Recently updated on March 21st, 2023

Between the years 2018 to 2022, cybersecurity threats increased by 47%. As the world around us goes digital and we continue to rely on technology for workplace productivity, we only expect this percentage to continue to rise throughout the upcoming years. So, what can you do to secure your network? We recommend starting with removing admin rights from your users.

With administrative rights, users can enjoy the freedom of making changes to the system without contacting the IT department. Individuals with the rights can easily add and remove programs, install software, and make ongoing changes without feeling like they are bogging down the IT department with frequent requests. In theory, it sounds like a good idea. However, while this may have its advantages, it can also be detrimental to your network security.

Here’s everything you need to know:

What Are Admin Rights?

Admin rights are the highest permission levels an individual user can have. Admin users can access all networks in the system and can freely make changes as they please. These individuals have the right to delete network files, install software, change system settings, and make any updates to the system.

Why Should You Remove Admin Rights?

When you let administrator rights go unmanaged, it’s a high-security risk for your company. These individuals have the power to make substantial changes to the server that pose a serious threat to the system and the users on the system. By removing their admin rights, you can limit the spread of different malware and considerably reduce internal and external threats to your system.

Reduce the Risk of External Threats

Let’s say your company experiences a cyberattack. If the attacker hacks a user account with admin rights, it can be disastrous for your organization. The hacker would be able to easily:

  • Install unwanted malware
  • Disable antivirus software
  • Encrypt your system data with ransomware
  • Laterally move within the system
  • Turn your system against your organization

The worst part? It’s easier than it seems.

If the user with administrative rights doesn’t have a strong enough password, the attacker can use this as an entry point. Once they figure out the password and find which devices they have admin rights on, it’s all downhill from there.

Risks like this are inevitable, and the only way to get them under control is by removing the admin rights from the users and upgrading your security solutions. If admin rights were removed the issue would not be able to spread through the entire system. You’d have the opportunity to isolate the problem to that one user, saving you a world of trouble.

Eliminate Internal Threats

We’re all only human, and individuals in the workplace make errors. However, the wrong mistake could lead to a big issue. An individual with admin rights can accidentally install malicious apps, create a backdoor for third parties, or mishandle sensitive data.

Keep in mind: Just because you remove admin rights from everyday users in the system doesn’t mean you eliminate all insider threats that can occur.

It also doesn’t mean that will always happen, but according to Murphy’s law, “anything that can go wrong, will go wrong.” The best way to remedy these problems is with prevention. Prevention is key to protecting your business from unwanted privilege misuse.

There are several internal risks that individuals are subject to, with or without these admin rights. The best way to prevent these risks is with ongoing prevention training courses to ensure that these risks are top of mind for the employees at a company.

Some of the ongoing risks that employees are prone to include:

  • Clicking unsafe links in emails
  • Accidentally giving information to third parties through CEO fraud or impersonation
  • Use an infected USB stick on the workstation
  • Set a weak password or share their password with coworkers

Tips for Handling Administrative Rights in the Workplace

Less Privilege, More Network Security

Consider what privileges administrative rights provide that are important to the everyday user. You may want to eliminate administrative rights if you can’t think of any. Turn it into a best practice to assign a user with as little privilege as possible. If you need to give out administrative rights, only grant it upon request during a particular time frame.

Create a Second Local Admin Account

If an individual needs to make OS changes, consider creating a separate local admin account. You can configure UAC to ask for credentials when admin privileges are necessary. That way, they don’t always have access to the admin rights and need to authenticate as the admin every time they need to implement changes.

Consider Privilege Management Solutions

If an individual at the company requires administrative rights for an application they use daily. You can instill elevated privileges to the individual while keeping them a regular user in the system.

For example, let’s say your accounting team needs to use a payroll application that requires local admin rights. You can configure your privilege management solution to provide them with limited access to only the particular system.

Upgrade Your System With Next Horizon

Administrative rights are essentially the highest permission level an individual can have, and they should be treated that way. Handing out administrative rights left and right can be costly for your business and should be avoided at all costs. If you fear adding more work to your small IT department, consider outsourcing your IT with a trusted provider.

At Next Horizon, we have top-of-the-line technology that allows you to stay competitive in a rapidly-changing technology landscape. With our expertise on your side, you can focus on the most important aspects of your business and free up critical productivity time.

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