by Neil MacDonald | May 4, 2011 | Comments Off on Removing Administrator Rights for Windows Users is not “Lockdown”
In discussions with clients, I still run into some confusion on whether or not removal of administrator rights constitutes “lockdown”. Perhaps this was the case a few years ago with older Windows applications and Windows XP, but this is not the case today with Windows 7. For example:
- Standard users can install and execute well-written software on XP and Windows 7. For example Google’s Chrome and Firefox install just fine when users don’t have administrator rights.
- With Windows 7, standard users can install printer drivers.
- With Windows 7 and AXIS (Microsoft’s ActiveX Installer Service), standard users can install ActiveX controls that conform to policy within Internet Explorer.
- With Windows 7, standard users can now perform most of the standard day-to-day Windows functions that they couldn’t do on Windows XP including such things as changing time zones, changing monitor resolution, looking at (but not changing) firewall configuration, renewing a DHCP address and so on.
Net/Net – removing administrator rights from Windows users is not “lockdown”. This leads to two pieces of advice:
1) If you are removing administrator rights during the migration to Windows 7, don’t call this “lockdown”. For some reason, the term “lockdown” rubs users the wrong way. 😉 As an alternative, how about telling users they are receiving a “security-enhanced desktop”? Seriously, they aren’t administrators on their iPads or iPhones and you don’t hear too many complaints. We can achieve a similar outcome on Windows. For some situations, a third party tool for privilege management may be needed, but it can be done.
2) If you truly want a “locked down” environment where users cannot extend their workspace, you’ll need additional policies and controls to implement this such as Application Control / Whitelisiting technology.
I discuss how to successfully remove administrator rights from Windows users in detail in this research note for clients complete with a list of the top 14 or 15 best practices for this initiative.
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Category: beyond-anti-virus endpoint-protection-platform microsoft-security windows-7
Tags: apple beyond-anti-virus endpoint-protection-platform lockdown microsoft-security security-summit-na whitelisting windows
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