Survey finds most networks are out of control

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Do you know what software is in use on your network? A survey released today by Avecto, a developer of Windows privilege management tools, found that three out of four IT professionals have no idea what unauthorized software might be running on their networks.

The simplest scenario to manage and protect is one that is completely homogenous and locked down. If every single endpoint uses the exact same hardware and software, and everything is configured the exact same way for every user, and the users have no ability to install software or modify the settings of the operating system or software already installed, then the IT admin’s job is much easier.

If you don't know what software is on your network, how can you defend or patch it?
That is rarely—if ever—the case, though.

It’s much more likely that there is at least some variation in hardware—even if it’s only different models of desktops and laptops from a single vendor—and the software installed varies from department to department, or even from individual to individual. However, it can be total chaos in situations where users have admin rights and simply download and install whatever software they choose.

40 percent of the IT professionals surveyed indicated they had been directly impacted by malware or other issues as a result of allowing rogue software to be downloaded on their networks. More than half recognize the risk in granting admin rights to users, and understand that limiting admin access would reduce support calls and eliminate many security concerns.

The mantra for years has been that average users should not be logged in to their PCs with admin privileges. Paul Kenyon, Avecto co-founder and Chief Operating Officer, describes a concerning trend, though—especially when coupled with BYOD—where younger workers expect to have elevated privileges that can put company data and network resources at risk. Kenyon also points out that many IT admins grant elevated privileges as a quick means of troubleshooting rather than dealing with issues the right way.

Maybe Java is not part of the default install for your endpoints, so news of urgent zero-day flaws in Java don’t even make your radar. But, if users have the ability to install Java without the consent of the IT department, Java may very well be present and your network might be at risk.

When you know what software is installed on your PCs, and what security tools you have in place to mitigate risk, you can limit your attention to what matters and respond only to those threats that might have a potential impact. When you don’t know what software is installed on your PCs, every vulnerability has to be treated as if it’s a potential threat.

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