If you haven’t read our latest Microsoft Vulnerabilities Report yet, then you may be unaware of how dramatically vulnerabilities have risen in the past five years. In fact, since 2013, vulnerabilities have more than doubled (111%) – leaving many organizations feeling concerned and cautious.
Jake Williams, President of Rendition InfoSec and one of the many influencers we spoke to for the report, was quick to highlight important mitigation strategies you can put in place to maintain a strong security posture:
“Removing admin rights from your users is one of the most important things you can do to mitigate vulnerabilities. Some organizations believe that user account control (UAC) will protect them, but attackers know of many methods to silently bypass UAC popups. Even Microsoft says that UAC is not a security control. By removing administrative rights from your users, you ensure that the attacker cannot take full control of a machine even if a vulnerability is exploited.”
His words are strongly supported by a fundamental discovery in the 2017 report which found that over the last five years, 88% of total critical vulnerabilities could have been mitigated simply by removing admin rights. Jake went on to highlight the importance of patching, along with some key considerations when it comes to assigning admin rights in your organization:
“Ideally all machines would be patched immediately and users wouldn’t have local admin on their machines. But we live in the real world and often organizations are dealing with years of technical debt and poor architecture decisions. We often have to prioritize our remediation actions. When prioritizing patching and removing admin rights, consider a few relevant points:
Does this user have access to particularly sensitive information (perhaps with regulatory compliance requirements)? Is the machine being used exposed directly to the Internet (e.g. mail or web server)? Is the machine regularly used to surf the Internet or open email from outside the organization? If the answer to any of these questions is yes, prioritize patching this machine and removing administrative rights from the users who log in there.”
Jake concludes, “Removing admin rights won’t prevent a vulnerability from being exploited, but it will limit what an attacker can do after they gain initial access. If the attacker doesn’t have local admin, they’re likely to make a lot of noise trying to get it, and this creates opportunities for detection, putting you back on the winning team.”
Jonathan Clarke, Content Marketing Manager
With a Master's Degree in English Language and Media, Jonathan has a genuine passion for producing compelling and thoroughly researched cybersecurity content. Coupled with a B2B agency background, he is adaptable to a wide range of industry topics, and also looks after BeyondTrust's Public Relations and social media channels. A huge animal lover, he is the proud 'father' of Simba, a very hyperactive German Shepherd dog.