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Prevent Malware with User Account Control

Jun 8, 2008
User Account Control (UAC) was introduced in Windows Vista as way to control administrative access to programs and settings while logged in as an administrator.

Now, that may sound sort of weird if you come from the corporate world of system administration using Windows NT, 2000 or XP. Under these operating systems (nt, 2000, xp) if you were the administrator programs and system settings would launch without impedance and run with administrative privileges.

UAC allows Vista users to operate their PC's as administrators, however programs and settings requiring administrative permissions must be granted explicit permission from the Vista administrator, these programs no longer launch automatically even though the administrator is logged in.

So, how does the average user allow a program or setting to execute (or run)? Vista uses something called User Interface Privilege Isolation (UIPI) which creates another video layer with a prompt that asks the administrator if it's ok to run a program or change a setting. Vista decides which processes (applications or settings) are subject to User Interface Privilege Isolation by using something called the Process Integrity Level. The lower a process integrity level of a windows process the more chance it will be subject to UAC with UIPI. Processes with a high integrity level automatically bypass UAC.

When UAC with UIPI was introduced into Vista users were immediately annoyed with "security popups" (the UIPI prompt) asking them if it's ok to run a program or change a setting. I must admit that UAC is annoying, however it is most definitely necessary. Vista users should always be wary of low integrity processes, and UAC with UIPI allows you to know what's safe and what isn't.

UAC can be turned off. I don't recommend it, however it is possible. To turn off UAC with UIPI follow the steps below:

1. Click the Vista globe at the bottom (formally start button)
2. Click the control panel
3. Click Classic View (off to the top left)
4. Double click on User Accounts
5. Click "Turn User Account Control on or off"
6. Uncheck User Account Control (UAC)
7. Click OK
8. Reboot
9. UAC with UIPI is now turn off

UAC needs one simple improvement to make it completely stellar - stopping the constant prompts! If a process has already been approved to run, why prompt us again? I have a feeling we'll see this change for UAC in the future. Until then, keep UAC running and it'll help you keep your PC clean!
About the Author
Matthew Rizos writes daily articles on how to remove malware using free anti-malware software at:
Remove Malware
Anti-Malware Services are also provided remotely at:
St. Louis Computer Repair
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