Back to Least Privilege Basics

BeyondTrust, March 17th, 2011

Least Privilege is something we’ve talked about before, and odds are good we’ll talk about it again. The reason it keeps coming up is because it’s important! It’s the key to securing Windows desktops, and it’s fundamental in the protection of root access.

Simply stated, the principle of least privilege means that a user must run with the least amount of privilege for the least being performed. And what does this mean for you? It means you should look closely at eliminating administrator rights from users who don’t absolutely need them, and elevate privileges for users who require them. Let’s take a look at a couple of scenarios that will better paint this picture.

Scenario A: A user in your company needs to install an application, and your IT department is slammed (as usual) and won’t be able to help for several hours. Now that user can’t install the application necessary for their job function, which results in loss of work and overall production.

 Scenario B: A user in your company is operating with full administrator rights, and is unfortunately a little too cavalier in their download habits. Because they are operating with admin rights, malware hijacks their computer and enters your database. Now your IT department has to get involved to fix and debug your system, which is both expensive and time-consuming.

 Both situations color the importance of least privilege and further emphasize how important it is to find the right amount of privilege for all end-users.