Tuesday, December 1, 2009

Windows 7 Security: UAC Gets Tolerable

Speaking of annoying Windows features, let’s talk about User Account Control—the Windows Vista security element that was a poster child for everything that rankled people about that OS. UAC aimed to prevent rogue soft - ware from tampering with your PC by endlessly prompting you to approve running applications or changing settings. The experience was so grating that many users preferred to turn UAC off and take their chances with Internet attackers. Those who left it active risked slipping into the habit of incautiously clicking through every prompt, defeating whatever value the feature might have had.

Windows 7 gives you control over UAC, in the form of a slider containing four security settings. As before, you can accept the full-blown UAC or elect to disable it. But you can also tell UAC to notify you only when soft ware changes Windows settings, not when you’re tweaking them yourself. And you can instruct it not to perform the abrupt screen dimming eff ect that Vista’s version uses to grab your attention. If Microsoft had its druthers, all Windows 7 users would use UAC in full-tilt mode: The slider that you use to ratchet back its severity advises you not to do so if you routinely install new soft ware or visit unfamiliar sites, and it warns that disabling the dimming effect is “Not recommended.”

Speak for yourself, Redmond: I have every intention of recommending the intermediate settings to most people who ask me for advice, since those settings retain most of UAC’s theoretical value without driving users bonkers. Other than salvaging UAC, Microsoft has made relatively few significant changes to Windows 7’s security system. One meaningful improvement: BitLocker, the driveencryption tool included only in Windows 7 Ultimate and the corporateoriented Windows 7 Enterprise, lets you en - crypt USB drives and hard disks, courtesy of a feature called BitLocker to Go. It’s one of the few good reasons to prefer Win 7 Ultimate to Home Premium or Professional. Internet Explorer 8, Windows 7’s default browser, includes many securityrelated enhancements, including a new SmartScreen Filter (which blocks dangerous Web sites) and InPrivate Browsing (which permits you to use IE without leaving traces of where you’ve been or what you’ve done). Of course, IE 8 is equally at home in XP and Vista—and it’s free—so it doesn’t constitute a reason to upgrade to Windows 7.

Source of Information : PC World November 2009

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