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Release It! by Michael T. Nygard

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The Principle of Least Privilege

The principle of “least privilege” mandates that a process should have the lowest level of privilege needed to accomplish its task. For application software, this never includes running as root (UNIX/Linux) or Administrator (Windows). Anything these applications need to do, they can do as nonadministrative users.

I’ve seen Windows servers left logged in as Administrator for weeks at a time—with remote desktop access—because that’s what some piece of software required. (This particular package also was not able to run as an NT service, so it was essentially just a Windows desktop application left running for a long time. That is not what I call data center ready!)

Software that requires execution as root is ...

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