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Re: MS Windows Screensaver Privilege Escalation
From: Paul Schmehl <pauls () utdallas edu>
Date: Mon, 29 Nov 2004 10:40:11 -0600

--On Sunday, November 28, 2004 09:41:23 PM +1300 Nick FitzGerald <nick () virus-l demon co uk> wrote:

That's because it is (more than) pretty stupid to let users install
software at all.  The job of system administrators is to "manage" the
systems they are responsible for.  With Windows systems that requires
that "ordinary users" (i.e. everyone whose job is not officially
"system administrator") _MUST NOT_ be allowed to install new software.
Sadly, extraordinarily few Windows system admins actually have enough
nouse to realize this, and most of the few who do cannot get enough
management muscle to back such a "draconian" policy.

This model breaks down, of course, in the home market, where people want unfettered access to their computer.

What we need is a paradigm shift in thinking about security and computers. We need "users" to be required/forced? to change accounts to install software. Something like a virtual session, so that, when they're logged in, and they decide they want to install something, when they attempt to install, the system forces them into a virtual session, authenticates them as root/admin and performs the install within that session. Once the install completes, the session closes, and they're back to "joe user" again.

People could still override this, but they would (obviously) have to be somewhat knowledgeable to do it. (Really what we need is the unix model, where users can never be admins and admins *should* never be users, but we *all* know that's never going to happen.)

Just last night my 28 year old daughter was complaining about having to update her laptop. She called it "a second job" that she wasn't paid for. She yearns for "automated updates" that she doesn't have to deal with. On a corporate network, that's doable, but at home??? I explained to her why trusting her computer's updates to someone else was a bad thing, but that only made her more knowledgeable, not more happy. :-)

Paul Schmehl (pauls () utdallas edu)
Adjunct Information Security Officer
The University of Texas at Dallas
AVIEN Founding Member

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