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Least Privilege Windows Architecturally Speaking

Posted November 30, 2011    Peter McCalister

We’ve talked about least privilege throughout thisblog over the past two years at length, but why should a desktop user care? Ultimately, a user needs admin rights on the desktop to:
-Run system tasks
-Install software (even active X controls from the Web)
-Run existing applications built to require admin privileges

least privilege architecture

An effective least privilege solution implemented for desktops will transparently plug into Active Directory and Group Policy in order to manage the elevation of privileges based on role and policy. This is what is called least privilege because you get the minimum amount of privilege in order to do a specific task only when it is needed. If the user has no privilege, then every attempt to do these tasks will be met with a UAC prompt asking for more privilege; if the user already has admin rights, then they are at risk for inten- tional, accidental, or indirect damage to their data.

Without least privilge a desktop user has either too much privilege (being setup as the default admin) or too little privilege (being set as standard user). If they have too much privilege then they can misuse that intentionally, accidentally or indirectly. If they have too little then help desk costs will rocket up while productivity falls quickly.

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