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Security In Context

Bringing you news and commentary on solutions and strategies for protecting your critical IT infrastructure.

Another Reminder Why It’s Important to Eliminate Admin Rights

Post by Peter McCalister September 27, 2011

According to a recent CNET News article, the hacker known as Comodohacker is now threatening to exploit Microsoft’s Windows Update service. This comes on the heels of Microsoft’s misstep of inadvertently offering an early look at the latest Patch Tuesday updates for 15 vulnerabilities in Windows, Office and Server products.

“I’m able to issue Windows update–Microsoft’s statement about Windows Update and that I can’t issue such update is totally false. I already reversed ENTIRE Windows update protocol, how it reads XMLs via SSL which includes URL, KB no, SHA-1 hash of file for each update, how it verifies that downloaded file is signed using WinVerifyTrust API, and…Simply I can issue updates via Windows update!” – Comodohacker.

In 2010, Microsoft published more than 100 security bulletins and provided patches for 256 vulnerabilities and the vast majority of security threats from Microsoft vulnerabilities can be mitigated if users do not have unnecessary admin rights.

While Comodohacker’s claims have not been substantiated at this point, according to Microsoft, only Windows updates that are signed by the Microsoft Root Certificate Authority are allowed to be installed via the Windows update process. Regardless of this threat, this is a stark reminder why it so very important that organizations eliminate admin rights for users.

When you allow your users to run as a local admin, you are opening your enterprise to serious security issues. You may think you’re saving money by allowing this instead of multiple calls to the help desk, but in reality you’re risking much more than money.

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