In this article, we will go through some important reasons why you should disable administrator account on Windows devices and servers.
While disabling the administrator account entirely is not recommended, there are specific situations where limiting its use or creating separate user accounts can be beneficial for security and system management.
For IT teams, handling the built-in administrator account – BUILTIN\Administrator, NT AUTHORITY\Administrator, the account with relative identifier (RID) 500 is a common source of trouble. This account is present by default on all Microsoft Windows operating systems and Active Directory domains.
The built-in administrator account has a specific and well-known security identifier, and some attacks target that particular SID. Renaming the account doesn’t help, because the SID will stay the same. Therefore, Microsoft leaves the administrator account disabled and expects you to create a new one.
Many organizations prefer to have a common Administrator password configured on all devices. This presents serious challenges because if the password is compromised, the attacker would have access to the password hash and could use it to authenticate to any other system that uses the same password.
Reasons Why You Should Disable Administrator Account
Here are six scenarios where you might consider restricting the administrator account:
- User Account Control (UAC) Enhancement: On modern operating systems like Windows, User Account Control helps prevent unauthorized changes by prompting for permission when administrator-level actions are performed. By creating a standard user account for everyday tasks and only using the administrator account when necessary, you add an extra layer of protection against accidental system changes.
- Malware and Ransomware Defense: Malicious software often targets administrator accounts to gain control over a system. Limiting the use of the administrator account reduces the chances of malware getting access to critical system functions and data.
- Preventing Unauthorized Software Installation: By using a standard user account, you can prevent software from being installed without your knowledge or approval. Administrator accounts have the power to install programs system-wide, which can lead to unwanted or potentially harmful software being added.
- Mitigating Human Errors: Even experienced users can make mistakes that affect system stability or security. Using a standard user account for routine tasks reduces the chances of unintentional changes that might impact the system.
- Guest or Public User Access: If you have guests or other users who occasionally need to use your computer, providing them with a standard user account ensures that they don’t accidentally make significant changes to your system.
- Network and Remote Access Security: If your computer is part of a network or accessible remotely, using an administrator account exposes more vulnerabilities to potential attackers. By using a standard user account for network-related tasks, you reduce the risk of unauthorized access.
Disabling the administrator account
According to Microsoft, If it’s difficult to maintain a regular schedule for periodic password changes for local accounts, you can disable the built-in administrator account instead of relying on regular password changes to protect it from attack.
Remember that while disabling the built-in administrator account entirely can limit certain risks, it can also hinder your ability to perform essential system maintenance and configuration changes. It’s generally recommended to have at least one active administrator account for managing the system.
Instead of disabling the built-in administrator account, consider using it judiciously and creating separate standard user accounts for day-to-day activities to strike a balance between security and functionality. Regularly updating your operating system, using strong passwords, and staying vigilant against phishing and malware are crucial aspects of maintaining a secure computing environment.