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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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RE: Flawed Methodology
By Screwballl on 11/5/2009 4:55:41 PM , Rating: 0
agreed. There needs to be tougher laws on spammers, scammers and virus makers around the world in order to cut back on the actual security vulnerabilities. Since this is not really possible, as many governments actually rely on some of the revenue from these pirates, there needs to be an alternative that is not nearly susceptible to security risks. This is where modern day linux comes in.

Even the worst of the security flaws (outside of root based attacks) in a linux system is harmless compared to almost any virus out there for Windows. This is even more so now that most linux distros have stopped enabling root by default, and even a "super user" account will only see a few annoyances if they are attacked, but there is no way to crash or mess with anything but a few user based settings, not the entire OS like Windows.

Another issue that comes into play is the fact that the linux systems that are attacked are business or corporate systems. The hackers go after the market that is the most prevalent, for home users it is Windows based viruses and malware, for businesses it is linux. Since most linux systems have been patched to prevent most security threats, the only door left open is Windows and their stupid users. At least Win7 closes most of those doors and prevents many of them from even running, or at least prompts the user.

Granted linux is not for everyone, but it can and is capable of doing what 95% of the population needs to do with their home computers, and once it gets more foothold, then more gaming companies will actually take notice and release games that natively support linux... At my house, the only time Windows runs is to play games, otherwise it is linux 98% of the time.


RE: Flawed Methodology
By Reclaimer77 on 11/5/2009 5:02:48 PM , Rating: 5
You are creating a self fullfilling prophecy. Look, NOTHING built or coded by man is foolproof. If everyone started using Linux, then guess what, Linux would be the number 1 target OS.

You Linux guys... just go away. We are NOT interested, we are NOT going to switch. And until you can pull your elitists collective heads out of your asses and come up with a Distro that runs ALL our programs, ALL our games, and does it all without emulation, compilers, and terrible driver support..well, I think I speak for most Windows users when I say you can just go screw off.

Linux is great for certain things. Prime time on our desktops ? Nope, it's not ready. And please, save your "my mother uses Linux and loves it" stories. Been there, heard that, not interested.


RE: Flawed Methodology
By bupkus on 11/5/2009 5:34:47 PM , Rating: 1
I propose a compromise. How about installing linux in a virtual machine with Windows as host and using that for all your dirty work. Whatever you absolutely need Windows for, use that.
I have Windows 7 for games and... I'm still using W7 for this right now but I'm still testing VirtualBox. When content I intend to use linux for all else where risky exposure is involved.


RE: Flawed Methodology
By Reclaimer77 on 11/5/2009 5:43:18 PM , Rating: 5
Why bother ?

If you have WIndows 7, with even the default UAC settings, Windows Security essentials installed, and do a decent job of keeping Windows updated ( which is retardedly easy because it's automatic ), unless you are a flaming IDIOT there is no way you will have a problem.

I propose a compromise, take off your tin foil hat, and stop downloading questionable porn from seedy websites. And for god sakes, think twice when you download a warez with a "patcher.exe" before you open it.


RE: Flawed Methodology
By Alexstarfire on 11/7/2009 6:10:42 AM , Rating: 2
I'd end up using Windows for everything but the internet and IMing people. Not very useful. I can't imagine how hard it would be to find all the converting programs I have for Linux. And I don't just mean command line interfaces either. No sense it taking a giant step backwards for no reason. I have quite a few that I use fairly often. Ohh, and I'd be playing ALL my games on Windows.

Not that Linux isn't fairly easy to use, but the lack of programs keeps me from switching.


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