Has Malware Turned Off Your PC's User Account Control?
By Stephen Bucaro
Basic Windows PC security involves giving users and administrators different rights. Users
accounts allow them to perform certain limited functions, which does not include installing
software or making certain changes to the computer. An administrator account allows one
to install software or make any changes to the computer.
PC users thought it was too much of a hassle to have to log out of their user account
and log back in as an administrator in order to install software or make changes to the
computer. So most people always logged in as administrator. This made it convenient
for them, but also convenient for hackers to install malware and make changes to their PC.
In order to increase security, with Windows Vista, Microsoft created the User Account
Control. This allowed users to always log in as administrator, yet still receive a warning
when something normally accomplished with administrator's rights was occurring.
When someone or something attempts to install software or make changes to the computer,
the screen dims and the User Account Control dialog box appears, displaying the message
"Windows needs your permission to continue". The action will not take place until the user
clicks the [Continue] button in the User Account Control dialog box.
Unfortunately users found the User Account Control dialog box to be just another
annoying Windows nag (remember the "You have unused icons" nag) and whenever it
appeared they just automatically clicked the [Continue] button, without thinking. So
in Windows 7, Microsoft attempted to make the User Account Control less annoying.
One way Microsoft attempted to make the User Account Control less annoying is to
allow the user to configure what actions cause it to appear. To configure Windows 7
User Account Control:
1. In Control Panel select the User Accounts and Family Safety group.
2. In the User Accounts and Family Safety group, click on User Accounts.
3. On the Make changes to your user account page, click on Change User Account Control Setting.
4. If the annoying User Account Control dialog box appears, click on the [Yes] button.
5. In the User Account Control setting dialog box, as you move the slider control, a description
of the notifications you will receive appears to the right of the control.v
6. Set the level of notifications you desire, then click on the [OK] button.
7. Restart the computer to put the change into effect.
Now that the user has control of the User Account Control, hackers have found ways
to turn it off. Many times hackers trick users by requiring them to turn off the User Account
Control to install a seemingly desirable piece of software, then they install malware along
with the requested software.
But many times hackers have used Windows bugs and vulnerabilities to turn off the
User Account Control. Nearly one-in-four PCs that reported malware detections to Microsoft
had the User Account Control turned off. Use the steps above to make sure that the
User Account Control on your PC is not turned off. It may be annoying, but I personally
configure my User Account Control for maximum protection.
More Windows Administration Information:
• Remove Spyware with Spybot - Search & Destroy
• How to Protect Yourself Against Keyloggers
• Top Eleven Tips for Safe Computing
• Root Kit - The Hackers Backdoor to Your Computer
• A Guide to Understanding Security and Safe Windows Vista Computing
• Beginner's Guide to Computer Forensics
• Has Malware Turned Off Your PC's User Account Control?
• Smart Card
• Five Things You Can Do To Improve Your Company's Security
• Social Engineering Attack Counter Measures