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What does User Account Control on Windows offer in terms of security? It's just an extra click to potentially run a virus.

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up vote 3 down vote accepted

Basically, there are two kinds of protection. First is user - such window prompt makes user to think about what he is doing and does really this action was intended. With UAC it is simpler to guide users what should be accepted and what must be restricted. Second protection is system itself - even with administrator rights there are many limitations on running process.

For those who want to delve into details, here is link on blog of renowned security expert Joanna Rutkowska: http://theinvisiblethings.blogspot.com/2007/02/running-vista-every-day.html. In this post she explains UAC and vulnerability that was found back in 2007.

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@Ams, once again, I've spotted a typo: fist. ;-) –  Moshe Nov 21 '10 at 1:30
    
Ouch.. @Moshe, thanks! :) –  anonymous Nov 21 '10 at 1:34
    
Also good to read is Russinovich's UAC isn't a security feature blog post. blogs.technet.com/b/markrussinovich/archive/2007/02/12/… –  surfasb Aug 13 '11 at 21:24
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There is always a limit to how much the OS can protect the user from himself.

But UAC is firstly concerned with blocking processes from performing potentially destructive actions without your knowledge, so it asks for your explicit approval. Yes, you might still run a virus because you wanted to see the dancing pigs - but that's YOUR choice to ignore the warning (and basically, thats what it is: Continue at your own risk).

But there is a tradeoff here: You can set UAC to require a password for EVERYTHING, but that would be so invasive and disruptive that everyone would either ignore it or shut it off completely. This way, if you WANT, you CAN pay attention to when it really matters (apparently), or you can consistently and explictly choose NOT to.
It's like when you get in your car and start driving - the car starts beeping because you're not wearing a seatbelt, which you should. But you can ignore that if you want to, at your own risk.

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