but where does this leave end-users?
- LIVE EVENT: 5/7, The End of Data Protection As We Know It. Introducing a Next Generation Data Protection Architecture. Traditional backup is going away, but where does this leave end-users?
- On-demand webinar: "Mobility Mayhem: Balancing BYOD with Enterprise Security" Check out this on-demand webinar to hear Sophos senior security expert John Shier deep dive into how BYOD impacts your enterprise security strategy... All Security White Papers | Webcasts