Legacy applications such as QuickBooks and Sage put enterprise network security at risk, according to a survey of 185 IT administrators and help-desk operatives.

A survey by privilege authorisation management solution provider BeyondTrust said that legacy applications are the reason why many IT administrators consider the desktop to be the IT equivalent of the Wild West.

The survey found that in organisations with fewer than 2,500 desktops, Intuit QuickBooks was the main software to blame, forcing 80 per cent of IT administrators to elevate network access privileges to the status of administrator or super user.

In enterprises with more than 2,500 desktops, in-house bespoke applications were to blame (18 per cent of respondents), while a range of ‘other legacy applications' including old mainframe apps, Flash and Adobe Software, iPhone apps and gaming software, forced 33 per cent of IT administrators to elevate privileges to administrator status.

Those surveyed said that they spend more than a quarter of their time fixing problems caused by over-privileged users and would welcome help with automating the process of dealing with them.

Geoff Haggart, president of international sales at BeyondTrust, said: “This report offers a revealing insight into the state of desktops today. They are littered with legacy applications, many requiring Windows administrator or power user status to run and so leaving IT administrators caught between a rock and a hard place.

“Effective access management is practically impossible for them because adopting best practice of removing administrator or super user status means shutting down applications that the enterprise still relies on to conduct its day-to-day business.”