Eliminating local admin rights from Microsoft Windows users is not just a nice thing you should do, but in fact a mandatory best practice for all of today’s enterprises wishing to stay secure and compliant.
There are three things a user can do if they have administrator (admin) rights which can dramatically effect your corporation’s security and compliance standing:
- Take the PC out of the domain: Taking your local machine or laptop out of the domain means that corporate policies managed by Group Policy are no longer in effect and the user now has the ability to break security practices and cause harm such as sharing sensitive data that would otherwise have been protected.
- Modify IP addresses: This could allow the user to surf the web anonymously potentially creating a compliance or even a legal issue if he (or she) is perpetrating fraud. Even more points go to the industrious insider who succeeds at IP spoofing: using someone else’s IP address to perpetrate a crime and then return to their original IP address to cover their tracks.
- Hack the registry: This is the most serious of the issues as once you do this , you can modify security settings, modify application settings, modify anything in the registry and effectively implement any malware or rogue program desired.
Each of these things done independently can cause significant problems for the IT department, internal help desk, Chief Security and/or Compliance Officer as well as the outside auditors.