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Chapter 5. WMI Security > Underlying Operating System Security

Underlying Operating System Security

WMI’s namespace-based security model, coupled with facilities provided by the DCOM layer upon which it is built, comprises a reasonably flexible and comprehensive way to control access to a Windows 2000 computer as seen by WMI. Only one more aspect of security needs to be considered—namely, the way in which these various security layers interact with authentication and restriction mechanisms present in the underlying operating system. One obvious interaction is that concepts such as “users,” “groups,” and “credentials” are not unique to WMI and DCOM! Using the WMI control snap-in involves adding Windows 2000 users to the Access Control Lists for various WMI namespaces. At this level, WMI is clearly using authentication mechanisms provided by the operating system to implement its security.

Beyond this, however, there is no special relationship between WMI and the operating system. Just like any other program, winMgmts.exe, the application that services WMI requests, is subject to any restrictions that the operating system happens to impose. Whenever a user connects using the identify impersonation level (the lowest level allowed by WMI itself) it cannot do anything that the System account cannot do. For example, when WMI is servicing a client using this level, it cannot perform any manipulation of the filesystem except that allowed by any process running as System (or whatever the administrator has configured winmgmts.exe to run as). In the more usual case, when a user connects to WMI using the impersonate impersonation level, winmgmts.exe cannot carry out any activity on behalf of the user that the user himself could not carry out through other means. Crucially, then, the management power of WMI and its potential availability to any user does not in itself present a security risk because WMI cannot be used to carry out an action that the operating system would not permit through other means.


  

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