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Windows 7 may be more secure, but its UAC is less functional than Windows Vista's, according to a recent security study. The study suggests that only antivirus protection can properly protect Windows 7.  (Source: Switched)
Antivirus protection still necessary, says firm

One of the most unpopular features of Windows Vista among casual users was the User Account Control (UAC).  Ironically, while the UAC provoked irate comments from these users, like "why is my computer asking me to approve everything", the feature was one of the most appreciated features by power users as it gave them much more control over their security and ability to prevent inappropriate actions.

With Windows 7, Microsoft pledged to go the OS X route on this topic, tuning down the UAC's warnings to a lesser level.  Many security firms complained about this approach and Microsoft relented slightly, restoring some of the UAC's warnings, in particular a warning about the disabling the UAC altogether (experts showed that attackers could disable the UAC without prompting the user in early builds of Windows 7).

While these changes helped make Windows 7's release edition more secure than the test builds, the UAC's default setting is still neutered compare to Vista's robust solution, indicates Sophos Senior Security Adviser Chester Wisniewski.  He's just completed a study of attacking Windows 7 with malware and seeing how the new UAC responds.

Of the ten pieces of malware tested, Windows 7 wouldn't install two of them.  Of the remaining eight only one generated a UAC warning, allowing the user to disallow its installation.

Microsoft officials, though, minimized the test, saying the UAC just isn't that important a security feature anymore.  They point to Windows 7's improved memory protections and Microsoft free Security Essentials antivirus suite as two critical tools that can be used to fight infection, in addition to the UAC. 

States a Microsoft spokesperson, "Windows 7 is built upon the security platform of Windows Vista, which included a defense-in-depth approach to help protect customers from malware; this includes features like Security Development Lifecycle (SDL), User Account Control (UAC), Kernel Patch Protection, Windows Service Hardening, Address Space Layout Randomization (ASLR) and Data Execution Prevention (DEP)."

"Windows 7 retains all of the development processes, including going through the Security Development Lifecycle, and technologies that made Windows Vista the most secure Windows operating system ever released," the spokesperson added. "Coupled with Internet Explorer 8—which includes added malware protection with its SmartScreen Filter—and Microsoft Security Essentials, Windows 7 provides flexible security protection against malware and intrusions."

While he understands that with other supplemental protections Windows 7 will likely be safe, Mr. Wisniewski seems mildly disapproving of defaulting the UAC to reduced functionality.  After all, users of Windows Vista may be lulled into a false sense of security expecting prompts to save them from malware.  Ultimately, though, there's little that can be done to convince Microsoft to change this, though, and he concludes, "Lesson learned? You still need to run antivirus [protection] on Windows 7."

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More info
By Smilin on 11/5/2009 4:50:58 PM , Rating: 4
This is one of the pieces of malware that UAC did not block:


Troj/FakeAV-AFY is a Trojan for the Windows platform.

Troj/FakeAV-AFY communicates via HTTP with the following locations:

freeavtest . com

When Troj/FakeAV-AFY is installed it creates the file <Temp>\asp2009.exe.

So if you run this thing it drops an executable in the temp folder?? Nothing about that requires admin privledges so of course UAC would not prompt. WTF? It's also completely harmless!

Now if you go run asp2009.exe and it does something malicous that requires admin you would get a UAC Prompt.

Guys this doesn't even count as FUD. This is outright deception on the part of Sophos trying to sell products.

Jason: Stop being such a dillhole. If you had done just two minutes of research you could have written a VERY interesting article not about UAC, but about Sophos decieving the public to sell product. You need to step up your game.

RE: More info
By sigmatau on 11/5/2009 5:45:32 PM , Rating: 1
Yup, see my post below. Pure crap is what is posted by Jason Mick. Anything to make Apple look good. Using a screen shot from their horrible commericials just puts the icing on the cake.

RE: More info
By kmmatney on 11/6/2009 12:55:22 AM , Rating: 2
Jason doesn't post articles to make Apple look good - just look at all the iPhone issues that he puts up.

RE: More info
By SavagePotato on 11/5/2009 8:53:33 PM , Rating: 3
Jasons game IS posting flamebait articles to watch the fireworks.

Technically speaking he has been at the top of his game for a long time.

"I f***ing cannot play Halo 2 multiplayer. I cannot do it." -- Bungie Technical Lead Chris Butcher

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