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Security In Context

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

Looking At Security From The Inside Out With Least Privilege

Post by Peter McCalister July 5, 2011

Many organizations have invested heavily in perimeter security, helping to protect against hackers and outside threats, but very few have addressed the weak link in the security chain. Users with excessive privileges are that weak link, and allowing users to make security decisions can have disastrous consequences.

Over the past several months, we have seen news articles describing more and more malware that is posing as legitimate software updates and anti-virus software. Once installed by the end user, the malware will infect a machine and then attempt to extort money from the end user to purchase the bogus fix for the infection. The main goal of the malware is to coerce users to give up their credit card details for the fix to remove the problem application. Recently, an article from PCWorld highlighted one such malware attack that leaves a machine running a Firefox browser potentially vulnerable to this malware.

In the comments section, a user emphatically discusses the importance to run as a standard user, not an administrator. Most malware of this type requires administrator privileges to install and get its hooks so deeply into the operating system. If more organizations removed administrator privileges from users, and if more home users ran without administrator privileges for day to day use, malware would have a much harder time infiltrating a system.

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