[ISN] Security UPDATE -- Limit Your Exposure: Don't Use
Administrative Accounts -- March 2, 2005
isn at c4i.org
Thu Mar 3 02:50:02 EST 2005
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1. In Focus: Limit Your Exposure: Don't Use Administrative Accounts
2. Security News and Features
- Recent Security Vulnerabilities
- Numerous Security Flaws in Web Browsers Remain Unpatched
- Microsoft Adds Security Guidance Center for Small Businesses
3. Security Toolkit
- Security Matters Blog
- Security Forum Featured Thread
4. New and Improved
- 256-Bit SSL Certificates
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==== 1. In Focus: Limit Your Exposure: Don't Use Administrative
by Mark Joseph Edwards, News Editor, mark at ntsecurity / net
You're probably well aware that running your desktop while logged on
as an administrator can be risky. The reason of course is that
administrators have full authority on the system, so any program that
launches under an administrative account can perform almost any
action you can think of.
As you'll learn if you read the Security Matters blog item "Windows
Firewall: Another Good Reason Not to Login as Administrator"
( http://list.windowsitpro.com/t?ctl=3E02:4FB69 ), spyware
peddlers have already developed a way of adding their programs to the
Windows Firewall's list of trusted applications. The spyware
application simply adds a registry subkey that references the
application under the subkey that stores trusted applications. Any
trusted application is allowed to send traffic out of the computer.
However, adding a subkey to the list of trusted applications works
only if the user is logged on with administrative authority. So now
you know one more reason why administrative accounts should be used
Mark Minasi recently wrote an interesting editorial in Windows IT Pro
UPDATE--Special Edition titled "Follow-Up: Why Microsoft Can't Stop
Root Kits." Minasi pointed out that the primary leverage an intruder
has is a user logged on with an administrative account.
In a message posted to the Bugtraq mailing list, Chris Wyposal
pointed out that "The security problem that has created the spyware
malaise on Windows is the default Windows installation for home
users, which creates the user's named account in the Administrators
group. When this account is used to browse the Internet there is no
protection to prevent spyware/malware from bypassing security
mechanisms, such as the XP SP2 firewall, by exploiting
vulnerabilities or tricking the user."
Wyposal's statement is true. The same thing goes for corporate users
who use an administrative account primarily for visiting networks
external to their company network. Wyposal also made the interesting
prediction that due to the problem of spyware and malicious software,
Microsoft will eventually change the Windows installation process so
that at least two accounts are created: one for administrative use
and another with limited permissions for everyday and Internet use.
Any of you who've used a Unix-based or Linux-based system know that
this sort of dual-account use is standard practice. You log on with a
regular user account, and when you need administrative privileges,
you can use the "su" (super user) command to temporarily elevate your
privileges, log out and log back in as "root" or some other
administrative account, or create another logon session on your
Windows also lets users elevate their privileges, but this capability
isn't used nearly as often as it should be. You probably know this
already, but I'll point it out in case any readers are unaware: A
simple way to elevate your privileges for specific application use in
Windows is to use the RunAs feature, which lets you run programs
under any account context provided that you supply the corresponding
account password. This feature works great even for desktop systems
on which some applications might not work correctly except under an
account with some level of administrative authority. If you need help
figuring out how to use RunAs, then check the articles at Microsoft's
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==== 2. Security News and Features ====
Recent Security Vulnerabilities
If you subscribe to this newsletter, you also receive Security
Alerts, which inform you about recently discovered security
vulnerabilities. You can also find information about these
Numerous Security Flaws in Web Browsers Remain Unpatched
Dozens of security-related problems remain unpatched in the
Microsoft Internet Explorer (IE), Mozilla Firefox, and Opera Web
browsers. According to security solution provider Secunia, which
tracks vulnerabilities in more than 4000 products, some of the
unpatched browser vulnerabilities are considered to be either
moderately or highly critical.
Microsoft Adds Security Guidance Center for Small Businesses
Microsoft added a new Security Guidance Center to its Small
Business Center Web site. The new content provides security
information and advice to help businesses create a safer network
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==== 3. Security Toolkit ====
Security Matters Blog
by Mark Joseph Edwards, http://list.windowsitpro.com/t?ctl=3E0C:4FB69
Windows Firewall: Another Good Reason Not to Login as Administrator
Administrator rights are dangerous enough already. Combine them
with Windows Firewall protecting a system, and somebody from outside
your network might be able to bypass the firewall.
by John Savill, http://list.windowsitpro.com/t?ctl=3E08:4FB69
Q. How can I configure Group Policy-based scripts to display when
Find the answer at
Security Forum Featured Thread: Annoying Files That Continually
A forum participant is wondering about two files on his system,
wkwgww.exe and hnhihh.exe. He thinks the files are related due to the
file names. He has the latest updates for his antivirus and
antispyware scanners, but those tools don't detect anything
suspicious about the two files. When he deletes the files, they
reappear on the system. Join the discussion at
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