The study analysed the bulletins put out by Microsoft on the second Tuesday of each month - the so-called Patch Tuesday - and categorised them to see how many could be mitigated by securing administrator rights right across an enterprise.
In the April study, its sixth, Beyond Trust said while there were 46 less critical flaws than in the 2017 report, its findings indicated that the removal of admin rights would have mitigated 81% of critical vulnerabilities in 2018 – a higher percentage than in 2017.
Beyond Trust said over the six years it had been issuing these reports, the overall number of vulnerabilities in Microsoft products had risen by 110%, with critical vulnerabilities showing a 30% rise.
Drilling down, the study further found that all the critical vulnerabilities in Microsoft Office would have been preventable had admin rights been removed. For Windows 7, 8.1 and 10 combined, this percentage was 85%, for Internet Explorer it was 92% and for Windows servers it was 83%.
The study found that in 2018, 499 vulnerabilities had been reported across Windows Vista, Windows 7, Windows RT, Windows 8/8.1 and Windows 10.
"Windows 10 was touted as the 'most secure Windows OS' to date when it was released, yet Microsoft has still reported vulnerabilities," the study said.
"While the overall number decreased from the prior year, the six-year trend (2013-2018) shows almost twice the number reported over that time frame. Of all the Windows vulnerabilities discovered in 2018, 169 of these were considered 'critical'."
Beyond Trust found that 85% of the critical vulnerabilities would have been held in check by removing admin rights.
The report can be downloaded here after registration.
Graphics: courtesy Beyond Trust