Annual "Patch Tuesday" report shows YoY growth of critical Microsoft vulnerabilities
97% of all critical security vulnerabilities reported by Microsoft can be mitigated by removing admin rights, according to new research from security software company, Avecto.
Avecto analyzed data from security bulletins issued by Microsoft throughout 2014, and found that the number of Microsoft vulnerabilities (242) with a critical severity rating increased 65% over the previous year. Furthermore, 80% of all Microsoft vulnerabilities - regardless of severity ranking - could be mitigated by removing admin rights.
The results also revealed that removing admin rights would mitigate 98% of critical vulnerabilities affecting Windows operating systems, 95% of critical vulnerabilities affecting Microsoft Office and 99.5% of vulnerabilities in Internet Explorer.
Microsoft bulletins are issued on the second Tuesday of each month, a date commonly known as Patch Tuesday, and provide solutions for known security issues.
User accounts with admin privileges are primary targets for exploit, as they provide unrestricted access to an endpoint, enabling malware to bury itself deep inside the operating system, cloak itself from detection and then spread more readily across the network. Employees with admin rights have the ability to install, modify and delete software and files. They can also change system settings, potentially introducing even more vulnerabilities.
"Our 2014 analysis highlights the continued benefits of stripping away admin rights," said Paul Kenyon, EVP of Avecto. "Time and time again, the removal of admin rights proves to be a simple and effective threat mitigation strategy - and yet many businesses are still overlooking this fundamental practice."
"There is a misconception that passive tools, like detection technologies, can provide adequate protection, and yet evidence clearly demonstrates that organizations can no longer afford to rely on reactive strategies to deal with the advanced nature of so many attacks."
Kenyon concluded: "Privilege Management is the first step that every organization should be taking to improve the security posture of all of their endpoints. It can mitigate the majority of advanced cyber-attacks, especially when layered with other proactive approaches, such as application control, patch management and sandboxing."
The full report can be downloaded here