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Least Privilege Legacy Apps and the Desktop “Wild West”: Part 1

Posted January 25, 2011    Peter McCalister

Whenever we hear the phrase “Wild West”, the first words that come to mind are old, insecure, and vulnerable. Any old western featuring Clint Eastwood or John Wayne depicts all of these descriptions.

And coincidentally “Wild West” provides the perfect analogy for the way an enterprise’s remaining legacy infrastructure interfaces with a Windows desktops environment. Though often overlooked, every IT Administrator must face the challenge of managing legacy applications that simply will not run unless individual desktops are configured for administrator access. This remains a challenge in an enterprise Windows’ desktop environment, whether a company has 100 or 10,000 seats.
The Duke
As we have detailed elsewhere, currently, there are two options available to administrators:

Option 1: Adopt best practice of removing administrative rights. Result: Overwhelms help desk with support calls and hampers productivity.

Option 2: Grant users administrative privileges. Result: Can provide access points for malware, hackers, insider threats; and, the less reported though still equally damaging, ‘fat fingered’ unintentional error.

However, what has not been clear until now is that IT Administrators and Helpdesk Operatives that choose option 2 for the sake of productivity, and thus leave their desktop environment unnecessarily exposed, are not being cavalier or necessarily neglectful. The fact is they are left with no other choice because without their legacy applications running efficiently, productivity would come to a halt.

This is the conclusion of our recent survey of 185 IT Administrators and Help Desk Operatives who are collectively responsible for over 250,000 individual Windows’ desktops, in EMEA and North America, which we publish today in our report: Legacy Applications and Least Privilege Access Management

During this week and next, we’ll be reporting on the findings which reveal the reality of IT Administrators task of juggling the configuration of multiple legacy applications on which the company relies, with the task of keeping desktops secure and compliant.

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