Feeds

Naked Win 7 still vulnerable to most viruses

User Account Control easily bypassed

The Power of One Infographic

Out-of-the-box Windows 7 machines are still vulnerable to eight out of ten viruses, according to a test by security firm Sophos.

The experiment proves that the improved User Account Control (UAC) features built into Windows 7 are not enough and that additional anti-virus protection is still required. In fairness to Redmond, Microsoft crystal clear that anti-virus remains a necessary add-on to Windows PCs.

As well as paid-for products a number of free-of-charge products from AVG, Comodo, Avast and Avira are available, along with Microsoft's home-grown Microsoft Security Essentials freeware anti-malware scanner.

In the Sophos experiment, Windows 7 with User Account Control in default configuration and no-anti-malware installed was tested against ten malware samples that arrived in Sophos's labs on 22 October. Seven of these badware packages ran while two failed to work on Win 7 machines irrespective of whether UAC protection was in place or not.

UAC stopped only one example of malware that would otherwise have infected the PC, a strain of autorun malware (called Autorun-ATK by Sophos).

Two Trojans - a variant of Bredo and a banking trojan - failed to work on Win 7 machines. However, a variant of the notorious Zbot Trojan as well as a scareware package slipped through the net infecting Win 7 machines used in the test, irrespective of whether or not Windows UAC was running.

UAC debuted in Windows Vista as a technology designed to prompt users for permission before allowing applications to run. Widely criticised as annoying, Microsoft released a less intrusive version of the software with Windows 7.

"User Account Control did block one sample; however, its failure to block anything else just reinforces my warning prior to the Windows 7 launch that UAC's default configuration is not effective at protecting a PC from modern malware," writes Sophos security researcher Chester Wisniewski.

"Lesson learned? You still need to run anti-virus on Windows 7."

Wisniewski notes that Vista fared better then other flavours of Windows in a security report by Microsoft released on Monday. The infection rate of Windows Vista SP1 was 61.9 percent less than that of Windows XP SP3.

That, according to Wisniewski, means Vista is the "least ugly baby in its family" and ought not to confer any bragging rights. "You can be sure the next report will highlight its even less ugly younger sibling, Windows 7," he adds. ®

Bootnote

During a presentation on The Balance of Browser Security and Settings at the RSA Conference in London last month, Microsoft's Ed Gibson referred to the version of UAC that came with Vista as "User Annoyance Control". The terminology by Microsoft’s chief security advisor in the UK was clearly deliberate, and a sign that Redmond acknowledges that the constant pop-ups generated by the technology on Vista boxes were counterproductive. ®

Seven Steps to Software Security

More from The Register

next story
Whoah! How many Google Play apps want to read your texts?
Google's app permissions far too lax – security firm survey
Chrome browser has been DRAINING PC batteries for YEARS
Google is only now fixing ancient, energy-sapping bug
Do YOU work at Microsoft? Um. Are you SURE about that?
Nokia and marketing types first to get the bullet, says report
Microsoft takes on Chromebook with low-cost Windows laptops
Redmond's chief salesman: We're taking 'hard' decisions
EU dons gloves, pokes Google's deals with Android mobe makers
El Reg cops a squint at investigatory letters
Big Blue Apple: IBM to sell iPads, iPhones to enterprises
iOS/2 gear loaded with apps for big biz ... uh oh BlackBerry
OpenWRT gets native IPv6 slurping in major refresh
Also faster init and a new packages system
Google shows off new Chrome OS look
Athena springs full-grown from Chromium project's head
prev story

Whitepapers

Top three mobile application threats
Prevent sensitive data leakage over insecure channels or stolen mobile devices.
The Essential Guide to IT Transformation
ServiceNow discusses three IT transformations that can help CIO's automate IT services to transform IT and the enterprise.
Mobile application security vulnerability report
The alarming realities regarding the sheer number of applications vulnerable to attack, and the most common and easily addressable vulnerability errors.
How modern custom applications can spur business growth
Learn how to create, deploy and manage custom applications without consuming or expanding the need for scarce, expensive IT resources.
Consolidation: the foundation for IT and business transformation
In this whitepaper learn how effective consolidation of IT and business resources can enable multiple, meaningful business benefits.