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Security in Context: The BeyondTrust Blog

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1 In 14 Could Cost You $129 Without Least Privilege

Posted May 24, 2011    Peter McCalister

Yep, this is a pretty esoteric title for today’s blog, but blame the late hour and the recent article in PC World about malicious code and downloaded software.
According to this article, “about one out of every 14 programs downloaded by Windows users turns out to be malicious.” This didn’t come from some random blogger or disgruntled day trader. It came from Microsoft’s own research and, according to the article, “even though Microsoft has a feature in its Internet Explorer browser designed to steer users away from unknown and potentially untrustworthy software, about 5 percent of users ignore the warnings and download malicious Trojan horse programs anyway.”

So the bottom line is that people can potentially take advantage of admin rights by downloading software and will have a 1 in 14 chance of infecting their computer with malicious code. This will then trigger a help desk call which can cost approximately $30 per incident and, according to Gartner Group $129 per PC annually.

If it can cost $129 per PC per year and it is known that people will ignore standard warnings when doing admin-related tasks such as downloading software from the internet, then why do IT directors continue to allow users to have full administrator privileges of their desktops? Especially when a least privilege solution can mitigate this risk and associated costs.

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