Admin rights can be used by malware to install malicious software on local computers through the administrator account

Dark Reading Staff, Dark Reading

July 23, 2012

3 Min Read

WALTHAM, MA, July 23, 2012 – A recent survey of more than 600 IT security professionals, conducted by privilege management provider Viewfinity, found that the majority of respondents -- 68 percent -- do not know who in their organizations has local administrator rights.

Following the 68 percent who did not know who had local administrator rights, 20 percent said that between 15-30 percent of their user base still had administrator rights on their Windows-based endpoints. "Admin rights" can be used by malware to install malicious software on local computers through the administrator account. Further penetration into the IT environment is then accessible through this vulnerability allowing other security threats to enter a corporate network.

“One of the most popular ways to infiltrate servers is to exploit administrative rights on endpoints and, through that path, get into a position that allows for an attack on the vital part of the enterprise infrastructure,” said Leonid Shtilman, Viewfinity CEO. “Companies wouldn’t go without antivirus – so why would they give administrative rights to users when there is a way for properly managing privileges without exposing the company to unnecessary security risks?”

So why do users still have local admin rights? The survey showed that:

· 35 percent claim they need admin rights to do their job

· 30 percent said it’s because local admin rights have not been removed

· 19 percent said local admin rights are temporarily reinstated due to user need (i.e., "privilege creep")

· 16 percent did not know - they were unaware that they had admin rights

"We know from experience and from listening to our customers that when IT staff removes admin rights only to turn around and 'temporarily' grant rights to users who might need them for a specific usage, the number of users with administrative rights creeps up and up, until you no longer can keep track of who you gave rights to," said Shtilman. "This leads to what we call ‘privilege creep’ and it is a serious security risk for a considerable number of enterprises.”

“Once rights are gone, somehow they end up coming back. Maybe they’re "temporary" rights, accidental ones, or just more IT short-cutting to band-aid a quick problem. Over time, this uncontrolled privilege creep makes it difficult to audit where and why administrator rights have been applied. Left open, they leave the organization at risk,” said Greg Shields, MVP and Senior Partner, Concentrated Technology and noted author, speaker and IT consultant. “Managing administrative rights is no set-it-and-forget activity. You need tactics, tools, and answers that deliver proactive management and ensure successful auditing.”

About Viewfinity

Viewfinity provides privilege management and application control for desktops, laptops and servers, empowering enterprises to meet compliance mandates, reduce security risks, and lower IT costs. The Viewfinity solution allows enterprises to control end user and privileged user rights for applications and systems which require elevated permissions. Viewfinity's granular-level control enables companies to establish and enforce consistent policies for least privilege Windows-based environments based on segregation of duties. For more information, visit

Read more about:


About the Author(s)

Dark Reading Staff

Dark Reading

Dark Reading is a leading cybersecurity media site.

Keep up with the latest cybersecurity threats, newly discovered vulnerabilities, data breach information, and emerging trends. Delivered daily or weekly right to your email inbox.

You May Also Like

More Insights