Best Practices for Removing End-User Administrator Rights on Windows

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Summary

Removing administrator rights from end users is one of the single most-effective ways to improve overall security posture, but it must be well-planned to avoid common pitfalls and a failed project.

Table of Contents

  • Analysis
    • Agree on the Problem You're Trying to Solve, and Understand the Limitations of Removing Administrator Rights
    • Don't Overlook the Cultural and Political Challenges of Removing Administrator Rights
    • Survey and Test Applications and Usage Scenarios to Understand Administrator Access Requirements
    • Use the Migration to Windows 7 as a Catalyst for the Switch to Running as a Standard User
    • Have a Definitive Plan for How Browser Plug-Ins Will Be Handled
    • Have a Definitive Plan for How Drivers Will Be Handled
    • Plan for Additional Controls If the Goal Is to Keep End Users From Installing Software
    • Consider the Use of Third-Party Tools That Can Elevate Privileges for Exceptions
    • Design and Staff an Exception Process for When End Users Need Unapproved Software
    • Design and Staff a Process for Application Approval
    • Consider Full Virtualization as an Alternative
    • Require Application Vendors to Change
    • Tying It All Together: Don't Try to Remove Administrator Rights From All Users
  • Recommended Reading
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