Organizations can avoid 94 percent of critical Microsoft vulnerabilities just by killing admin rights

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When vulnerabilities are found in Microsoft products, collective breaths are held until the company releases security bulletins. But analysis of security issues by software manufacture Avecto shows that the overwhelming majority of these vulnerabilities can be mitigated against by simply removing administrator right from users.

Avecto CEO Mark Austin and CTO Marco Peretti say that organizations need to address the problem of “over privileged users”. The duo say that this would help to avoid the security problems caused by 94 percent of critical vulnerabilities in Microsoft products. The research also found that Windows 10 had the highest proportion of vulnerabilities of any operating system.

While the report does not downplay the significance of vulnerabilities, nor deny that Microsoft needs to address them, it does highlight the fact that organizations can do a lot more to protect themselves — and it need not be in the least bit expensive. The Microsoft Vulnerabilities Report 2016 shows that privilege management should be seen as a cornerstone of security, and it is something that can be very easily implemented.

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Avecto highlights the following points from its finding:

  • In total, 530 Microsoft vulnerabilities were reported in 2016, with 36 percent (189) given a critical severity rating. Of these critical vulnerabilities, 94 percent were found to be mitigated by removing admin rights, up from 85 percent reported last year.
  • Despite being Microsoft’s newest and “most secure” operating system, Windows 10 was found to have the highest proportion of vulnerabilities of any OS (395), 46 percent more than Windows 8 and Windows 8.1 (265 each). Avecto’s report found that 93 percent of Windows 10 vulnerabilities could be mitigated by removing admin rights.
  • 100 percent of vulnerabilities impacting Internet Explorer could be mitigated by removing admin rights, including 100 percent of the vulnerabilities affecting the latest browser, Edge.
  • Microsoft Office products were the subject of 79 vulnerabilities, up from 62 last year. This represents a 295 percent increase in Office vulnerabilities since 2014. Of the 79 vulnerabilities impacting Office, 17 were classed as Critical, meaning that all businesses using the software were potentially vulnerable to attack.

Peretti says: “it’s clear from this year’s findings just how significant the removal of admin rights is to mitigate the risk of many of the cyber threats we face.” He goes on to say:

Privilege management and application control should be the cornerstone of your endpoint security strategy, building up from there to create ever stronger, multiple layers of defense. These measures can have a dramatic impact on your ability to mitigate today’s attacks. Times have changed; removing admin rights and controlling applications is no longer difficult to achieve.

You can download the full report from Avecto.

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Image credit:Gil C / Shutterstock

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