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The administrative share is a default sharing setting in Windows networks to allow administrators to access all drives and partitions on the network. The system creates and controls these shares automatically, although users can disable or delete them if necessary. These sharing settings are most relevant to corporate networks, where administrators need to be able to quickly access computers in the network and also need high level permissions to perform various tasks.
Addresses for administrative shares can be reached by typing in the computer and drive identification, followed by a dollar sign, for example C$. It will be necessary to be logged on as an administrator to access the share. Other administrative shares include IPC$, PRINT$, and FAX$ shares for these networked functions. The administrator can remotely access the print settings, for example, on a user's computer.
The operating system will hide an administrative share. In a list of available shares and settings, these shares do not show up. This is a security measure to make such shares less accessible. Even hidden, they can be a security concern, as some viruses and exploits take advantage of the administrative share setup. They can spread through a network over these shares and may do substantial damage. Administrators may decide to disable some or all of these shares for security on a company network.
Individual computer users at home have administrative share access, but they are not usually a significant cause for concern. Those working on wireless networks should make sure their networks are protected for security, and can configure their home networks to limit administrative access. Users who still have concerns or who handle confidential and sensitive material for work can disable the administrative share. Employees with security concerns about work they take home can also meet with the information technology department to discuss the steps they can take to protect their security.
Administrators working on an enterprise network like an office or building network need to be careful with their usernames and passwords. It is not advisable to leave a computer logged in with an administrator's access information, as anyone passing by would be able to use the administrator's account. The high level access could result in an information breach, or a user could unwittingly create a security hole in the system without realizing it. Information technology departments may require administrators to periodically change their passwords and use random password generation to increase the security of their passwords.
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