January 2008
Vol. 24, No. 1

A Technology Newsletter for Extension Specialists

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User Account Control—What’s with the Continue/Cancel?
by Joe Lear

The design of Windows Vista has been about increased security. One area that has been changed is in the area of the security rights users need for day to day computer operations.

Under XP, activities such as adding a network printer and installing some devices requires administrator rights which gives the user total control of the machine. Many programs require that the user has administrator rights to even run correctly under XP.

This can and has been a security issue. When a user runs with administrator rights, this can allow websites to download and install spyware, adware, and viruses unknown to the user.

To help prevent viruses and malware from being installed, Vista has been designed to allow the user to perform day to day operations with limited rights (a standard user). What does this mean to you? Most of the time you will run as a standard user, but we are still giving you administrator rights on the machine and you will be able to install programs, and devices that you need to do your job.

When you perform operations that require administrative rights, you will receive a User Account Control Dialog Box or prompt to Click continue if you want to perform the desired operation or Cancel if you do not. Some operations (such as copying files to location on the C drive outside your user profile) can result in 2 or more of these continue dialog boxes.

Programs which have not been certified or signed will give you a different dialog box in which you need to click Allow to continue the installation.

If you see these prompts when visiting web sites or opening downloaded files, this is the time to ask yourself if this is something you want to have happen or if this could be malicious activity trying to access your computer such as a virus or other malware. If it’s not something you want to do or did not expect to do, simply click cancel and the program or process will not occur.

This is not a complete description of how User Account Control helps to protect your computer nor is User Account Control complete protection from malware and viruses, but it does give you an additional defense against them as long as you think before you click continue.



Last Revised: 08/04/08



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