5 Ways To Get Vista's Security Now - InformationWeek

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7/28/2006
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5 Ways To Get Vista's Security Now

Windows Vista is months away, and so is the additional security it's promising. Or is it? Why wait when you can give Windows XP a taste of Vista's User Account Control protection now?

Option 2: Run As

Windows XP sports a command called "Run As" that lets you temporarily stepping into the shoes of another user account. Usually it's pitched as a way for a limited account user to briefly assume administrator rights to, for example, install a program.

But you can turn that upside down to mimic some of the protection Vista's UAC provides.

The idea is to run the most vulnerable applications -- your browser and your e-mailer are the top two -- as a limited user so that if the worst happens and malware hijacks the app, it's not able to do its worst.

To make this work, you run your browser -- IE or Firefox, for example -- and your e-mail client with limited rights while you run most everything else as an administrator. That cuts the number of install/launch problems you'd run into if you operated as a limited user, and also lets you keep your current setup of customized applications, data file locations, and the like.

For instance, right-click IE's shortcut on the desktop, in Windows Explorer, or on the Quick Launch toolbar; choose "Run as" from the menu. Check "The following user:" button and then type in or choose a limited user account and enter its password before clicking "OK."

You can automate this process so that you don't have to remember to right-click the icon. Right-click the shortcut and choose "Properties," click on the "Shortcut" tab and then the "Advanced" button. Select the "Run with different credentials" box and click "OK." From now on when you launch from this shortcut, the first thing you see is the account dialog where you can choose to run as administrator or as another -- in our scenario, as a limited user -- account.

Bottom Line: Clumsy because it requires a limited user account

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